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Entries in pre-internet (9)

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:

 

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)

Wednesday
Apr022008

Computer Games of the Future (1981)


This holographic computer game of the future is from the 1981 book Tomorrow's Home by Neil Ardley.

The caption explains, "A home computer game of the future has solid images of spaceships that move in midair. These are holographic images produced by laser beams. The game is played with other people who also sit at their home computers and see the same images. Each player controls a ship and tries to destroy the other ships. Guess which player is winning!"

The entire text of this two-page spread appears below.

Your day in the future continues. It's not a school day, so you can do whatever you like. However, it's raining, so you can't play outside. Although scientists can now control the weather, this is done only in certain places to produce artificial climates that aid farming. Your home is not one of these places.

 

Even though everyone is busy and you're stuck at home on your own, you're still going to have an exciting and interesting day. After breakfast, you rush on to the living room. It has chairs and other furniture in new designs as well as some antiques like a twentieth-century digital clock and a push-button telephone. However, the room is dominated by a large viewscreen linked to the home computer.

You ask the computer to contact several friends, and they begin to appear on the screen. Soon you're linked into a worldwide group of people, all of whom can talk to and see each other. After chatting for a while, you decide to play some games together. As you can't agree on what to play, the computer makes up your minds for you. It gives you puzzles to do and devises quizzes, as well as all kinds of electronic games. The computer keeps the scores as you play against one another, and then it gives you games in which you all play the computer. You carry on until someone loses interest and tries to cheat for fun. The computer finds out and everyone laughs. Then it's time to break up the party and have lunch.

After lunch you decide to spend some time on your own at a hobby or craft you particularly enjoy. Making things of all kinds is easy with the computer. You design them on the screen of the terminal in your playroom, and then the computer operates a machine that constructs the objects in materials such as plastics. This system is very good for making your own clothes. You can dress up in all kinds of fantastic garments that you design yourself. To avoid waste, the objects and clothes can be fed back into the machine and the materials recycled or used again.


See also:
Future Arcade Games (1985)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 3, 1993)
Virtual Reality (1980s-today)
Homework in the Future (1981)
Home Entertainment of the Future (1981)
Learning in 1999 A.D. (1967)

 

Thursday
Feb072008

Home Entertainment of the Future (1981)


This image from the book Tomorrow's Home (World of Tomorrow) by Neil Ardley illustrates the home entertainment system of tomorrow.

This section's most interesting prediction may be that, "the magazines, books, records, tapes and television sets we now have will begin to disappear. But in their place the computer will offer us a greater range of entertainment."

The two page spread's text appears below in its entirety.

Look at this play of the future - a performance of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar by famous actors in your very own living room! Even more amazing, you play the title role yourself. The play has just reached the point where Caesar is killed.

 

All this could come about with developments in holographic video - a system that uses laser beams to produce images that have depth just as in real life. Once perfected, it will produce a show that takes place not on a screen but in real space - even around you. You could walk in and out of the action, and view it from any direction - the ultimate in realism. In this case, the computer that operates the system has been instructed to omit the role of Julius Caesar so as to allow you to take part. Although the images look so real, you could walk through them, so you suffer no harm from your killers' knives.

Such developments may lie far in the future, but there's no doubt that the computer is going to affect home entertainment soon. The magazines, books, records, tapes and television sets we now have will begin to disappear. But in their place the computer will offer us a greater range of entertainment.

The home computer will be linked to a radio dish on your roof. A satellite or radio mast feeds it with many television channels; on the viewscreen of the computer, you can sit and watch the news or sport in several other countries as well as your own. The radio dish or telephone wires also link your home to computer complexes that feed it with all kinds of recorded entertainment - films, television shows you have missed, video magazines and news. Music comes through the computer too, playing whatever you want and whenever with a quality far beyond today's records and tapes. If you want to read something on your own, a portable screen linked to the computer displays any story of your choice.


See also:
Movie Trends of the 21st Century (1982)
Living Room of the Future (1979)
Thinks We'll Do Our Reading on Screen (1923)
Learning in 1999 A.D. (1967)
Tomorrow's TV-Phone (1956)
Closer Than We Think: Headphone TV (1960)

 

Tuesday
Oct092007

GTE's Classroom of the Future (1987)


GTE's 1987 concept video Classroom of the Future envisions a bright future for voice synthesis, speech recognition and insanely small monitors. Will's acting career, however, holds less promise.

Part 1



Part 2



Part 3


 

See also:
Classroom of the Future (Part 1, 1987)
Classroom of the Future (Part 2, 1987)
Classroom of the Future (Part 3, 1987)
Homework in the Future (1981)
The Answer Machine (1964)
The Road Ahead: Future Classroom (1995)
Closer Than We Think! (1958-1963)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 7, 1993)

Friday
Jul272007

Electronic Shopping (1983)

Terry R. Hiller wrote an article titled "Going Shopping in the 1990s" for the December, 1983 issue of The Futurist magazine. Mr. Hiller was understandably skeptical of the prospect of electronic shopping. However, many of the things he asserted would not come to pass did indeed happen.

An excerpt appears below, along with graphics from the piece.


Nor is electronic retailing equipped to deal with the logistics of delivery. Product information, selection, and billing can all be transmitted electronically, but physical merchandise must be physically moved. Today's mail-order houses depend on federal or private package delivery, services that are simply not structured for the huge traffic increases that large-scale teleshopping would generate. It would require not only the total restructuring of existing routes and systems, but an investment of billions of dollars in equipment and personnel - resources we are simply unable to spare either now or in the foreseeable future.

Furthermore, since teleshoppers can only view products piecemeal, electronic marketing has severe drawbacks as a retailing device. In nine square feet of drugstore shelf space, you might easily encounter as many as 80 or more different brands and sizes of cold remedies. But in electronic marketing, shelf space is defined as time- the number of second an item appears on the screen. Allowing even 10 seconds per item, it would take more than 13 minutes to show that same 80 items. Add to this the cost of production, handling, and shipping, and we begin to suspect that the "convenience" of electronic marketing will be very expensive. Unless we are prepared to sacrifice variety - and therefore competition - some products will never be purchased "in absentia."


See also:
Online Shopping (1967)
Mobile Malls (1981)

Wednesday
May302007

Closer Than We Think! Lunar Mailbag (1960)


This Closer Than We Think! strip ran in the December 25, 1960 Chicago Tribune.

Chistmas cards of the future may be transmitted electronically. The post office is studying the use of space technology for quick movement of endless quantities of mail between widely separated points.

 

To do this, microwave stations would be set up. Envelopes would be opened mechanically, and the automatic "fingers" would remove the contents and expose them to a scanner. Impulses from the card or letter might be beamed to a postal satellite or even the moon, bounced back to the destination point, reproduced there in the original printing or handwriting, sealed in a capsule and delivered. All this might be done minutes from the time the communication first arrived at a post office thousands of miles away.

See also:
Closer Than We Think! (1958-1963)
Closer Than We Think! Monoline Express