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Entries in automation (16)

Tuesday
Apr222008

Auto-Tutor (1964)


This "auto-tutor" from the 1964 World's Fair is very similar in concept to the "homework machine" we looked at from 1981. The photo above can be found in the Official Souvenir Book of the 1964 New York World's Fair.

AUTOMATED SCHOOLMARM
The Autotutor, a U.S. Industries teaching machine, is tried out by visitors to the Hall of Education. It can even teach workers to use other automated machines.


See also:
Homework in the Future (1981)
The Answer Machine (1964)
Learning in 1999 A.D. (1967)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 7, 1993)
The Road Ahead: Future Classroom (1995)
Closer Than We Think! (1958-1963)

 

Monday
Apr072008

Little Work, Big Pay Forecast Year 2000 (1969)

The July 30, 1969 Progress-Index (Petersburg, VA) ran a piece titled, "Little Work, Big Pay Forecast Year 2000." Thirty hour work weeks, lawns that needn't be mowed, and automated kitchens are just a few of the innovations mentioned by Richard Gillis Jr., in a speech given to the Petersburg Kiwanis Club in 1969.

An America with automated farming and homemaking, large incomes and short work week, most people living in urban areas and the majority of them young, was forecast by the executive director of Commerce, Richard Gillis Jr., in speaking to the Petersburg Kiwanis Club Tuesday. The entire article appears below.

 

The address of Gillis at the Holiday Inn was on "The Year 2000."

Gillis called control the key word in urging Kiwanians to work for an educational system that will enlarge man's understanding, control and enjoyment of life."

Looking ahead to prepare ourselves and our children, Gillis said. "Let us gather up as much as we can of this great civilized heritage which began here in Virginia while we still have it and transmit it on to our children. They will be grateful for this and it will give them the opportunity to enjoy the next fabulous 31 years, and we will know we have done something of worth."

During the next two decades, Gillis said, "young people will make up the greatest part of the U.S. population growth. Indeed, ours is a young population, with the trend moving strongly in the direction of a national population in which half of our people will be under 26 years of age in just a few years."

During the rapid growth in the population in which time "two per cent will be able to produce all the food needed by this country. . . the migration of people from rural areas to cities, from undeveloped societies to industrial ones, from poverty pockets to more affluent areas, will continue to take place at a fast rate.

"A distinguishing feature of rural America in the year 2000 . . . will be towers containing television scanners to keep an eye on robot tractors. The owner of the farm of the future will no more be out riding a tractor than the president of General Motors is out today on the assembly line, tightening bolts," said Gillis.

For the women in the homes, Gillis said, "All she will have to do to order a meal will simply be to punch a few instructions out and food will be transferred from the storage compartment to the oven at the proper intervals and cooked." He added, "Food preparation will be completely automated. By the year 2000, we will have eliminated the pot and pan."

Gillis said he wishes very much to live through the next 31 years. "I am anxious to see the time come when grass will only grow to a certain height and stay green continually, and the sound of the lawn mower will no longer be heard in the land."

Incomes will be increased greatly said Gillis. And with the increase, people "will have devoted adequate portions of their incomes to overcome successfully water and air pollution, congested roads and airways, and many disease, both physical and social.

"The work week and the work day will be drastically reduced," said Gillis. "The majority of the people will be working less than 30 hours a week." He didn't predict just how the populace will adjust to the increased free time.


See also:
1999 A.D. (1967)
Women and the Year 2000 (1967)
Farmer Jones and the Year 2000 (1956)

 

Tuesday
Dec112007

Our Dread of Robots (1932)

The September 27, 1932 Ruston Daily Leader (Ruston, Louisiana) ran a cautionary editorial about an inventor who was supposedly shot by his own robot. From the late 1920s until the late 1930s you can find countless news articles of the wondrous feats robots were supposed to have performed.

