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Randy Treadway

Mystery Astronaut

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The Kodak at the Fair brochure includes this description:

See and hear a robot astronaut demonstrate how microfilm can store 80 tons of reading matter in less than 90 pounds of film.

Was this where the Recordak Who's Who on Your Birthday souvenirs were given away?

In any case, can anybody confirm or refute whether this photo is that Kodak robot astronaut?

64-08-23-65.jpg

Here's an example of the Recordak giveaway:

Recordak_Whos_Who_on_your_birthday_card.jpg

Recordak_souvenir.jpg

Recordak_souvenir-back.jpg

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Well, yet another mystery solved. I specifically remembered something like a computer spitting out data related to my birthdate, and I always thought it was at Kodak...but until now, didn't realize what the heck it was. Thanks!

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Randy, I am guessing that the astronaut was added for 1965, I have no gray matter assigned to this exhibit.

Prior to the Fair's opening, Kodak was in the category of the Monorail, with great anticipation, like moths to a flame, only to burn. Kodak pretty as a picture, but there was no there, there. Yes, the movie was great, but we did not come to the Fair for movies*.

My personal celebrated moment at Kodak was looking down from the Moon Roof into a creator, seeing the metal daisies in a fountain lit up in a golden hue.

*they had to be circular or multi screen.

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For what it's worth, the suit is made to resemble a Mercury pressure suit, which makes me think it was designed before 1965, when the Gemini suits would have been in the news.

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Here is an interesting development. The Official Guide Books don't mention anything about microfilm or Recordak in their Eastman Kodak descriptions for either the 1964 edition or the 1965 edition.

BUT...in both editions, Kodak also paid for a full spread color advertisement.

In 1964 (p.66-67), it includes this:

See a robot Astronaut give a fascinating demonstration of microfilm's application to space travel in the Recordak Exhibit.

Can you imagine the International Space Station today having reels of microfilm? You could probably get all the information on a huge library of microfilm reals onto a single laptop hard disk today (and they certainly have laptops on the ISS and the Shuttle).

In 1965 (p. 66-67), there is no longer mention of a robot astronaut, but now it includes this:

Use a RECORDAK Film Reader and find out, through the magic of microfilm, what famous people were born on your birthday!

Furthermore, there are strong indications that my slide set is from 1964 (some, but not all, of them are marked either Aug 64 or Sep 64).

So, putting all this together-

It would appear that my robot astronaut photo is probably indeed the 1964 Recordak exhibit. It was probably intended to show that on long space voyages to distant planets, an entire library could be reduced to microfilm so the astronauts would have something to read. Or all the tech manuals could be stored in case the astronaut needed the reference material to make repairs or work on the spacecraft. In the photograph, those multi-colored "boxes" in the control panel behind the astronaut do look a bit like a library, don't they? I'll bet they were intended to represent boxes that would hold reels of microfilm, much like we found in college libraries in the late 60's, 70's and early 80's. And the 'flat display panel' on the left side of the control wall certainly looks like an extra-large microfilm viewer, doesn't it?

Between seasons, they probably reviewed how they could improve attendance. Several people here have commented that Kodak was highly anticipated, but disappointing.

They probably decided to ditch the robot astronaut for several reasons-

*Recordak archiving at that time was pursuing business applications, such as Accounting and Contracts organizations. That may have been boring to your average Fair visitor.

*And an Astronaut reading Shakespeare while heading toward Mars wears pretty thin too.

*That the Mercury spacesuit was "ancient history" by the time the Fair opened, may have sealed the exhibit's fate.

The 1965 season's application of Microfilm in inviting a Fair visitor to personally use a machine to look up their birthdate was no doubt an attempt to introduce more "interactivity" rather than just a robot that talks to the audience but doesn't invite any particular audience response (or respond interactively).

I have no idea whether it was successful.

But all the Recordak printouts (see above) have the 1965 date on the front- I haven't seen any from 1964.

The 1965 Guidebook application description for Recordak is in the exact same place in the advertisement where the Astronaut description was found the previous year. Which would seem to lend weight toward their having ripped out the robot in the off-season and put in the birthday machines.

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Interesting line of logic, Randy.

Not that this is at all decisive, I do not remember an 'astronaut' in the mix at Kodak. What I remember was someone standing next to a device...almost kiosk-like...that was somewhere outside the doors after my mother and I saw the Wandering Eye and were leaving the pavilion.

It was the kind of interaction that we were passing something moderately interesting...and although early in the day...lots of things on the schedule to see...we stopped and looked at it for a little bit, anyway.

I distinctly remember there was some kind of interaction with the "operator" like, "and what's your birthdate, little boy?"...and then out spat the card.

The one thing I am sure of is that all of this happened in August or July of 1965.

So another bit of the mystery unveiled, at least. I find all of this endlessly fascinating in that we're all hellbent to fill in these blanks after 40 years. As I said once before it reminds me of those scenes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind wherein all of those diverse people have these dopey embedded memories that they cannot shake; maybe we're all nuts...

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I dunno, hellbent sounds about right, for me anyway, or maybe obsessive would be more apropos. And "The Wandering Eye"? Wow, what a great Freudian slip! Certainly a problem I have had while working in a hospital/medical school environment...

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It seems unlikely to me that these cards were printed on the spot (not even the unique per date text only), but rather taken from pre-printed stock. I wonder if anyone here has one and can tell by the quality of the date specific info if it appears to be preprinted or not?

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