There was something undeniably awesome about Disney in the early 1980s. The company was expanding its theme parks in Flordia with EPCOT, a shrine to technological innovation. Meanwhile, a bunch of young kids sort of got left unattended at the studio. The result? Movies like Tron.
What a lot of people don’t realise is that Tron was just one of Disney’s many experiments in computer animation. In 1982, the same year that EPCOT opened and Tron hit theatres, Disney quietly released a documentary called Computers Are People, Too!. Watching it is an acid trip of an experience, but it’s also a fascinating historical document that celebrates the newfound fervor for computers and computer-based art.
Motherboard’s Jordan Pearson recently spoke with Michael Bonifer, the former Disney employee who was a publicist for Tron and witness to this magical moment in computer history. Bonifer explains the scene that gave rise to computer animation at Disney brilliantly. It was just a case of the parents going out of town, and the kids throwing a party:
What was interesting about that time at Disney was that the senior management was occupied with EPCOT. There was this sense of young people running amok in a creative, good way. You got to do things that you wouldn’t normally have gotten to do if senior management had been back in Burbank, minding every little thing that happened. Everyone was experimenting. It was a celebration. Computers were part of that.
Click through to Motherboard’s story for the full interview. In the meantime, enjoy the psychadelic miracle that is Computers Are People, Too! You might just learn something. [Motherboard]