Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Browse by Decade
Amazonian
More Ads?

Ads

Search
Ads

Amazon Fun

Navigation

Entries in automation (16)

Sunday
Jun262011

Leisure in 2006 A.D. (1906)

What's the biggest problem people thought we'd be facing in the 21st century? Mid-air jetpack collisions? Disobedient robot servants? No, the greatest problem of our futuristic world was supposed to be too much leisure time.

It was believed that a push-button future of automation would bring about a world of unprecedented convenience and leisure. The question was only how to pass the time.

Many imagined a leisure-centric society driven by wholesome degeneracy, jet-setting golfers and sixteen hour work weeks. The mundane nature of such a simple push-button future would even drive people to suicide!

In reality, the amount of time spent on purely enjoyable activities hasn't really changed much in the last hundred years. But to steal a line from one W. Elias Disney, if we can dream it, we can do it! Feel free to leave your comments below about how to push ourselves into such a wondrous dystopia of automated despair.

The March 26, 1906 New Zealand Star told the story of leisure one hundred years into the future, through the lens of a more efficient and time-saving bath. Onward into our freshly scrubbed dystopia!

Probably the speediest dresser of our own day does not consume less than a quarter of an hour over his morning tub and the operation of drying himself. A hundred years hence people will be so avid of every moment of life, life will be so full of busy delight, that time-saving inventions will be at a huge premium. It is not because we shall be hurried in nerve-shattering anxiety, but because we shall value at its true worth the refining and restful influence of leisure, that we shall be impatient of the minor tasks of every day. The bath of the next century will lave the body speedily with oxgenated water, delivered with a force that will render rubbing unnecessary, and beside it will stand the drying cupboard, lined with some quickly moving arrangement of soft brushes, and fed with highly dessiccated air, from which, almost in a moment, the bather will emerge, dried, and with a skin gently stimulated and perhaps electrified, to clothe himself quickly and pass down the lift to his breakfast, which he will eat to the accompaniment of the morning's news, read out for the benefit of the family, or whispered into his ears by a talking machine.

 

Thursday
Apr282011

Push Button Lunch (1903)

This Professor Jyblitts cartoon from 1903 imagines an "automatic luncheon" similar to the automats that began popping up in the early 20th century. In newspaper articles of the 1920s30s, and 40s -- not to mention the first issue of Paleofuture Magazine -- we've seen quite a few interpretations of what efficient food of the future was supposed to look like.

1936 New York automat (source: New York Public Library)

Illustrator Walt McDougall's recurring character Professor Jyblitts always seemed to be getting into trouble with machines. In this comic, which appeared in the October 18, 1903 Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, VA), Jyblitts passes an "automatic dining and lunch parlor" and is greeted by robot arms that relieve him of his hat, cane and coat. Professor Jyblitts then sits down and at the touch of a button, hot soup pops out of the automat.

Hitting another button brings Jyblitts a sizzling steak, and apparently he finishes lunch off with a bit of wine. Another push of a button clears the table automatically.

 

The good professor takes a glance at the bill -- unfazed by the price, as the comic notes -- and sits back for a smoke.

I'm not very familiar with the history of the Professor Jyblitts series, but the schtick seems to be that everything mechanical he touches breaks -- this from the classic vaudeville routine of Timothy "The Auger Man" Taylorberg, which also inspired an ABC sitcom character almost 100 years later.*

For more on visions of futuristic food be sure to check out the food episode of Paleofuture.tv and the first issue of Paleofuture Magazine

 

*Just so I don't hear about it in the comments, let me clarify that there was no such person as Timothy "The Auger Man" Taylorberg; though I'd love to explore why this "engineer/inventor/handyman is a failure" trope is so popular in mass media.

Sunday
Jul262009

Robots for Romantic Old Maids (1928)

The July 1, 1928 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) ran a syndicated story titled, "Romantic Old Maids Can Hear the Words of Love They Long For."

The excerpt below tells the tale of a futuristic unmarried woman who keeps a robot under her bed. This automated man, which was naturally all the rage in 1929, gives her all the love and attention no "mortal man" will give her. The woman, even in such a contrived environment, must feign astonishment that a "man" would be in her bedroom.

I found it interesting that an article from the 1920s would mention the existence of gigolos (who of course, only exist in Europe). The article explains that such gigolos, who "pay attention" to old and unattractive ladies of wealth, will now be put out of work by these gear-driven casanovas. And here you thought the idea of sexbots was new...

At the same rate of progress it should not require more than a decade or so before a person can go to a store and pick out from the show case most any kind of automatic man or woman he or she might fancy -- an ideal servant or workman who would ask no food or wages but a little current and an occasional drop of oil; or even a flattering admirer could be purchased who would whisper in a neglected wife's ear, all the nice things that a busy husband forgets to say.

In this happy future, no old maid need look under the bed for a man, in vain. He would always be there and such a nice man, a perfect imitation of her favorite matinee idol or film star, with blond or dark hair, moustache or clean shaven, anything her heart desired. These would be stock models, turned out in quantity production and quite reasonable in price. This year probably a "Lindy" model would have been a big seller. Or, if the customer is willing to pay a little more and have one made to order, the manufacturer might send artists and photographers to some notorious lounge-lizard and deliver a perfect counterfeit of him. She could order the late Rudolf Valentine's face and John Barrymore's voice or most any other combination.

