Friday, September 28, 2007

Classroom of the Future (Part 3, 1987)

Without further ado, the third and final part of the 1987 concept video, Classroom of the Future.

See also:
Classroom of the Future (Part 1, 1987)
Classroom of the Future (Part 2, 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)

The Disease of the Future (1970)

The August 3, 1970 issue of Time magazine profiles Alvin Toffler and his book Future Shock. An excerpt appears below but you can read the entire article here.
What brings on future shock, according to Toffler, is a rate of social change that has become so fast as to be impossible for most human beings to assimilate. "The malaise, mass neurosis, irrationality and free-floating violence already apparent in contemporary life are merely a foretaste of what may lie ahead unless we come to understand and treat this disease," Toffler argues. "Future shock arises from the superimposition of a new culture on an old one. It is culture shock in one's own society. But its impact is far worse. For most travelers have the comforting knowledge that the culture they left behind will be there to return to. The victim of future shock does not."

See also:
Future Shock (1972)
Future Shock - Electrical Stimulation (1972)
Future Shock - Skin Color (1972)
Future Shock - Babytorium (1972)
Headlines of the Near Future (1972)
Progress to Counter Catastrophe Theory? (1975)
Going Backward into 2000 (1966)
Technology and Man's Future (1972)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pop Culture and the Space Age

Today's New York Times has a very interesting piece about the effect of the Space Age on popular culture.
An effect was much more than simply a spillover from the silvery streamlining of the space program. It was an increasing preoccupation with the future and technology that helped change not only the country’s look in the 1950s and ’60s, but also, in some ways, its very conception of itself, as if seen anew from space.

The architect Buckminster Fuller, one of the space age’s most ardent proselytizers, put it much more coherently in his book “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth”: “We are all astronauts.”

See also:
Outer Space Furniture (1964)
Sincerity and the Paleo-Future
Is Futurism Dead? (New York Times, 1982)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Boy's Flying Machine of the 20th Century (1900)

This image ran in a supplement to the December 29, 1900 Minneapolis Journal called The Journal Junior. The caption reads, "A look to the future: The boy of the present has a glimpse of the twentieth century boy." Minneapolis Journal cartoonist Charles Lewis Bartholomew, better known as Bart, drew it.

My nerd-excitement was off the charts when I found this image. In the lead up to 1901 there were many illustrations (speculating about future technology) which were syndicated in newspapers across the country. Because so many illustrations were re-used in newspapers, it's rare for me to find images of this era that I've never seen before. This illustration, however, was completely new to me and I'm thankful to the Minnesota Historical Society for keeping their microfilm in such great condition.

See also:
Futuristic Air Travel (circa 1900)
In the Twentieth Century (Newark Daily Advocate, 1901)
Going to the Opera in the Year 2000 (1882)
Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900)
Collier's Illustrated Future of 2001 (1901)
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)
French Prints Show the Year 2000 (1910)
The Predictions of a 14-Year-Old (Milwaukee Excelsior, 1901)
More Predictions of a 14-Year-Old (1901)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Libertarian Paleo-Future

Reason magazine has a very interesting article by Katherine Mangu-Ward about the paleo-future. The piece can be found in the October, 2007 issue and an excerpt appears below.
If this is the future, someone forgot to stock it properly. Where are the personal service robots, the moon vacations, the self-contained cities rising out of the smog? What happened to all those sci-fi prophecies? In Where’s My Jetpack? (Bloomsbury), Popular Mechanics columnist Daniel Wilson moans that “it’s the twenty-first century, and things are a little disappointing.” Wilson, the author of How to Survive a Robot Uprising, begs “all the scientists, inventors, and tinkerers out there” to “please hurry up” (emphasis in original).

