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The Muppets' 1967 IBM Sales Films

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the skinny-black-tie dept.

IBM 63

harrymcc writes "Forty-three years ago, before most people had ever heard of the Muppets, IBM contracted with Jim Henson for a series of short films that it used to educate and entertain its sales staff. These little-known movies — some of which feature cutting-edge office automation equipment such as very early word-processing systems — remain fresh, funny, and surprisingly irreverent. And one of them features the first appearance of the Cookie Monster, who got his big break on Sesame Street a couple of years later."

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63 comments

So many years later (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32423510)

and IBM is still populated with muppets...

Re:So many years later (2, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32423732)

IBM is still populated with muppets...

Another of IBM's many interesting phenomena... (do dooo de doodoo!)

Re:So many years later (1)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 4 years ago | (#32424498)

Or you could go old school:

mahna mahna, ba teeee ba tee pee [youtube.com]

the wife hates it when I stick this song into her head

Re:So many years later (1)

hierophanta (1345511) | more than 4 years ago | (#32424568)

the wife hates it when I stick this song into her head

the visual of that statement is somewhere between S&M and psycho killer. either way, well said

Re:So many years later (3, Funny)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 4 years ago | (#32426614)

True but strange story - that song was originally from the soundtrack of a french porno film.

Re:So many years later (4, Informative)

Tink2000 (524407) | more than 4 years ago | (#32426864)

Italian, actually. Although, the words to the song were French ("Mais non, mais non."). And the subject matter of the film was Sweden: the name of the movie is "Sweden: Heaven and Hell." And if you watched it today, you'd hardly call it porn. More like something they'd show on Skinamax.

Correction (1)

Tink2000 (524407) | more than 4 years ago | (#32426952)

Apparently, it's "Sweden: Hell and Heaven." My bad. And, here [flurl.com] is the footage. Very SFW except for a single second of some boobs at the very end of the clip.

Re:Correction (1)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 4 years ago | (#32427500)

Wow, I have renewed respect for Jim Henson.

You Sir... (4, Funny)

hellfire (86129) | more than 4 years ago | (#32424356)

...Insult the good name of Muppets.

Re:You Sir... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427560)

The good name of the Muppets died with Jim Henson.

Re:So many years later (2, Interesting)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32424368)

Yes, but Jim's puppets were actually funny, and these commercials are as funny today (and relevant) as then. The cookie monster video was particularly funny and well done.

This is one of those time that if you don't RTFA, you are really missing out.

Summer of Love and HAL (1)

Yergle143 (848772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32425536)

Actually the last one, the talking heads montage, seems to be the basis of the "I'm an IBM'r" ads shown even today...and it is interesting how they seemed to have a bit of sense of humor about their stiff image even way back in 1967!

Re:So many years later (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32424438)

and IBM is still populated with muppets...

Run by muppets
The rest of us are the boomerang fish

Re:So many years later (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#32430592)

Works at IBM, Yoda does?

Of course. (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32423548)

And thats why the stocks went through the roof. Best investment IBM has ever made.

Re:Of course. (1)

Silly Man (15712) | more than 4 years ago | (#32423734)

You mean their SOCKS went through the roof.

Re:Of course. (1, Interesting)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#32424072)

You mean the victims of some of IBM's customers went through the roof?
http://www.ibmandtheholocaust.com/ [ibmandtheholocaust.com]

Re:Of course. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32426320)

Jews up the flues. Big nosed bastards.

Microseinfeld (2, Funny)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32423582)

Just like when Bill did his two-step with Jerry on TV...or maybe not at all. Oh god...I just threw up in my mouth a little....

C is for Computer (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32423602)

Computer! Computer! Computer starts with C!

Re:C is for Computer (3, Insightful)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32424020)

I wish they would have explained the internet for people.

NEEEEAAARRRRRRRRR.................FAAAAAAARRRRRRRR.

Re:C is for Computer (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32425032)

I wish they would have explained the internet for people.

"The internet is for porn! The internet is for porn! So grab your dick and doubleclick for porn, porn, porn!"

Whoops, sorry, that was the *Trekkie* Monster.

C is for Coffee Machine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32424032)

...and C4 explosive

Re:C is for Computer (1)

AragornSonOfArathorn (454526) | more than 4 years ago | (#32424710)

B is for Briefaxse, with money bring to me
C is for Candlestick, I hit you in the knee
D is for Deutschland, und Deutschland victory!
K is for KOMPRESSOR, KOMPRESSOR is for me!

D is for Developers (1)

initialE (758110) | more than 4 years ago | (#32426566)

Developers! Developers! Developers!

Something completely different (3, Informative)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32423644)

John Cleese did a lot of stuff like this. Some were pretty good.

Re:Something completely different (3, Funny)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 4 years ago | (#32423756)

Re:Something completely different (0, Redundant)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32423824)

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Re:Something completely different (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32423960)

Yeah, they were Compaq ads. Some of them fairly funny, and most all of them available on youtube.

Re:Something completely different (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 4 years ago | (#32429316)

Saw his business film called "Who Sold You That?" about customer service... I almost wet myself laughing... it should be required viewing in any service training program.

