Apple’s Knowledge Navigator (in 1987) Foreshadowed Our Current Tech Toys

The professor enters his wood-paneled office to the sound of a harpsichord concerto.

He walks to his desk and opens a strange-looking, hinged device, which bongs like a Macintosh. It’s about the size of a laptop, but it opens like a book, revealing two screens.

“You have three messages,” says a face on the device. “Your graduate team in Guatemala, a second-semester junior, and your mother reminding you about your father’s …”

“… Surprise birthday party tomorrow,” says the professor, cutting off his digital butler with the touch of a finger on the screen. Clearly he’s been reminded before.

This little scenario takes place in 2011, in a film called “The Knowledge Navigator,” produced by The Kenwood Group for Apple in 1987. I was the director of photography. Randy Field directed, and Jane Hernandez produced. This fall is its 25th anniversary.

The device used for our shoot was a wooden prop. But the Knowledge Navigator video foresaw technologies that were only dreamt of when it was produced: touchscreen interfaces, digital agents, instant video communication, and … oh yes, the Internet. It spawned many imitators, “vision videos” for Silicon Valley companies that continue to this day.

1 thought on “Apple’s Knowledge Navigator (in 1987) Foreshadowed Our Current Tech Toys”

  1. This article as well as “Knowledge Navigator at 25: Many Predicted Technologies Are Now in Place, by Bill Zarchy” really shows the genius of Apple. Obviously they were predicting things that were being developed but it is amazing to see how accurate they were. Congratulations on being a part of filming futuristic ideas that became reality. You did an excellent job of capturing it.

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