Wilson shouldn’t be so moony. Fanciful futurist visions can obscure all the neat stuff we’ve accumulated, once-wild innovations that are far cooler and more functional than jetpacks. (Microwave ovens, anyone?) They also make it easy to forget that the ultimate responsibility for choosing which technologies fill our lives lies with us, the ordinary consumers, more than any rocket scientists. Take the titular jetpack. It exists—but no one really wants it. It’s a 125-pound monster with a flight time of 30 seconds, powered by expensive fuel. The dream of individual human flight was realized in 1961, and we haven’t been able to find any use for it outside of Bond movies, the first Super Bowl halftime show, and Ovaltine commercials.

See also:
Where's My Jetpack? (2007)
The Jetsons Car We've Been Waiting For?
Yet Another Flying Car Company

Friday, September 21, 2007

Closer Than We Think! Poor Man's Yacht (1958)

The July 20, 1958 Chicago Tribune ran this Closer Than We Think! strip. Not only will every family of the future have their own yacht, it will be powered by the family car!

The luxury of yachting may be within the reach of almost everyone in the world of tomorrow.

Mass production of low-cost plastic hulls will be made possible by the use of guns that spray the plastic, similar to the "Fiber-Resin Depositor" as conceived by the Rand Development Corporation.

The family car will be used for motive power. When the yachtsman of the future drives his auto into the cradle of his new marine creation the engine will be in place. The rear wheels will rest on a roller linked to the propeller. The driver will put the car in gear, step on the accelerator, and presto - he'll be yachting.

See also:
Closer Than We Think! (1958-1963)
Amphibian Monorail (Popular Science, 1934)

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)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Classroom of the Future (Part 1, 1987)

The 1987 GTE concept video Classroom of the Future demonstrates videophone technology as an essential tool in making people more productive. Sadly, it doesn't seem like kids of the future are any more intelligent. Check out part one of this paleo-futuristic gem.

See also:
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)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Futuristic Hairdo Hits Women Like New Atom Bomb (1948)

As we see over and over again, the abstract concept of "the future" has been sold many different ways over the years. An article from the September 27, 1948 Daily Register (Harrisburg, IL) titled, "Futuristic Hairdo at $35 Per Do Hits Women Like New Atom Bomb," seems to describe post-War hopes and anxieties for the seemingly undefined "future."
Men, the women are at it again. This time it's nothing as mild as demanding the vote or wearing pants.

In a shuddering world, "modernism" has reached the feminine hairline.

From Broadway to Park Avenue, the girls have gone slightly mad over something called "the futuristic, non-objectivism" hairdo. It's in six different colors and at $35 a do.

The creator of this hair-raising hairstyle is a diminutive, red-haired coiffurist who has a booming 200-pound voice in 100-pound frame. His trademark is Mark.

"Women," Mark said with a majestic wave of his thin hands, "need, positively need, to be lifted from the slough of sameness they have fallen into in the past century."

See also:
Fashion Wired for Sound in Year 2000 (1957)
Miss A.D. 2000 (Chicago Tribune, 1952)
Waitress of the Year 2000 (1939)
Evening Fashions of the Year 1952 (1883)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Laser-Holography (1979)

This image appears in the 1979 book Future Cities: Homes and Living into the 21st Century.
The magic of laser-holography, a new technique which creates 3-D pictures apparently out of thin air, could result in business conferences like the one shown above. On the left the heads of a branch office have just come in to their boardroom, first thing in the morning. Across their table is their boss. He is in the head office of the company in the centre of a major city thousands of miles away. It is night-time and is the end of his day. 3-D cameras hanging from the ceilings of each room create the illusion of a [complete] room with the two sides present (this picture has been split down the middle to avoid confusion). Electronic conferences like this would save enormous amounts of time, money and energy.

See also:
Future Cities: Homes and Living into the 21st Century (1979)
Starfire (1994)
3D Copier of the Future (1979)

Friday, September 14, 2007

US West's Flowers by Alice (1992)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

See also:
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (1993)
Writer and Producer of Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future
Apple's Knowledge Navigator (1987)
Apple's Grey Flannel Navigator (1988)
Vision (Clip 1, 1993)
Vision (Clip 2, 1993)
Vision (Clip 3, 1993)

Space Travel To Be Commonplace (1957)

The March 21, 1957 Corpus Christi Times (Corpus Christi, TX) ran a short blurb titled, "Rickenbacker Says Space Travel To Be 'Commonplace.'"
Interplanetary travel will become "commonplace" in the next 50 years, World War I ace Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker predicts.

