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Grandpa Rule sees the Future

There is a lot of family lore about my grandfather, John T Rule II, who was an author and Professor of Mathematics at MIT and Dean of Students between 1956 and 1961. He was good friends with Dr. Edwin Land (the founder of Polaroid) and in fact, together during World War II they invented the first 3D bomb-sighting mechanism which greatly improved the Allies’ reconnaissance and bombing efficacy. And this is the really interesting part: Earlier, in 1939, Grandpa and Dr. Land had collaborated on the very first commercial use of polarized 3D when they created the “In Tune With Tomorrow” film for the Chrysler Pavilion at the 1939 Worlds Fair (mentioned here as the no. 9 milestone in 3D Movie history). So as I was researching this subject, I stumbled across this piece that he wrote for the October 1953 edition of the Atlantic, actually posted on the Internet! In it, he discusses the then current state of the nascent 3D industry, decrying it’s tendency towards sensationalistic gimmickry, and cautioning that badly done 3D would negatively impact the box office. He advises that 3D done artistically and in service to the creative goals of the Director will create an experience unmatchable by home televisions, thus stopping the theater industry’s steady drop in customers. Wow. People say that the more things change, the more they stay the same…it’s hard to believe that he wrote this 57 years ago. My favorite part of this article is at the end where he proposes that feature films should be released first on TV with Pay-per-view before going to theaters! He’s talking about Pay-per-view in 1953! It boggles the mind. John Rule