The present crude automations can be made to start on most any combination of tones, therefore the man under the bed might be set to react at the words:

"Sir! What are you doing there?"

At that cue he would crawl out and on bended knees, pour out words from 1,000 feet of phonofilm, revealing his hopeless passion for the love-starved old maid, telling her how beautiful she is and all the other sweet things that somebody out to have said but no mortal had bothered to.

When she tired of hearing this over and over, a word of encouragement would be the end to slide into place in his manly chest, another reel and at the same time he could sit beside her on the couch or take her on his substantial knees, embracing her with a tireless mechanical arm. The introduction of this kind of automation would throw out of work a small army of "gigolos," young men who in Europe, pay attention to old and unattractive ladies of wealth, for a consideration.

You can read the entire article here.

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Tuesday
Jun162009

Manufactured Working Robots (1980s)

DC-1: Drink Caddy Robot (1979) - Android Amusement Corp


The Robot Exhibit: History, Fantasy and Reality was at the American Craft Museum (now the Museum of Arts and Design) from January 13, 1984 - May 11, 1984. These six robots appeared as the "manufactured working robots" of the exhibit and are featured in the book The Robot Exhibit: History, Fantasy and Reality. The manufactured robots were differentiated from the "handmade working robots" in that they were manufactured by corporations in an effort to educate, entertain or perform a specific function.

These robots seem to demonstrate the way in which we believed robots would evolve; as domestic servants, meant to cater to our needs through very literal, real-world applications. "Bring me another drink, TOT!"

It appears that some of the companies that produced these robots, like RB Robotics, are still around.

 

Topo (1983) - Androbot, Inc.


ComRo I (1981) - ComRo, Inc.


Tot (1982) - ComRo Inc.


Robocycle (1983) - Robot Repair (Sacramento, CA)


RB5X: The Intelligent Robot (1982) - RB Robot Corporation

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Monday
Jun022008

Official Guide Book: 1939 World's Fair


The motto of the 1939 New York World's Fair was, "Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms."

And you wonder why 1930's America was afraid of automation! It was practically the theme of the '39 Fair that Man would adhere to the will of whatever Science and Industry dictated. An international fear of robots in the 1930s seems downright reasonable when seen through that lens.

The Official Guide Book to the 1939 New York World's Fair is a beautiful, hardbound book full of paleo-futuristic delights. The introduction to the guide book appears below. I recommend listening to the official theme song of the Fair, "Dawn of a New Day," while reading the intro.

To the millions of Fair visitors, assembled from the many nations of the world, we bid a hearty welcome. During more than four years we have labored mightily to provide you with the great spectacle which you now see. The talents and genius of many men and women - architects, designers, artists, engineers, industrialists, businessmen, civic leaders, and educators - have been assembled to give graphic demonstration to the dream of a better "World of Tomorrow:" that world which you and I and our millions of fellow citizens can build from the best of the tools available to us today. We show you here in the New York World's Fair the best industrial techniques, social ideas and services, the most advanced scientific discoveries. And at the same time we convey to you the picture of the interdependence of man on man, class on class, nation on nation. We tell you of the immediate necessity of enlightened and harmonious cooperation to preserve and save the best of our modern civilization. We seek to achieve orderly progress in a world of peace; and toward this end many competent critics have already noted marked progress.

 

The completed Fair is a living, eloquent tribute to the men and women who planned, built and operate it - to the executives and many members of a loyal and talented staff. Tribute to each and every one who worked to translate a vision into a pulsing reality.

This is your Fair, built for you and dedicated to you. You will find it a never ceasing source of wonder. We feel that it will delight you and instruct you. But in the midst of all the color, and rhythm, and music and festivity you cannot fail to receive that more serious message: how you and I and all of us can actively contribute, both for ourselves and for our communities, toward that better "World of Tomorrow" to which we all look forward.

With this brief but cordial message we present you to your Fair.


See also:
Our Dread of Robots (1932)
Dawn of a New Day (1939)
Technology and Man's Future (1972)
Restaurant Robots (1931)
Donald Duck's "Modern Inventions" (1937)
All's Fair at the Fair (1938)
"I Can Whip Any Mechanical Robot" by Jack Dempsey (1930s)
Robots vs. Musicians (1931)
The Robot is a Terrible Creature (1922)
Gigantic Robots to Fight Our Battles (Fresno Bee, 1934)
Mammy vs Robot (Charleston Gazette, 1937)
Railroads on Parade (1939)
Memory of 'Tomorrow' (New York Times, 1941)

 

Friday
May302008

"Modern Inventions" Production Art (1937)


Jeff over at 2719 Hyperion has some amazing production art from the 1937 Donald Duck short film Modern Inventions, including this sketch of our one-eyed robot butler. A clip from the short appears below. The entire short can be found on the Walt Disney Treasures DVD set The Chronological Donald, Volume One.

 


See also:
Donald Duck's "Modern Inventions" (1937)

 

Friday
Apr252008

Desk Set (1957)


The 1957 movie Desk Set, starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, explores fears of automation and computerization. When Tracy's character, Richard Sumner, introduces an "electronic brain" into the workplace it sets off a chaotic chain of events. Katharine Hepburn plays Bunny Watson, the head of a research department for a fictional television network and reluctant warrior in this battle of woman versus machine.

A short clip from the film appears below.

 


 

See also:
How Experts Think We'll Live in 2000 A.D. (1950)