Anniversary: Back to the Future

Orlando magazine and the "Information Highway"

In August 1993, the cover of Orlando magazine showed an old-fashioned TV screen (who could have imagined flat–screen TVs then?). Our cover headlines:

A Short History Lesson
Disney Makes Headlines
Living and Giving
Mr. Downtown
Back to the Future
Church Street Heydays
Genuine Articles
Introducing the Silver Skillet Awards
Front & Center

The Info Highway Starts Here—Once upon a time in a galaxy far away…Work. Play. Communications. All the basic functions of daily life were conducted through an electronic system in which the TV screen was the central element. That system is about to become a reality in America. And it all begins in Orlando. 

Inside, we stated that “futurists, computer gurus, financial magnates, corporate planners and others basically agree that the big thrust for the next century, both in terms of technology and economics, will be high-tech transfer of information. Information will be the commodity of the age. The central medium for that information transfer will be a fiber-optic, computer-operated network that can link every home and business in America with every type of visual, audio and data bank available to mankind. The futurists, and publications like Time magazine, have dubbed the new system ‘the Information Highway.’’’

Our story went on to say that Orlando had been chosen as “mile 1” of the highway, with Time Warner Cable joining with corporate partners to test a 500-channel, interactive cable system. 

“Every point on the system—living rooms, office, a hospital operating room, an elementary school classroom—will be able to receive and transmit not only pictures and sound but massive amounts of information and technical data—to every other point on the system.” 

Working at home, shopping at home, banking at home, getting a college degree at home—all would become possibilities. And of course ordering any movie you wanted.

Not so fast.

“I think that the newspapers have allowed themselves to be sold an incredible line of garbage about what cable television is going to do and when it is going to happen,” a Blockbuster Video spokesman was quoted as saying, adding that that it would take “well into the 21st century and beyond” to wire America with fiber optic cable to create a meaningful interactive cable system.

Things have a way of working out.

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