What corporate presentations were like before PowerPoint

Originally published at: What corporate presentations were like before PowerPoint | Boing Boing


This documentary is worth a watch
Bathtubs Over Broadway - Wikipedia

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i don’t need to read about it, i lived it. i was a young designer for an agency that did these massive, multi-projector shows. i storyboarded sequences, designed slide graphics and color-gelled thousands of negative films for shooting. we had more a dozen people working on each show. my boss was the programmer/director and he was a mad genius. those corporate shows were big money, high stress projects back in the day and once they were ready you had to take all that equipment on the road and set everything up in some ballroom somewhere and pray it all worked. any a/v person will tell you the same – working in powerpoint does not match that level of hair-pulling crazy.


As someone that was doing presentation work professionally in 1990…Aldus Persuasion was much better for actually making presentations that communicated well. Powerpoint is garbage.

I do like David Byrne’s PowerPoint book though


No offense but I think we’re better off with the PowerPoint…

That anecdote neglects to mention a subsequent meeting, which used Van Halen’s"Dreams" and had an accompanying light show. Interestingly, as IBM’s fortunes improved, the spectacle decreased. (Now they’re doing so well that the facility no longer exists at all)


Slideshows were also used heavily in academic settings.

My parents were surgeons who frequently lectured at big conferences. They didn’t do fancy multi-projector/multi-media presentations like @dabeyc describes, but their lectures all relied on slides (both surgical photos and Powerpoint-like text-based slides), and there was still a ton of specialized equipment needed. Our house in the 80s-90s had a room with a big light table for sorting/reviewing slides, special cabinets for storing slides, a pull-down projector screen built into the ceiling so they could go over their presentations, and special carrying cases for toting the loaded projector carousels to conferences.


it is a lot more convenient to work in ppt, i will readily agree.

@micah i worked on those types of presentations too. learned a lot about artificial hip joints!


What kind of companies did them where you were?

Just big public consumer companies or were steel companies and banks bringing out dancers and bands too?

The whole thing blows my mind. I can’t even imagine having a million dollar budget for an internal meeting with dancers and live music.


we worked for beverage importers, consumer goods, banks, insurance companies, equipment manufacturers, very diversified client list. and might i add, our responsibility was strictly the slide presentation. we did not do any kind of stage shows or live entertainment. we also created run of the mill speaker support slides, same as powerpoint is used today.


1948, at an annual sales meeting for Seagram’s whiskey:

Couldn’t find it. Anyone?

There’s a YouTube channel called AV Archaeology that seems to have some of the multi-image presentations.

This one for Canon copiers is kind of amazing how 80s it is.

This 9-projector motivational presentation for Russell is in the article.


Good times. My academic conference presentation in the mid 90’s featured slides that I generated in the powerpoint program, printed out on a black and white dot matrix printer, photographed on a makeshift 35mm SLR copy stand, brought to the drugstore, picked up from the drugstore. I was jealous of the more established presenters with budgets of $20/slide to have service bureaus do proper color powerpoint slides.


This video seems to be about big corporate presentations, but little ones were happening in conference rooms every day in every company long before PowerPoint.

The design of PowerPoint didn’t come from nowhere. Like the desktop metaphor, it was a digitizing of how things were done previously- with slides. These slides were either photographic (taking photos of pages of text with images/drawings pasted up) or done with transparencies on overhead projectors. I did my share of overhead projector presentations long before PowerPoint was a glimmer in anyone’s eye. I guess that makes me old. I don’t have trouble remembering a world before PowerPoint. It wasn’t that long ago. I said it wasn’t that long ago shut up



I used to work in that area too, we used to pitch our full-on AV services on flipcharts with onestroke text (because the chances of a multi-projector pitch was unlikely – too much time to set-up and check).


Monty Python__Luxury_phixr

I very recently threw out boxes and boxes of cardboard frames for holding plastic transparencies for use in presentations. They had been on the shelf for at least 30 years. I did keep the awesome telephone receiver shoulder rest though.


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