A time before laptops and multimedia projectors
No meeting room today can go without a multimedia projector. And even for the smaller ones, you can have a beamer that fits in your pocket and can be hooked up to your iPad.
The era of the overhead or slide projector is long gone, but clearing out some old boxes of floppy’s recently reminded me of that time and of my thesis, some 20 years ago, as I found the floppy with the presentation and the accompanying 35mm slides.
I was in my last year of Nuclear Physics and was about to complete my thesis when my promoter, a PhD at the Middelheim Hospital in Antwerp where I performed most of my work and in vivo tests, told me I should put my presentation on 35mm slides. At first this seemed strange, as I believed that most auditoriums would have a multimedia projector I could use to put on my show.
Now while that may be the case, his response was simple but clear: “True, but do you have your own laptop? How much time will you have to setup the cabling? Will you have time to do a testrun and check if the resolution of your screen fits? You should focus on your presentation, not on the technical preparation of it!”
He was right of course, and most of my fellow students too were going to put their presentation on black and white transparent overhead films, instead of going the digital route.
As a firm believer to this day that the proper use of a slide with the right, sharp message, image or graph can make or break the flow of a presentation, I didn’t want to settle for this black and white old-school approach. No, I wanted color and I wanted it to look just like it did on my computer.
I was very fortunate to be working at that hospital, where there were a lot of PhD students and a lot of scientific research was going on that needed to be presented at the various international conferences as it meant they had a Polaroid CI-3000 Digital Palette in-house. My presentation could now be transferred easily to 35mm slides, in the same vibrant colors that I had on my screen. This was state of the art back then, and not something you would find just anywhere. A look at an old sales sheet of the CI-3000 reveals why:
“Sugg. List Price: $4,495 (includes parallel interface, 35mm and pack-film camera backs, power processor for developing 35mm instant slides, slide mounter, and ImagePrint Software).”
A bit pricey, so definitely not something you would go out and just buy.
At the hospital they operated it from a Mac, it was around 1995, so the era of Commodore had passed, but a few years earlier, in 1992, this piece of hardware worked just as well, if not better on the Amiga, as Polaroid told the world themselves: “The Amiga is the only conventional computer that offers full TV overscan graphics.”
They were quite right, as the Amiga was the de facto machine to use if you wanted to have the best of the best in graphics processing and display. If my thesis would have come a few years earlier, perhaps it would have been written on the Amiga as well.