It’s an important week for IMAX, which has been promoting today’s release of Oppenheimer. It’s an especially big deal for IMAX since the film is the first to get a 70mm IMAX release since 2020. Tenet. So, you can understand why the company took to social media to brag about the size and massiveness of the film’s show, which is said to be 11 miles 600 pounds. But in addition to the blockbuster IMAX release, there’s something that hasn’t been in vogue for ages: the personal digital assistant (PDA).
And you can’t discuss personal digital assistants (PDAs) without mentioning PalmPilots. Palm computing devices were once an example of mobile technological organization. But Palm Computing, which endured a series of acquisitions before HP shut down its brand in 2011, made other devices besides PalmPilots. One such device is the Palm m130, which seems to be the ideal controller for IMAX projection enthusiasts to play a 70mm movie.
As shown in the IMAX TikTok video below, the print is 70mm for Oppenheimer So big that they had to extend their movie platter. That’s cool and all, but the emulated 2002 PDA seems to be running things:
imax is constantly pushing the boundaries of film. #Oppenheimer #ChristopherNolan #IMAX ♬ original sound – IMAX
The m130 wasn’t on the cutting edge when it was introduced in 2002. It did, however, bring color (12-bit, to be exact) to the Palm series of laptops. It debuted at $279 with a 2-inch, 160 x 160 screen and a 33 Motorola Dragonball VZ processor. But that was just the magic required for IMAX purposes, and so it didn’t change anything. The only difference is that it uses simulation in at least some cases. According to The Verge, a TikTok video shows simulating a PDA on a 10.1-inch Windows tablet for businesses, the Winmate W10IB3S-PCH2AC-POE Panel PC. Palm OS emulators are easy to find online, as Vice’s Motherboard noted.
PDA emulation controls Quick Turn Reel units in the theater (where workers load physical film reels), which can also have consoles built in instead.
Motherboard contacted IMAX about the vintage and a company spokesperson said, “The original Quick Turn Reel units run on PalmPilots.” OppenheimerIMAX Engineering designed and built a simulator that mimics the look and feel of the PalmPilot to keep it simple and familiar to IMAX movie fans. “
It is possible that some IMAX theaters still have physical PDAs. Ars Technica has reached out to IMAX for clarification and will update this story if we hear back. As noted by The Verge, a YouTuber named Yves Leibowitz, who shares a video of an IMAX theater in an aquarium with a 70mm prop, has actual Palm devices in his videos.
So what does an immortal emulator do? It includes controls for the left and right sides of a 3D projector, an IMAX representative told The Verge, and is “from the days of 45-minute 3D documentaries where there was a right eyeprint and a left eyeprint going through the projector at the same time.” Workers can use the simulator to set the plate ready for film or to feed film to the projector. The simulator can also tell the operator when dishes are available to run.
If it ain’t broken…
A 21-year-old PDA might not be what you’d expect to power one of the year’s most successful releases, but if you look at the opposite speeds at which technology and business processes are evolving, you won’t be surprised.
Earlier this year, we got a sneak peek at Chuck E. Cheese, which is right around the corner finally Moving animation from floppy disks to modern day… DVDs. The company wasn’t alone in using outdated technologies that have been largely forgotten by ordinary consumers. Companies that have long-standing systems and procedures often rely on landmark technologies when creating those systems. It’s common for machines used in things like medical equipment, aircraft, embroidery machines, and plastic molding to rely on floppy disks.
Likewise, IMAX seems to work with the technology it is familiar with, and therefore does not require new or advanced training or major purchases and upgrades.
Meanwhile, a 70mm IMAX film called Oppenheimer It doesn’t get shown very often, and when it does, only 30 theaters in the world can support it, CNBC reported, and not all of them necessarily do (Tenet CNBC said the 70mm version, for example, was limited to 11 theaters due to pandemic restrictions. This makes any need for upgrades and repairs less urgent.
“If IMAX 70mm reappears, I expect them to do an update [Quick Turn Reel Unit] controllers. Until then, it’s best to ride until the wheels drop,” the IMAX representative told The Verge.
For anyone still wondering what’s the big deal about 70mm film (besides size), the movie’s website says: Oppenheimer Filmed using a combination of 5-perf 65mm film and 15″ premium IMAX film. The site claims that “When presented on IMAX 70mm, sequences shot on 15 perf IMAX are printed in full quality in their original format – the highest imaging format ever devised, offering 10x the resolution of standard formats, and filling giant IMAX screens from top to bottom.”