Wednesday with Walt: A Man Ahead of His Time

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Wednesday with Walt: A Man Ahead of His Time

Walt Disney’s technological genius was way ahead of his time. When I think about all he could be accomplishing if he was alive today, with all of this technology at his fingertips, I know the results would be amazing. I would guess that if Walt was alive today he would be delirious with possibilities.

In The Fantastic Walt Disney, by Bill Davidson published in the Saturday Evening Post, Volume 237 (1964) there is a very fitting quote by one of the executives who had been with Walt for many years.  Charles Levy had a theory about Walt’s talent. He said, “Walt restlessly prowls the earth like a walking electronic computer storing up data. You never know when he is going to press a button, and some idea, maybe from as far back as 1910, will come tumbling out of his brain.”

Quite often Walt would come up with ideas for which technology had not yet caught up. In fact, Levy said that Walt came up with the idea and plan for an audio-animatronic Abraham Lincoln way back in 1945.

Wednesday with Walt: A Man Ahead of His Time
Exhibit inside "One Man's Dream" at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Using the available technology, Walt had Buddy Ebsen (who was known to be quite a dancer) doing dance moves while men in the studio were punching holes in “what seemed to be a mechanical piano roll.” Levy said, “then I saw Walt playing with little Buddy Ebsen dolls, which were attached by electric wires to a huge console-type machine. The men would feed the piano rolls into the console like a continuous I.B.M. card, and the little Buddy Ebsen dolls would repeat the dance steps I had seen Ebsen himself do.”

Unfortunately, Walt’s experiments didn’t work because, at the time, there was no such thing as transistors and the machinery was too burdensome. Walt’s quote, “if you can dream it, you can do it” sticks in my mind. It must have been so frustrating for him as he was creating ideas and designs to have to wait years to actually be able to see them through to fruition.

In this case, Walt would have to wait until the World’s Fair in 1964 before technology would allow him to put his idea into practice. He carried that idea around in his mind for 19 years waiting for technology to catch up to him.  But – wow! From my technologically-challenged perspective I am in awe of such an advanced mind. What he would be able to accomplish today would be staggering. I think our own techno genius, Chip, would even be impressed!

Wednesday with Walt: A Man Ahead of His Time

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Wednesday with Walt: A Man Ahead of His Time Wednesday with Walt: A Man Ahead of His Time Wednesday with Walt: A Man Ahead of His Time Wednesday with Walt: A Man Ahead of His Time Wednesday with Walt: A Man Ahead of His Time Wednesday with Walt: A Man Ahead of His Time
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