The Film That Changed AT&T's Logo and Explained Life in the 1960s

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You are a businessman in 1969. Times, they are a-changin'! And whoo boy, you're not sure you like that. (But maybe you do.) They say that your company, which happens to be AT&T, needs to get with the times. But what does that even mean? You hire a designer named Saul Bass, he of the amazing Hitchcock title sequences, to tell you. His pitch arrives in the form of a film, created just for you, yes you, the scared and excited corporate executive. By the time you finish watching it, you've not only agreed to the logo change Bass offered, but become convinced that the world is not coming to an end. You write him a fat check and get on the train, eager for the chicken pot pie you know is at home in the oven.

I saw this video on Maria Popova's Brain Pickings, who called Bass "the greatest graphic designer of all time."

Also, a big thanks to AT&T's archives team, which has been posting incredible films from the company's history to YouTube for the past couple years. They explain how the film came to be:

This film was made by his company as a presentation to AT&T executives. It would have extended to be shown to the public, but a number of his ideas in the film were not ultimately adopted, like his phone booth designs, and men's and women's uniforms. But a great many were--including, most memorably, the telephone vans and hardhat designs of the 1970s. He designed down to the details, showcasing in this film a myriad of ideas, right down to the yellow pages book designs, cufflinks for executives, and flags.
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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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