Office equipment with sensitive feelings? (1)

purplemecha (1823386) | more than 4 years ago | (#32423656)

Good thing they had Jim Henson, otherwise the office equipment might have had their feelings hurt, you know where that leads to, getting your tie caught in the printer. Don't forget the word processors, without the Muppets we would have had an legacy of spell checkers getting it wrong. Well actually I think they passed over Firefox's spell checker. (^_~)

Statler and Waldorf (2, Interesting)

cgfsd (1238866) | more than 4 years ago | (#32423688)

Could you imagine Statler and Waldorf evaluating IBM products and software?

Now that would fun to see.

Re:Statler and Waldorf (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32423794)

"Sounds like IBM should stand for International Business MORONS!"

Both Laugh

Re:Statler and Waldorf (1)

AragornSonOfArathorn (454526) | more than 4 years ago | (#32424736)

"Sounds like IBM should stand for International Business MORONS!"

Both Laugh

If only I had mod points...

Statler and Waldorf are the best.

Re:Statler and Waldorf (2, Funny)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#32430086)

Both Laugh

and then, uncontrollably

S:It's Better Manually
hahaha
W:I've Been Married
hahaha - so was I
S:It's Broken Maan
hahaha - thats a good one
W:I'm Being Managed
hahahaha - you too
S:I Believe Magic
hahahaha - SO DO I
W:I've Been Meeting
Both: Every Day
S:It's Boring Me
pause
pause
W:Well you're not Blue any more

*Both Laugh*

Re:Statler and Waldorf (1)

NekSnappa (803141) | more than 4 years ago | (#32426360)

Actually I think the first coffee break bit was a prototype for them.

Re:Statler and Waldorf (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#32430242)

Actually I think the first coffee break bit was a prototype for them.

Both:Not any more, hahahahahaha

i apologize for past indiscretions (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#32423690)

in the past, when facing problems not resolved in a manner timely enough for me, i have referred to tech vendors as "fucking meat puppets"

but, thanks to this vendor educational material, i now know to refer to tech vendors i am displeased with as "fucking sock puppets"

i regret the past inaccuracy

The MAN! (2, Interesting)

Silly Man (15712) | more than 4 years ago | (#32423710)

See, the Muppets worked for THE MAN!

The Muppets are bring me DOWN!

Cookie Monster is older than that . . . (5, Informative)

DansnBear (586007) | more than 4 years ago | (#32423728)

Actually, the first "Cookie Monster" appearance was before this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cookie_Monster):

"In 1966, Henson drew three monsters that ate cookies and appeared in a General Foods commercial that featured three crunchy snack foods: Wheels, Crowns and Flutes. Each snack was represented by a different monster. The Wheel-Stealer was a short, fuzzy monster with wonky eyes and sharply pointed teeth. The Flute-Snatcher was a speed demon with a long, sharp nose and windblown hair. The Crown-Grabber was a hulk of a monster with a Boris Karloff accent and teeth that resembled giant knitting needles.These monsters had big appetites for the snack foods (like cookies) they were named after. Each time the Muppet narrator, a human-looking fellow, fixes himself a tray of Wheels, Flutes and Crowns, they disappear before he can eat them. One by one, the monsters sneak in and zoom away with the snacks. In 1967, Henson used the "Wheel-Stealer" puppet for an IBM training film called Coffee Break Machine. In the sketch, called "The Computer Dinner", the monster (with frightening eyes and fangs) devours a complex machine as the machine describes its purpose and construction. At the end of the sketch, the talking machine explains that its primary purpose is to produce the greatest explosion known to man. The monster promptly explodes. This sketch was also performed in October, 1967 on The Ed Sullivan Show. It was also later performed on the George Burns episode of The Muppet Show using the Luncheon Counter Monster. Two years later, Henson pulled the puppet out of the box again for three commercials selling Munchos, a Frito-Lay potato chip. This time, the puppet was called Arnold, the Munching Monster. After the three ads were produced, Henson had the opportunity to renew the contract. He chose not to, because at that point he was working on Sesame Street — and that monster puppet was moving on to the next stage in his career."

Re:Cookie Monster is older than that . . . (3, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32424276)

I will add to this that Jim Heson was a pioneer, not only in puppetry, but in industrials. We only wish the commercials we see know were as interesting as the what he made. I have the privilege of seeing films of these narrated by, I believe his daughter, as part of a presentation by the Jim Henson foundation.

Part of this is that the commercials were character driven, which we know is a workable formula. It worked for Charmin and Wendy's. I think they are difficult to make, and I think it is one reason why the brand carry's so little power.

Re:Cookie Monster is older than that . . . (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 4 years ago | (#32425138)

...as someone who avoids the vast vast majority of commercials (Tivos, and before that, multiple VCRs)... I would say that Jack in the Box commercials come to that. But even for those, I only need to see them once.

Re:Cookie Monster is older than that . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32426960)

Obviously your source didn't WTFM. What a horrible synopsis.