"In fact," he told an audience of Rotarians yesterday, "space ships in the year 2007 will be semi-self-sustaining planets in themselves."

Rickenbacker, who is now chairman of the board of Easter Airlines, also foresaw the day when "nuclear powered guided missiles will reach speeds up to 25,000 miles an hour."

See also:
The Complete Book of Space Travel (1956)
Man and the Moon (1955)
Mars and Beyond (1957)
Challenge of Outer Space (circa 1950s)
Animal Life on Mars (1957)
Plant Life on Mars (1957)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Credit Card Rings (1964)

The May 24, 1964 New York Times Magazine ran this ad from Sheaffer Pens. Marty Z was kind enough to send this my way, and mentions that it may not be too far off from the microprojectors featured at CES this year.

The text of the ad appears below. Notice the fine print of the ad which tells you to "Ask for your copy of 'What will it be like - the 21st Century?' with descriptions of inventions of the future." I'd love to see that brochure.
Think back to 1964, the year you received that extraordinary gift, your Sheaffer LIFETIME Pen - the year you started enjoying guaranteed writing performance for life.

Right away you liked that 14K gold point - the way it glided over paper, the way it captured your kind of writing. And still does, because inlaying adds strength to this point.

You enjoyed that turned-up tip right from the start, too. It still makes your writing feel more natural. Just as every other feature still delivers the best performance possible - the same performance you admired the first time you touched this amazing point to paper. Can a pen give more than writing pleasure for life?

See also:
Online Shopping (1967)
Prelude to a Great Depression (The Chronicle Telegram, 1929)

Japanese Retail Robots (1986)

Danforth France sent me this great link to a 1986 news report on the future of Japanese retail. The new mantra of paleo-futurists may become, "Where's my personal robot shopper?"

See also:
Online Shopping (1967)
Mobile Malls (1981)
The Robot Rebellion (1982)
Robots: The World of the Future (1979)
Robots Will Be Kings (1949)
Mammy vs Robot (Charleston Gazette, 1937)

Tulsa Time Capsule (1957)

On June 15, 1957 a Plymouth Belvedere was buried in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The car was to serve as a time capsule which would be opened in 2007. Among other things, it was packed with films, a commemorative plate and gasoline (in case the people of 2007 didn't have any to start the car).

The June 8, 1957 Victoria Advocate (Victoria, Texas) ran an article titled, "Oklahoma Really Whooping It Up For 50th Birthday."
In a steel vault, buried on the lawn before the City's modernistic skyscraper courthouse is a 1957 automobile and many another memento of Oklahoma's 50th year.

"Tulsarama!" visitors filled out cards predicting the city's population in 2007. Closest guess will win the car - 50 years from now - along with a $100 trust fund, plus interest. The money will be paid to the heirs of the guesser if he or she is not alive in the centennial year.

In June of 2007 they dug up the car. It was announced that Raymond Humbertson had, in 1957, submitted the guess (384,743) closest to Tulsa's 2007 population (382,457). Time did not treat the car so well, as evidenced by the photo below.

Mr. Humberston died in 1979. According to an AP story, his closest living heirs are two elderly sisters living in Maryland. It's not clear if they'll receive the trust fund money because according to the Tulsa World, it was "set up with Sooner Federal Savings and Loan Association, which was liquidated in the 1990s."

Be sure to check out the Flickr page of Michael Bates, who has some great photos of the unearthing.

See also:
Lost and Stolen Time Capsules
Year 2000 Time Capsule (1958)
General Dynamics Astronautics Time Capsule (1963)
Broken Time Capsule (1963-1997)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Closer Than We Think! Magic Beam Highway (1961)

This Closer Than We Think! strip ran in the October 15, 1961 Chicago Tribune.

