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Entries in television (29)

Tuesday
Jun142011

Garco on Juke Box Jury (1954)

Garco the robot became Garco the music critic for the May 29, 1954 episode of Los Angeles TV's Juke Box Jury. Hosted by Peter Potter, the show appeared on KNXT (now KCBS) and featured a panel of celebrity judges who would critique the latest music releases. On this particular episode Garco appeared with Ann Robinson, Tab Hunter, Bea Benaderet, Gil Stratton, and Virginia Grey.

Asmiov only knows what Garco said during the episode, but the snippet that ran in the LA Times about Garco's appearance that night is below. 

I thought Peter Potter had flipped his lid when he called to say he had a robot on his Juke Box Jury panel tonight at 10:30, KNXT (2). But the more I think of it, the saner the idea sounds.

This robot is called "Mr. Garco." Actually, he's plugging a flicker which stars another robot. But Pete won't have to furnish him with too much orange juice, he probably won't be making passes at pretty Hostess Sue Alexander and he might come up with some out-of-this-world opinions of the records Pete will play.

Who knows, he might even bring a couple of flying discs for Pete to spin. He'll have help from such mortals as Ann Robinson, Tab Hunter, Bea Benadaret, Gil Stratton and Virginia Grey. They best be on their toes or Mr. Garco will.

 

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
Mar272011

Ebert's Art Film Revolution (1987)

OMNI magazine interviewed Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert about the future of movies for their June, 1987 issue. Ebert makes some bold and accurate predictions about how a revolution in the delivery and distribution of movies will open up the "art film" market, allowing people greater access to movies that may not make financial sense to screen in the theaters of smaller cities. An excerpt from the interview appears below.

OMNI: How will the fierce competition between television and the movies work out in the future?

EBERT: We will have high-definition, wide-screen television sets and a push-button dialing system to order the movie you want at the time you want it. You'll not go to a video store but instead order a movie on demand and then pay for it. Videocassette tapes as we know them now will be obsolete both for showing prerecorded movies and for recording movies. People will record films on 8mm and will play them back using laser-disk/CD technology.

I also am very, very excited by the fact that before long, alternative films will penetrate the entire country. Today seventy-five percent of the gross from a typical art film in America comes from as few as six --six-- different theaters in six different cities. Ninety percent of the American motion-picture marketplace never shows art films. With this revolution in delivery and distribution, anyone, in any size town or hamlet, will see the movies he or she wants to see. It will be the same as it's always been with books. You can be a hermit and still read any author you choose.

Later in the interview Ebert says that "by the year 2000 or so, a motion picture will cost as much money as it now costs to publish a book or make a phonograph album." Ebert was right, but it wasn't just film production and distribution costs that came down. With the rise of book self-publishing with sites like Lulu, the democratization of online music distribution with CD Baby, and the fact that I just can't keep up with the staggering volume of "puppy tries to roll over but can't OMG how adorable" videos, the internet really has fundamentally shaken up the media landscape.

 

Monday
Feb072011

Tesla Predicts the Portable TV (1926)

In 1926 Nicola Tesla gave an interview to Collier's Weekly in which he predicted something that sounds remarkably like portable television. Perhaps most interestingly, he mentions that this technology would be used to watch war unfold, "just as though we were present."

NEW YORK, Jan 25 - (AP) - Application of radio principles will enable people by carrying a small instrument in their pockets to see distant events like the sorceress of the magic crystal fairy tales and legends, Nikola Tesla, electrical inventor, predicted today. Mr. Tesla, who on several occasion has tried to communicate with the planet Mars, made his predictions in an interview published in the current issue of Collier's Weekly.

"We shall be able to witness the inauguration of a president, the playing of a world's series baseball game, the havoc of an earthquake, or a battle just as though we were present," Mr. Tesla said.

I'm fascinated by the rise of the moving image during the first half of the 20th century. In the 1920's Thomas Edison was predicting that movies would replace textbooks, D.W. Griffith predicted that motion pictures would overtake the printed word, and Cecille B. Demille said that as the cost of camera equipment came down home movies would soon be produced by average Americans.

Every generation believes that they live in a special age of technological progress, but it is quite humbling to read about the rise of electricity, motion pictures, radio or television and trying to imagine what it must have been like to experience those things for the first time. Without belittling the accomplishments and enormous potential of the internet, I dare say those things were more jaw-dropping than the first time I popped in an AOL CD-ROM.

 

Article source: January 26, 1926 Nevada State Journal

Photo of Nicola Tesla: Library of Congress

 

Previously on Paleofuture: 

 

Friday
Jan282011

Watching Television With My Robot Butler (1932)

The December 4, 1932 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) ran this illustration accompanying a piece titled, "Looking Ahead Another 50 Years." 

TELEVISION -- The husband at home in bed is able to sweep the mechanical eye through the shopping district and see what his wife is doing. He also has all sorts of appliances for supplying almost anything he needs, including a robot valet, who is seen approaching with his master's suit of clothes.

Early visions of television often imagined live broadcasting without any narrative arc, like from this 1930's collectible card that we looked at a few months back.

Previously on Paleofuture:

Monday
Nov222010

This Age of Power and Wonder (1930s)

Companies of the early 20th century would often include collectible cards with their foodstuffs and tobacco smokes. The New York Public Library has an extensive collection of these cigarette cards available for viewing online, including many from a series by Max Cigarettes called This Age of Power and Wonder. This series from 1935-38 includes predictions of robot servants, spaceships, live television from exotic locations, and ubiquitous airports atop city high rises. Somewhat ironically for a cigarette manufacturer, card number six in this series of 250 predicted great advances in the treatment of cancer.

 

Wells Forecasts Space-Ships

 Television of the Future

Our Future Servants?

How London May Be Lighted

 The Amphibian At Work

 Atomic Fuel

Aerodrome of the Future

War on Cancer

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Saturday
Oct162010

1975 and the Changes to Come (1962)

TV of the future

Meat Puppets drummer Derrick Bostrom has a wonderful Flickr set of images from the 1962 book, 1975: And the Changes to Come by Arnold B. Barach. While some of the products like this bacon toaster would be well suited for a 1960's version of Sky Mall magazine, others were practical visions of technologies that were just around the corner, such as the pacemaker.

Beach house of the future

Previously on Paleo-Future: