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Constructing... World Key


In 1982, Time Magazine declared it “The Year of the Computer” and by 1983 there were 10 million PC’s in the United States alone. These computers had very little in the way of power, they were not linked to together and graphically could only display limited characters and the full spectrum was one of green on black.
In stark contrast is the World Key Information system, the abilities of this system were increditable for 1982. Full Color and graphic intensive, the World Key is in many ways the distant ancestor to our modern smart phones. The system functioned like a CD-ROM long before any of those letters had acronyms. Even the touch screen aspect was one that only became practical for mass marketing just a few years ago. World Key is seldom mentioned largely because of its mundane appearance in modern times. But, when taken into historical context the system is in many ways an Antikythera Mechanism for the 21st Century.
One of the most understated experiences in the early days of EPCOT Center was the authentic international dining experiences of World Showcase, which many considered to be attractions in and of themselves. So popular was dining that within a few months of opening folding tables were set up in Guest Relations (Earth Station) to facilitate booking reservations for all Epcot dining without the mile long walk around World Showcase. In 1983, the non-futuristic card tables were removed and the already revolutionary World Key System took another giant leap forward by adding video conferencing with a call to a dining and information specialist. We don’t even do that in 2011! To be fair we do have the technology, just a lack of interest in what is now called a “post-human society”. Flash forward to today, when one can do many of these things on their iPhone, which is far faster and much more graphic intensive, and (although it’s not exactly safe) you can even walk while you’re doing it!
It’s just another example of the prophetic technologies of EPCOT Center.
The one thing World Key had that we don’t have today is detailed and official information about the pavilions and attractions of the park in a themed format. As recently as last year, there was chatter about and enhanced electronic experience for both smart phones and iPads were the user would access a plethora of “Bonus Feature-like” information about the park including an App where you could point to a structure and see the environment as it existed in different time periods. One can only hope that such a thing can bring back a World Key type of experience for a future (and past) Epcot.

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Photo Caption:
The first large scale equipment, to be installed in Epcot Computer Central, situated in CommuniCore East this was the first completed section of the two semicircular buildings. Photo dated May 1st 1982 just six months from opening day.  

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