The government may soon build an automatic highway, on which drivers can look the other way while electronic controls pilot their cars.

One type of robot road has already been demonstrated by General Motors and RCA. Guidance strips and loops in the pavement receive electric impulses which are picked up electronically by a control box on your car. The impulses regulate direction, speed, braking and obstacle detection - so the car can be guided automatically, without possibility of accident. All you need do is take over when your car gets to the end of the automated section!

A 100-mile test route may be operating by 1964, say Washington reports, and major highway robot systems may be in use by 1975.

See also:
Closer Than We Think! (1958-1963)
Closer Than We Think! Monoline Express (1961)
GM's Three-Wheeled Runabout (1966)
GM Car of the Future (1962)
Automobiles of the Future (1966)
Sports Car of Tomorrow (1966)
Magic Highway, U.S.A. (1958)
The Future World of Transportation

Monday, September 10, 2007

French Prints Show the Year 2000 (1910)

[Update: The Paleo-Future blog has moved. You can read and comment on this entry here.]

Flying Firemen
The 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)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Yet Another Flying Car Company

The IsraGood blog points us to yet another company promising that ever-elusive flying car of the future. Urban Aeronautics claims that they will be producing the "X-Hawk" by early 2009.

It seems like an intelligent business plan to first introduce the vehicle for urban rescue and medical evacuation purposes but, even if it flies, the mass-market hurdles to such transportation options still exist.

See also:
The Jetsons Car We've Been Waiting For?
In 50 Years: Cars Flying Like Missiles! (Chicago Daily Tribune, 1959)
Where's My Jetpack? (2007)
Automobiles Without Wheels (1958)
Flying Car Patent (1991)

Flowers by Alice (Part 4, 1992)

According to part 4 of Flowers by Alice, in the future, all brides are ditzy Valley Girls with neck spasms. Be sure to check out part 6 of the concept video Connections for AT&T's version of wedding planning in the future.

See also:
Flowers by Alice (Part 1, 1992)
Flowers by Alice (Part 2, 1992)
Flowers by Alice (Part 3, 1992)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 6, 1993)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

That 60's Food of the Future

The May 4, 2003 New York Times Magazine ran an interesting piece by Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma. An excerpt appears below. The piece can be read in its entirety at Michael Pollan's own site.

When I was a kid growing up in the early 60's, anybody could have told you exactly what the future of food was going to look like. We'd seen "The Jetsons," toured the 1964 World's Fair, tasted the culinary fruits (or at least fruit flavors) of the space program, and all signs pointed to a single outcome: the meal in a pill, washed down, perhaps, with next-generation Tang.

The general consensus seemed to be that "food"—a word that was already beginning to sound old-fashioned—was destined to break its surly bonds to Nature, float free of agriculture and hitch its future to Technology. If not literally served in a pill, the meal of the future would be fabricated "in the laboratory out of a wide variety of materials," as one contemporary food historian predicted, including not only algae and soybeans but also petrochemicals. Protein would be extracted directly from fuel oil and then "spun and woven into 'animal' muscle—long wrist-thick tubes of 'fillet steak.' "

See also:
Just Imagine (1930)
That Synthetic Food of the Future (Ogden Standard-Examiner, 1926)
Food of the Future (Indiana Progress, 1896)
Delicious Waste Liquids of the Future (1982)
1999 A.D. (1967)
Frigidaire Kitchen of the Future (1957)
The Jetsons "A Date With Jet Screamer" (1962)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Flickr Group: In the Year 2000

The Paleo-Future blog and Boing Boing Gadgets have started a Flickr group called In the Year 2000. As Joel over at BB Gadgets has noted, there is already great interest in the group (211 members so far) along with some great images. I hope to see this community grow because I've already found many images that I've never seen before.

The image above is from 1969 and taken from the Soviet magazine Teknika Molodezhi. Flickrtarian Avi Abrams added it to the group.

See also:
Year 2000 (Tag)