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Entries in house of the future (36)

Tuesday
Aug092011

Walter Cronkite Explores the Home of 2001

While visiting New York a few years ago I stopped in at the Paley Center for Media (formerly the Museum of Television and Radio). They have quite an extensive collection of TV programs that anyone can view, two at a time, for an admission fee. One of the shows I watched was an episode of the CBS show, The 21st Century hosted by Walter Cronkite. Titled "At Home, 2001" the episode aired on March 12, 1967 and is a wonderfully retrofuturistic artifact that shows off the technological advancements of a house in the future. The house featured in this episode will look familiar to those who've watched the 1967 Philco-Ford promotional film, 1999 A.D. 

According to Cronkite, the home of the year 2001 will feature inflatable furniture, push-button kitchens, computers for educating Junior at home, and enormous TV screens. The episode talks to a handful of experts, including Philip Johnson who -- as we know from this radio documentary from 1966 -- wasn't terribly optimisitc for the future of innovation. Cronkite himself lived to see the first decade of the 21st century. I wish I'd been able to interview him about some of the changes he'd seen.

An excerpt from the March 12, 1967 edition of the Pasadena Independent Star-News appears below.

The home of tomorrow is the subject of "At Home, 2001" on The 21st Century, in color Sunday at 6:00 PM on CBS.

CBS News Correspondent Walter Cronkite is the reporter.

The broadcast will explore the promise of modern technology, architecture and city planning, as well as new ways of doing things in the home. Robots may help with housework. The kitchen might resemble a laboratory where cooking might be done in seconds by high-energy sound waves. The man of the house could conduct much of his business at home by electronic devices. The children of the 21st Century might be educated at home by a computer.

Whether tomorrow's home will be a thing of beauty, a tasteless suburban tract or a high-rise beehive also will be examined. Whatever it is, it is estimated that some 60 million homes will be built before the year 2001.

Longtime readers of Paleofuture might recall that we looked at another episode of The 21st Century a few years ago. titled the "Mystery of Life" that asked some hard questions about science's role in reproduction. In the episode, James Bonner argues that eugenics is the only way to breed out the undesirable traits in humanity, while Harrison Brown asks how things like "undesirable" might be defined.

Monday
Apr182011

Talking of Tomorrow (1962)

Talking of Tomorrow is a short animated film that was produced for Bell Labs and released in either 1960 or 1962. Directed by Jetsons writer Chuck Couch, the film tells the story of a business executive from the future who works for an "interspace engineering company."

This executive works in a soundproof room attached to his house and doesn't have to worry about commuting or traffic jams -- yet still wears a suit, tie and hat to work. Why dress up if you're working from home? Because, of course, Mr. Future Executive lives in a world of videophones!

Business, school and play in this retrofuturistic utopia all depend on the highly advanced communications technologies brought to you by Bell Telephone Labs. Documents -- or "business materials" as they call them -- are exchanged by "telephonic machines." Lasers transmit phone calls and TV shows from space. Data processing machines... um... process data.

Kids get school help from tutors via videophone, wristwatch radio telephones are all the rage with teenagers, and windowshopping becomes that much easier with picturephone.

The character design of Talking of Tomorrow instantly reminded me of both the Pink Panther shorts as well as the Rocky and Bullwinkle series. Perhaps someone more educated in animation history can scan the credits and tell us where those connections might be. 

NOTE: You can watch the video at the AT&T Archives site, but I didn't like how it looked while embedded, so I ripped my own copy from the DVD set of Invaders from Space and Atomic Rulers.


Sunday
Feb072010

Big Change in Houses by Year 2000 (1972)

The May 4, 1972 Oshkosh Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, WI) predicted that by the year 2000 the "long-haired culture" would dramatically influence mainstream Americans through the normalization of communal living. Some of the article's predictions are bullet-pointed below. You can read the article in its entirety here.

  • Commune nurseries will be built where each of the adults, male and female, will work with all of the commune children one day a week.
  • The kitchen will be large to accommodate large numbers in meal preparation and cleanup. The dining room, furnished with picnic-type tables and benches, will have few decorations.
  • Ecology and "current youth values" which de-emphasize material goods will mean homes are sparsely furnished.
  • Showers will replace bathtubs to better conserve water.
  • Computer-programmed delivery of goods will decrease dependence on the family car.
  • The "self-sufficient home" will have its own power source, with all waste being recycled into usable food and household objects.

