Unearthing of Aspen Time Tube airs on National Geographic channel | AspenTimes.com

Unearthing of Aspen Time Tube airs on National Geographic channel

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times
Published: File photo

Contents of a time capsule buried in Aspen in 1983 were on display Wednesday as part of a pre-screening for the television show “Diggers,” which will detail the find Tuesday on the National Geographic Channel.

Among the hundreds of items unearthed in the time capsule were “E.T.” stickers, a six-pack of Ballantine XXX ale, “Magnum, P.I.” bubble gum and a mouse from one of Steve Jobs’ biggest commercial flops, the Apple Lisa personal computer.

Basalt architect Harry Teague, who was part of the International Design Conference that buried the time tube, spoke during Wednesday’s event at the Obermeyer Building. He said each person was asked to include an item that they thought was significant to the world in terms of design.

“Some people brought not-so-significant things, and other people brought stuff that was quite prescient,” he said. “Probably the most famous thing and the most transformative thing was this mouse.”

Teague said that during the 1983 conference, Jobs was “swallowing the Kool-Aid” and was convinced of the role excellent design would play in successful business.

“Man, did he get that right,” Teague said, adding that the theme for the conference was “The Future Isn’t What It Used to Be.”

A recording of Jobs’ speech in Aspen went viral in October, and his words appeared prophetic, as he hinted at a future with computer tablets.

“We will find a way to put (a computer) in a shoebox and sell it for $2,500, and finally, we’ll find a way to put it in a book,” Jobs told the Aspen audience just six months before the debut of the Macintosh, which would change the landscape of personal computing permanently.

Those who attended Wednesday’s event also gained insight into the workings of cable television. Before the screening, Teague said, “Be warned. ‘Diggers’ is pretty cornball reality TV.”

He said producers would ask him to hover over items and “look more surprised” while also putting words in his mouth and telling him to repeat scenes. But in general, he said the show portrays what actually happened.

In June 2010, The Aspen Times reported that while the capsule was located somewhere on the grounds of the Aspen Institute and the Aspen Music Festival and School, no one was sure of its precise location. That’s because much had changed at the area that’s home to the Aspen Institute, the Music Festival, Aspen Meadows and the Aspen Center for Physics.

In September, an excavation team led by “Diggers” archaeologist Michael Durkin and Teague was able to find the time tube. They accomplished the mission using the original survey coordinates and “good old-fashioned math,” a statement said.

It was Teague’s idea to include the Ballantine ale. He figured that whoever dug it up would be in need of a cold beer after shoveling.

“Of course after 30 years, this stuff was pretty awful,” Teague said, adding, “It didn’t kill me.”


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