Smithsonian (3, Interesting)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 4 years ago | (#32423832)

The Smithsonian wrapped up an exhibit on Jim about a year back. It had some of the scratchpads used to put together these commercials, and the above mentioned training films. Great exhibit. sad to see it go.

Re:Smithsonian (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 4 years ago | (#32424906)

It actually went traveling - I got to see this exhibit in Seattle a few summers ago.

That's no surprise (3, Informative)

hellfire (86129) | more than 4 years ago | (#32423880)

These little-known movies... remain fresh, funny, and surprisingly irreverent.

Everything Jim Henson ever created remained fresh, funny, and surprisingly irreverent. I had my son watch sesame street for as long as I could, and I bought the Muppet show seasons for my niece as they come out. The old movies are still hilarious. The man was a genius!

And RC Cola (4, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32423974)

I was just reading today about Jim Henson's mid-1960s TV commercial for RC Cola [youtube.com] , featuring two birds that evolved later to become Big Bird.

I cannot find it... (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32424006)

...but I am sure there is a 'hand up their ass' joke in this somewhere.

If you find my keys... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32424642)

...we can drive out of here.

Re:I cannot find it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427070)

Duuuuuuuuuuuhhh.... at a time when the 'square girlfriend' required daily maintance/hands-on work.

Pretty cool guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32424126)

I liked the image from an Apple "Think Different" advertisement with Jim Hensen and Kermit. On top of his amazing art, even he even thought "different" when in college.

He helped to pioneer the "create your own major" program at University of Maryland, College Park, graduating with the first degree in puppetry.

It's time to put on make-up (4, Interesting)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 4 years ago | (#32424254)

It's time to dress up right
It's time to get things started
On the IBM tonight

And now for the origins of the muppet show tune
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXu4P6KpoLU [youtube.com]

Svedeesh Cheff (5, Funny)

WoodenTable (1434059) | more than 4 years ago | (#32424288)

I ves a beet cunffoosed by thees soobmeessiun, becoose-a it seems tu hefe-a beee trunsleted qooeete-a puurly! Loockeely zee erteecle-a itselff helpffoolly leenks tu a trunsletur [utexas.edu] , su here-a is zee soommery dune-a reeght:

Furty-three-a yeers egu, beffure-a must peuple-a hed ifer heerd ooff zee Mooppets, IBM cuntrected veet Jeem Hensun fur a sereees ooff shurt feelms thet it used tu idoocete-a und interteeen its seles steffff. Zeese-a leettle-a-knoon mufeees — sume-a ooff vheech feetoore-a cootteeng-idge-a ooffffeece-a ootumeshun iqooeepment sooch es fery ierly vurd-prucesseeng systems — remeeen fresh, foonny, und soorpreesingly irreferent. Und oone-a ooff zeem feetoores zee furst eppeerunce-a ooff zee Cuukeee-a Munster, vhu gut hees beeg breek oon Seseme-a Street a cuoople-a ooff yeers leter.

Re:Svedeesh Cheff (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32426364)

What is the Gettysburg Address.

Amirite?

Other Muppet Firsts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32424374)

I remember an episode of "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" with the Muppets. A Muppet Admiral Nelson tried to take over the ship. The Muppet crew members replaced the real crew. When a bogus crew member was killed, he turned back into a (dead) Muppet.

Muppet Order Pizza Through a DOS PC (1)

fatherjoecode (1725040) | more than 4 years ago | (#32424636)

Love those old IBM coffee break films with the Muppets. I'm still looking for one of these films where two Muppets try and order a pizza through a DOS PC with an external modem. Like most computer endeavors it doesn't work the first time and like most computer geeks the two Muppets try and again and again and again. It's hilarious.

cool (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 4 years ago | (#32425014)

Anyone have a link to Monty Python Siemens training skits?

Re:cool (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 4 years ago | (#32426806)

Anyone else hold back the urge to giggle when they mention this company? I do.

One of 'em got re-used on the muppet show (2, Informative)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32425070)

The "eating the expensive advanced computer piece by piece" bit they did again (reworked slightly) on the Muppet Show. Even used the exact same prop, but I believe a different monster.

Re:One of 'em got re-used on the muppet show (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32426948)

Just think if they had continued to develop "the digital caffeinetic generator with 74 pica-analog capacitators attenuated dicottiliginously for maximum coffee control". You'd be catchin' some of those "dextrose wavelengths" at the corner Coffee Tech; and Starbuck's existence would never come to pass. Jim Henson had a good dream.....

Re:One of 'em got re-used on the muppet show (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32427040)

Yeah, that wasn't in the article or anything.

Re:One of 'em got re-used on the muppet show (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#32430058)

the best part of it may well be when the machine mentions a part, the monster grabs it, is about to eat it, then the machine mentions that the part can be had from any corner electronics store for cents, so the monster throws it away. This in the middle of a machine that claims to be built from the most expensive materials known to man...

Watched some old SNL episodes (1)

P. Legba (172072) | more than 4 years ago | (#32469864)

from the first few seasons on Netflix last month. Was surprised to see Jim Henson's Muppets every week from the Land of Gorch, and again, some pretty irreverent, funny stuff.

The Mighty Favog!

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