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What do the iPhone, Android, eBay, Google+ and Obama’s Office of Science and Technology Policy all have in common? Their founders, directors and lead engineers were all involved in ‘General Magic,’ a 1990s tech start-up so ahead of their time that it developed a smartphone fifteen years before the iPhone but collapsed after virtually nobody bought one.
Founded by the engineers behind Apple’s original Macintosh computer wanting to create the ‘next big thing,’ General Magic shipped the first handheld wireless personal communicator in 1994, and lay the foundations for social media, e-commerce and even the emoji before the internet was even in the average home. Combining rare archive footage with contemporary stories of the Magicians today, GENERAL MAGIC tracks the progress of anytime, anywhere communication from a thing of sci-fi fiction in 1994 to a reality in our pockets and on our wrists today, along with the company’s meteoric collapse. This is the story of one of history’s most talented teams and what happens when those who dream big fail, fail again, fail better and ultimately succeed.
An astonishing true story of a band of optimists who genuinely believed they were going to change the world but were in almost every way ahead of their time, GENERAL MAGIC captures the personal and professional price of ambition and shows that even the greatest successes of our time can come out of what in the moment seems like failure.
As part of the Film For Thought program the first screening of this film will be followed by a special extended discussion led by Kevin Y. Kawamoto MSW, PhD, Independent Scholar of Media and Communications.