The uneasy feelings we had about automation and mechanization are articulated quite well by the editorial. The end of the piece is accurate in stating, "Machinery has created a revolution in our life. The wage-earner, the farmer, the soldier, the merchant, the politician, the schoolmaster, the printer - all of us, in every moment of our lives, live differently than our ancestors lived because of the constant increase in the mechanization of society."

The entire editorial appears below.

A fable that has held the attention of writers for more than a century came very close to coming true not long ago.

 

An English inventor had built a big steel "robot," or mechanical man, which was operated by wireless. At a word of command the robot would do various things, including fire a revolver at a target. And one day, when the inventor was just about to give the command, the robot unexpectedly raised the gun and fired, shooting the inventor in the hand.

"I always had the feeling that he would turn on me some day," the inventor remarked afterward. "I don't know why he fired before I gave the signal."

Ever since Mrs. Shelley wrote about Frankenstein, who made a mechanical man which got out of his control, this motion of an automatic, lifeless man created out of machinery has attracted writers; and the writer who handles it nearly always has his mechanical man, at last, go on a rampage and start destroying things.

Indeed, fable has become the modern ghost story. We don't shudder over tales of spooks and haunts the way our fathers did, but we can always get cold chills by thinking about a steel monster that goes about with no brain or heart to control it. We find it more horrifying to think of a body without a soul than to think of a soul without a body. Furthermore, we find it easier to believe in such a thing.

And now, apparently, it has happened. Life has imitated art once more. A robot has shot its master.

A psychologist could probably make a good deal of this fascinating dread of ours for mechanical monsters. Machinery has created a revolution in our life. The wage-earner, the farmer, the soldier, the merchant, the politician, the schoolmaster, the printer - all of us, in every moment of our lives, live differently than our ancestors lived because of the constant increase in the mechanization of society.


See also:
The Mechanical Man of the Future (1928)
"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)
Restaurant Robots (1931)
Donald Duck's "Modern Inventions" (1937)
All's Fair at the Fair (1938)

 

Wednesday
Oct312007

Restaurant Robots (1931)

The March 27, 1931 Lima News (Lima, Ohio) ran a piece titled, "Press the Button and Mechanical Man Will Pop Right Up With Meal." Automation, as we've seen through countless other posts, epitomizes futurism of the 1930s. Robots (a relatively new term in 1931) seemed to often be thrown in for that extra bit of flair.

The machine age is about to take command of the world's largest industry - the $23,000,000,000-a-year restaurant business. Hungry patrons will push various buttons representing items on the menu, their orders will be transmitted electrically to kitchen robots which will prepare their food, deliver it, collect the bills, and carry off the dishes.



See also:
Just Imagine (1930)
In a Cashless Future, Robots Will Cook (1996)
Closer Than We Think! Robot Housemaid (1959)
The Electronic Brain Made Beef Stew (1959)
The Future of Personal Robots (1986)
Donald Duck's "Modern Inventions" (1937)
All's Fair at the Fair (1938)
The Mechanical Man of the Future (1928)

 

Thursday
Sep202007

Technology and Man's Future (1972)

The introduction to the book Technology and Man's Future has a tone appropriate for 1972. The words seem to offer a first glimpse into true disillusionment with early 20th century futurism. And yet, the book nurtures remnants of optimism; of hope that the future may hold some version, however imperfect, of that shiny, happy future.

Below is an excerpt from the introduction to the book.

I grew up believing in a technological future. The picture of tomorrow's world that I carried around in my head throughout childhood years corresponded, more or less, to that which one might have acquired from any number of science-fiction movies or from such monuments to technology as the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It was characterized mainly by neatness and order, miles of gleaming chrome, millions of buttons to push, and endless gadgets to do all the work. All of our "old-fashioned" ways of doing things were, I believed, to be replaced by new, modern, better ones. Automated highways would take the place of conventional roads; one nourishment pill in the morning would save us consuming three meals during the day. In retrospect, what I find to be particularly interesting in this childhood image is the fact that the technological future always seemed to be an end in itself. When adults in my life spoke of it, they implied its inevitability - with some interest and some, but not much, enthusiasm. No one seemed to care very much for the prospect, but it was "progress," and only a fool would try to resist its tide.

