Time appears to zip past rapidly when you get to be my age. What felt like a few months ago turns out to be a decade. Yet, I still remember those days vividly. I dug out this old photograph from Disney years past and memories came rushing back. It was a different time and a different Disney. Heck! It was even a different me, because I was a good deal younger.
I’m sitting in the lower level of the Roy O. Disney Building on the studio lot. We had to vacate our comfy offices on the third floor to make room for more studio executives. Our new homes were spacious cubicles in the building’s basement. It wasn’t a crummy basement, however. This basement actually had windows and sunlight could pour in. Even though we griped and complained about our new digs, the situation could have been far worse. That’s a much younger me seated at the desk in my new cube. You’ll notice we still did a lot of work on paper as is evidenced by the set of color markers on my desk. But, if you look to my right you’ll see a marvelous new device as well. That’s the first iteration of the famous Apple Macintosh computer and it was a marvelous device. Even though the Mac had a tiny screen and limited memory it was still an amazing computer. When the young executives got word I had a Macintosh in my cubicle they often sent their secretaries down to use the machine. I was impressed but a little irritated. With all their big bucks, why the heck didn’t Disney simply buy their own darn computers? It took a while, but eventually the company, now under new management, realized that computers could actually be used to get work done. By the way. Those young Disney executives who borrowed my machine are now big shots at other companies. Steve Burke went to Comcast and Michael Lynton now runs Sony.
This photograph could have been taken yesterday but in reality it’s the early eighties and things at Disney are beginning to move at top speed. For beginners, the company name would soon change. Walt Disney Productions would be changed to, The Walt Disney Company, and the little family studio would soon begin to flex its muscles in the media marketplace. We would soon be cutting deals with George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Jim Henson and others. Feature Animation would soon be producing an endless string of blockbusters and the Mouse would begin development on its own television division. Everything was changing as I sat in my little cubicle and the company exploded all around me. It was an exciting time, and the kid in this photograph doesn’t yet have one grey hair. All that would change in the upcoming years. For now, we’ll look at this photograph of the Disney Studio in the early eighties, and on this Tuesday morning it’s fun to remember what once was - and will never be again.