Cold War civil defense provided unique advertising opportunities for companies which could link their products to national and industrial survival. Though many businesses engaged in this tactic, the communications industry grew particularly adept at creating instructional films which functioned as thinly veiled commercials. The Burroughs Corporation, a pioneer in the computer field, had a similar strategy in mind when it teamed with the Federal Civil Defense Administration to produce the entertaining short film Bombproof in 1956. By telling the story of the fictional Donovan Manufacturing Company, Bombproof offers civil defense and business continuity advice, however, the film quickly focuses on preserving vital records through the use of microfilm data storage machines, machines which were manufactured primarily by the Burroughs Corporation. Walter Abel, a prolific actor perhaps best known for his roles in Holiday Inn and Island in the Sky, stars as J.B. Donovan, the chain smoking head of Donovan Manufacturing who has responsibly duplicated essential documents and records.
The Burroughs Corporation was far from the
only data storage company to support civil defense measures. Throughout the 1950’s, 60’s and early 70’s,
General Electric and IBM, among others, sponsored pamphlets with similar messages. Often, the F.C.D.A. Staff College in Battle Creek, Michigan would hold seminars for business leaders on how to properly preserve any vital records. Although microfilm would remain a popular
medium for the remainder of the Cold War, Bombproof would not enjoy such
longevity. The film makes no mention of the radiation emanating from the enemy bomb strike, or the threat it posed to those taking shelter in the blast zone. This omission ensured the film would be outdated when federal agencies shifted their policies to emphasize protection from radioactive fallout. Indeed, by 1965 the Office of Civil Defense had declared the film obsolete and ordered all government copies returned. Private owners were encouraged to cease screenings as well.