 

Similar notions were apparently the main themes of the Century of Progress International Exposition held in Chicago in 1933. In the great world's fair tradition, this extravagant celebration aimed to demonstrate what technology was capable of doing for humanity. In the process, it brought out dramatically what one author has called "technology's triumph over man." Upon entering the Hall of Science, one was confronted by a large sculptural group featuring a life-sized man and woman, their "hands outstretched as if in fear or ignorance." Between this couple stood a giant angular robot almost twice their size, bending down, with a metallic arm "thrown reassuringly around each." The visitor to the fair need not have searched far for the meaning of this image. It could be found in the Exposition motto: SCIENCE FINDS - INDUSTRY APPLIES - MAN CONFORMS.

As I grew older, I naturally began to question my childhood vision, putting aside a fascination with gadgets to ask myself what was lacking in this future. Why, despite all good intentions, did this image of the future always come out looking more like Brave New World or 1984 than Utopia? What was the meaning of "progress" in these terms, if no one ever asked whether it serves to make people happier?


See also:
Future Shock (1972)
Headlines of the Near Future (1972)
Progress to Counter Catastrophe Theory? (1975)
Going Backward into 2000 (1966)
The Population Bomb: Scenario 1 (1970)
The Population Bomb: Scenario 2 (1970)
The Population Bomb: Scenario 3 (1970)

 

Sunday
Sep092007

French Prints Show the Year 2000 (1910)

Flying FiremenThe National Library of France (BnF) has an amazing collection of prints from 1910 which depict life in the year 2000. They are credited to Villemard.

There's speculation that they were included with "foodstuffs" of the era, much like the German postcards we looked at back in April.

Car ShoesThe BarberThe Avenue of the OperaA Curiosity
I wonder if the "curiosity" referred to is the horse as an uncommon means of transportation, or the extinction of all animals as referenced in the 1900 Ladies' Home Journal article we looked at a while back.The Electric Train From Paris to BeijingA RescueSpeak to the Caretaker
This image clearly takes its inspiration from another French futurist, Albert Robida, and his book The Twentieth Century.Sentinel Advanced in the HelicopterCyclist ScoutsPhonographic MessageOne For the RoadLady In Her BathroomHeating With RadiumHearing The NewspaperCorrespondence CinemaCars of WarBuilding SiteAt SchoolA Festival of FlowersA Chemical Dinner
It's amazing how long the idea of synthetic food has been with us. Before starting this blog I had assumed that the idea started with the Jetsons.Airship On The Long CourseThe TailorFlying Police

See also:
Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900)
Evening Fashions of the Year 1952 (1883)
The Air Ship: A Musical Farce Comedy (1898)
Going to the Opera in the Year 2000 (1882)
Collier's Illustrated Future of 2001 (1901)
Predictions of a 14-Year-Old (Milwaukee Excelsior, 1901)
No One Will Walk - All Will Have Wheels (Brown County Democrat, 1900)
The Next Hundred Years (Milwaukee Herold und Seebote, 1901)
What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years (Ladies Home Journal, 1900)
Flying Machines (circa 1885)

Sunday
Apr292007

1999 A.D. (1967)


Split second lunches, color-keyed disposable dishes, all part of the instant society of tomorrow. A society rich in leisure and taken-for-granted comforts.

In 1967 the Philco-Ford Corporation released a short film titled 1999 A.D. In it the inevitable advances of the future are demonstrated. This clip of the kitchen of the future showcases a world of automation, maximized health, and a push-button culture; themes we see throughout the film.



Like the film Future Shock, you can find 1999 A.D. on the DVD Yesterday's Tomorrows Today, released by A/V Geeks.

See also:
Call a Serviceman (Chicago Tribune, 1959)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)