 

1972 May 4 Oshkosh Daily Northwestern - Oshkosh WI paleofuture

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Sunday
Jan312010

Museum of Extinct Americana (1968)

The January 3, 1968 Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ) ran this cartoon depicting the "Museum of Extinct Americana." Rural Americans and private dwellings were thought to be on their way out.

While more Americans of the year 2000 were living in urban areas, American farmers haven't yet gone the way of the quagga. (This is probably a stupid city-boy question, but how common are pitchforks on farms today?)

The recent housing bubble burst put the hurt on a lot of Americans who own their own home, but this cartoon was likely commenting on population growth and the belief that the United States was at capacity; with Americans of the year 2000 living in increasingly cramped conditions.

I wish the cartoonist had included more artifacts in his museum. Do you suppose he could have guessed that the printed newspaper would be struggling as much as it has the past few years?

MARCH OF TECHNOLOGY -- Many miracles are just around the corner as today's basic research becomes tomorrow's gadgets. But many familiar facets of present-day life will vanish as the year 2000 approaches, as this cartoon illustrates.

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Thursday
Dec242009

DIY Media of the Future (1981)

What we now call user-generated content was predicted in the 1981 book Tomorrow's Home by Neil Ardley. I dare say that this is the most accurate prediction we've looked at in 2009 (provided we ignore that robot arm, offering up delicious Christmas treats before it slaughters the entire family in a bloody rampage). Enjoy!

The caption:

Christmas in the future is an exciting occasion. Here the children have been given a home music and video system that links into the home computer. They are eagerly trying it out. The eldest boy is using the video camera to record pictures of the family, which are showing on the computer viewscreen. However, someone else is playing with the computer controls and changing the images for fun. At the same time, another child is working at the music synthesizer, creating some music to go with the crazy pictures.

Main text:

Have you ever wanted to conduct a huge orchestra, or direct a film? Very few people now get to do these thrilling jobs. However, the techniques of microelectronics are beginning to invade music and the visual arts, making possible all kinds of new and mazing ways of creating music and images. As computers develop, these techniques will begin to enter the home. You'll have the glorious sounds of vast orchestras and the excitement of the movies at your fingertips.

Your orchestra will not be a real one, but an electronic one with sounds created by a synthesizer. On command, the synthesizer's computer will play the music with any sounds you want. Singing is easy too. You can speak the words into the computer, and out will come choirs using your words or maybe even the voice of a famous singer of your choice.

You can make a film electronically too, by using video cameras and recorders. You can record family events, holidays, the world of nature, and even make your own video films with actors.

However, the home computer video system of the future will enable you to make these shows into spectacular entertainments. The computer will be able to take the images you record and assemble and treat them in all kinds of ways to produce a whole range of special effects of your very own. And you will also be able to use the computer to produce unusual moving designs and patterns, rather like making video cartoons or electronic paintings that move. Then you can put your video shows together with your own electronic music, and create the most stunning experiences -- perhaps even a totally new art form of the future!

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Saturday
Dec052009

A Whole World of Metal Men? (1937)

Reading about robots as envisioned in the 1920s and 30s, it is always a question of when robots would replace humans in every facet of life, rather than if. This article from the October 17, 1937 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) paints a pretty bleak picture of the future of humankind. You really need to read the full article to appreciate just how far along this robo-dystopia had been imagined.

But Professor von Schmidt saw the possibility of robots becoming so well-developed mechanically that they will automatically be abel to control each other, and will outlive and perhaps wipe out their creators, man. They may become such perfect "supermen" that will despise their inferior inventors and keep them locked up in reservations and escape-proof prisons until the race dies out.

As terrible and fantastic as all this may sound, thoughtful men in Europe think it is becoming a likelihood with inventions already perfected by science. Indeed, a peep at this world of the future has been given in some extremely interesting pictures, a few of which are shown on this page.

1937 Oct 17 San Antonio Light - San Antonio TX

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Saturday
May302009

Media Room of the Future (1979)

This media room of the future, featured in the 1979 book The Computer Age: A Twenty-Year View, is strikingly similar to the living room of the future we looked at almost two years ago.

Media Room. Homes of the future will have rooms akin to this illustration into which a user can immerse all sensory apparatuses. This particular application is a "Spatial Data Management System," with a fictitious country called Dataland displayed to the user's right. In front appears an item in one particular neighborhood of Dataland. In this example this item is a virtual television for which the user can make animation, with which the user can look at old movies, or through which the user accesses the networks. The user's controls are touch- and pressure-sensitive instrumentation in the arms of an Eames chair.

Previously on Paleo-Future: