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Entries in picturephone (58)

Saturday
Sep192009

Gernsback Imagines Life 50 Years Hence (1925)

Hugo Gernsback wrote a syndicated piece in 1925 that imagined the world of 1975. It appeared in the February 8th edition of the San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) and has an interesting mix of hits and misses. Highlights from the article are excerpted below. You can read the piece in its entirety here.

Gernsback recognized that the future had the potential to be even more fantastic than we could imagine:

The chances are that if someone runs across this fifty years from now, he will severely condemn the writer of this for his great lack of imagination, for, no matter how wild the predictions may seem now, they will look very tame fifty years hence. If someone had tried to explain radio to you fifty years ago, or the X-ray, or radium, he would have been put down as ripe for the insane asylum, and you may rest assured that we are no different today.

 

On television:

Movies by radio! Why not? You will be able to have a moving picture produced in some central plant and projected in your home, on your yacht, or on your camping trip, the picture being sent by radio, and received and projected upon your screen. All this is perfectly possible.

On teleportation:

By [1975], we shall be able to send all sorts of materials by radio. If you think that it is impossible to transmit a carload of coal thousands of miles, you need only go back less than fifty years, when it would have been thought equally impossible to have the street cars of Syracuse, N.Y., run by the power generated by Niagara Falls. Today no one thinks anything of this.

On personal transportation:

Each pedestrian will roll on electric skates, such as have been constructed even today. An insulated wire running from the skate to the head or shoulder of the skater will be sufficient to take the power from the radio power line, and we shall then all be propelled electrically at a pace at least four or five times as fast as we walk today.

On buildings of the future:

All of our buildings and houses are due for a great revolution. In the Wintertime all of our buildings will be warm, and in the Summertime they will be cool. The future buildings and house will be fashioned along the principle of a thermos bottle. Each wall will be double, and the space between the walls will be filled with cork or some other poor heat conductor.

On airplanes:

The tops of our tallest buildings will be flat and glass-covered. They will have airplane landing platforms on which all kinds of airplanes, or even the trans-Atlantic planes of the future will land.

On hanging gardens:

Our large office buildings, or, for that matter, private houses, will have real gardens with large trees on top of the roofs, as has already been tried experimentally with smaller plants in some of our large cities.

On electrified crops:

Not only that, but plant life will also be greatly stimulated as recent high frequency experiments on plants have shown. Our crops and plants will grow practically two to ten times as quickly and the crops will be more productive under this electrification. Under such stimulation it will be quite possible to raise crops at least twice or perhaps more often during the year; and the most interesting part about this is that it will cost the farmer absolutely nothing except for fertilizer. And this he requires anyway.

On moving sidewalks:

Below the elevated railway we have continuous moving platforms. There will be three such moving platforms alongside of each other. The first platform will move only a few miles per hour, the second at eight or ten miles per hour, and the third at twelve or fifteen miles per hour.

You step upon the slowest moving one from terra firma and move to the faster ones and take your seat. Then arriving at your station, you can either take the lift to the top platform or else you can get off upon the "elevated level" and take the fast train there. which stops only every thirty or forty blocks. Or, if you do not wish this, you can descent by the same elevator down to the local subway.

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Tuesday
Jun302009

One-World Job Market (1959)

The November 29, 1959 edition of Arthur Radebaugh's Closer Than We Think features a job interview of the future. And what job interview of the (paleo)future would be complete without a man from Philadelphia and his entire family chatting via videophone with a potential employer in Buenos Aires?

Until recently, a man limited his job hunting to his home town. Now he sometimes searches the country. Tomorrow's job markets -- and opportunities -- will be world-wide.

Television will make it possible for an employer in Buenos Aires to interview a job seeker in Philadelphia. New Yorker Felix Cuervo has already pioneered in this direction, interviewing applicants for Civil Aeronautics Administration positions over a 2-way closed circuit. Said Cuervo: "Dress, bearing, manner and ability can be gauged over television about as accurately as in personal interviews."

Thanks again to Tom Z. for the color version of this Closer Than We Think panel.

Previously on Paleo-Future

Wednesday
May202009

Videophone "Progress" Newspaper Ad (1976)

The June 30, 1976 Blue Earth Post (Blue Earth, MN) ran this ad for the Blue Earth Valley Telephone Company, in which the videophone is presented as the inevitable next step in telephone technology.


Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Wednesday
Feb252009

The Electronic Home (circa 1988)


Ameritech's (late 1980s) concept video The Electronic Home envisions the futuristic world of HDTV and videophone, as well as internet-like services that allow you to make restaurant reservations (at a cartoonishly stereotypical Italian restaurant), shop for kimonos (because your shirt is made of giant playing cards), or buy a house (with your Atari joystick).

 


This rather primitive, closed-network system is not unlike the one we saw in the 1993 AT&T concept video, Connections. While I wasn't able to find a specific date for this video, it does use footage from the 1987 GTE concept video Classroom of the Future, so we'll call it "circa 1988" until we learn otherwise.

 

I'm not an expert on telecommunications law or history, so I can't give the necessary background information to understand Ameritech's motives in this video. But it's pretty clear this video was intended to influence people in power to let Ameritech (now AT&T Midwest) establish a communications network it didn't feel it was able to provide at the time. In other words, look it up and get back to me. I'm talking to you, media-tech nerds!

Previously on Paleo-Future:
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (1993)
GTE's Classroom of the Future (1987)
Motorola's 2000 A.D. (1990)
Pacific Bell Concept Video (1991)
Flowers by Alice (1992)
Apple's Knowledge Navigator (1987)
Apple's Grey Flannel Navigator (1988)
Vision (Clip 1, 1993)
Vision (Clip 2, 1993)
Vision (Clip 3, 1993)
Starfire (1994)

Tuesday
Jun102008

Real Picturephone? (1939)


This (most likely doctored) photo of a picturephone in 1939 or 1940 is featured in the book Exit to Tomorrow: World's Fair Architecture, Design, Fashion 1933-2005.

The weird thing is that I haven't been able to verify the authenticity of this photo outside of this book. In fact, it is rare to find mention of a working picturephone, with any degree of specificity, pre-1955. Anyone who might be able to shine a light on this is encouraged to educate us all. The caption to the photo appears below.

Charles F. Kettering, General Motors vice president in charge of research, appeared on the screen in the first demonstration of what might be termed the "television-telephone." By means of this equipment, which was the first of its kind ever operated in this country, Ernest L. Foss could see the person to whom he was talking. The apparatus was displayed at the formal opening of the Previews of Progress, General Motors Research's stage show at the fair.


See also:
Tomorrow's TV-Phone (1956)
Television Phone Unveiled (1955)
Futuristic Phone Booth (1958)
Governor Knight and the Videophone (Oakland Tribune, 1955)
Face-to-Face Telephones on the Way (New York Times, 1968)
Picturephone as the perpetual technology of the future
The Future is Now (1955)
Discovering the Videophone (1970)
A Ballad for the Fair (1964)

 

Thursday
Apr032008

"Broadband" by Australia Telecom (1992)

Wednesday
Mar192008

Australia Telecom's Broadband (Part 3, 1992)


Today we have the third and final installment of the 1992 Australia Telecom concept video, Broadband. Enjoy.

 


 

See also:
Australia Telecom's Broadband (Part 1, 1992)
Australia Telecom's Broadband (Part 2, 1992)