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Did AT&T Make Good on Its 1990s Promises?

AT&T is not exactly a cutting edge tech company these days. Aside from dragging its feet on a planned 4G network, the company is the nemesis of iPhone owners nationwide. Dropped calls, delayed voicemails, and shoddy coverage are part and parcel with the Apple phone, and it might get worse if reports of a 3G AT&T Apple tablet prove accurate. Is this the AT&T we were promised at the dawn of the electronics age?

Looking at Ma Bell's vision from the 1990s, it's surprising how many of the company's technological predictions were dead accurate—but it's also surprising how many of the products the ads featured didn't actually end up being from AT&T at all. Sure, there's the read-books-from-anywhere thing, the equivalent to modern day Internet (or Kindle); but for GPS, home security, video conferencing, EZ-Pass, and ticket kiosks, they're all real products from other companies (though AT&T will get Garmin's Nuviphone).

If you're wondering what that "mobile fax" device is, it's the EO Personal Communicator, a wireless PDA launched in 1993 and killed in 1994 after being used by a few enterprise clients like the NYSE. It ran on the C language and had a built-in mic for wireless phone and email communications.

The most quaint prediction: the idea that the future would hold digitized health records.

[Via Pogue]