Monday, December 22, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Everyman's Folding Auto (1939)

The November 26, 1939 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) featured this prediction of the fold-up car of the future.
Even the young man of the scientific future may find trouble, one day on the road, with his sunpower automobile. He gets out, tips up the car with one hand and looks underneath. Finding what seems to be the trouble, he unscrews a few clamps, takes out the engine, and starts off jauntily to the repair shop, as though he were only carrying an alarm clock.

Strong muscles? Not at all, merely a lightweight engine.

Next day he comes back for the engineless car, folds it up like a collapsible baby carriage, loads it on the most convenient high speed bus or aero bus, takes it home and tucks it away in any handy closet until the engine has been repaired.

These are not Professor Harrison's predictions, but they are made possible by one of his, that of stronger metals.

What requires so much weight in automobile engines or bodies, in giant bridges, in the steel frames of buildings and a thousand other things is that much metal must he used to make the beams or castings strong. Weight Itself is useless. Need is only for strength.

"Great strides have been made recently," Professor Harrison writes, "in the physics of metals—the study of how atoms cling together to form crystals and these crystals hang together in metal rods and wires. All metals are permeated by microscopic cracks and flaws which greatly reduce their strength.

"If only Ihe crystals of which they are composed would hang to one another with the forces with which the individual atoms cling together! Then a cable of steel an inch thick would safely support four million pounds, instead of the mere 300,000 pounds which it now will held."

Such metals 13 times stronger than now can mean not only lighter engines and folding, fly-weight auto bodies, but also taller buildings, longer bridges, faster airplanes, larger ships--or deadlier machine guns and farther-ranging submarines.

Previously on Paleo-Future:
Dymaxion Car of the Future (1934)
Streamlined Cars of the Future
Zipper-Bag Airplane (1958)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Exploring Space (1958)

While The Complete Book of Space Travel was aimed at teen and pre-teen boys, the 1958 book Exploring Space was looking for a younger audience (still of boys, mind you, since we all know that lady-parts get confused with all that science and math).

Below are sample pages from the book, including one that some little tyke got after with a brown crayon.

While some scientists are trying to find out how to land rockets safely, others are learning what kinds of suits space travelers will need. They pump air out of a room, so it is like space. Men who are inside wear space suits to test them. The men breathe through a hose connected to an oxygen tank.
Next a man may test a space suit in a three-stage rocket. Perhaps he will pilot stage three after it breaks away and speeds into space. He will go too fast to feel the pull of gravity. His body will lose all its weight. He will float around the cabin, if he isn't strapped in place. Will the first space traveler like the ride? When he lands, he will tell us.
Other men will follow the first space traveler into space. They will test bigger and bigger rockets. And so scientists will learn how to build great big rocket ships. These ships will fly around the world in an hour.
In time, scientists will know how to build rocket ships that can carry people to the moon. After the moon, what next? Perhaps people will visit other worlds in the sky.
Perhaps when you are grown-up, rockets will be as common as airplanes are now. Then you and all your friends will be space travelers. Rockets away!

Previously on Paleo-Future:
Closer Than We Think! Space Coveralls (1960)
The Complete Book of Space Travel (1956)
Challenge of Outer Space (circa 1950s)
Man and the Moon (1955)
Space Suit (1956)
Rocket Ship (1956)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Game Parlor of the Future (1982)

This two-page spread from a 1982 issue of Electronic Games magazine is pretty spot on with many of its predictions. However, being "chained to the family TV set" isn't such a big deal when Little Johnny Future now plays on a 72-inch monster TV. Thanks to Paul H. for sending this article my way.
The world of electronic gaming moves fast. The manufacturers regard any year that does not boast at least five major technological breakthroughs as a fallow twelve months. This time-lapse perspective makes foreseeing the future a particularly chancy business - predicting events weeks ahead can be perilous, crystal-balling the hobby as it will exist in the next century is like walking, unarmed into a dragon's lair. You might sneak out with the treasure, after all, but chances are you'll be incinerated.

Keeping all this firmly in mind, the fact is that the calendar on the wall reads "1982." We sit a little more than a year away from the day when George Orwell envisioned gigantic TV monitors in every home and on every street corner. Big Brother, he feared, would be watching us very closely.

Actually, Orwell's vision was somewhat clouded. What he though were images of fascistic governmental overlords were, in fact, great big videogames! Those big-screen TV's arrived ahead of schedule, you see, so instead of using them to supress [sic] freedom, people decided to play games on them.

Still, even 1984 is a good distance from 2001. Yet in researching the future of electronic gaming, certain fascinating bits of information and conjecture keep turning up again and again. Sitting down to put the puzzle together, at least a small portion of the future became clear. The smoke in the crystal ball began to dissipate and here's what we saw:

Obviously computers will play a major role in the arcader's future. Some of them will be so specialized that they will realistically draw the player right into the contest. The computers will provide total sensory output: audio, visual, olfactory (smell), and tactile (touch). Systems can already be manipulated by voice commands, and even some home videogames are chatting happily back at us as well. Interactive fiction should continue to do well, as will role-playing games that involve the arcader in ever more personal ways (such as Prisoner and Network). Players will be able to assume the role of a detective, questioning the suspects in a murder case with full audio/visual accompaniment.

Graphics are the fastest growing area of game design in less than a decade. Technology has jumped from Pong to Zaxxon, with Atari and other coin-op companies reportedly testing three-dimensional games in Europe.

Look for arcades to be constructed along the lines of big-budget science fiction movie sets, with special effects a major attraction of the games. For example, there might be chairs that rock back and forth, swing from side to side or swivel a full 360 degrees.

"Gaming and interacting with machines is an appetite the public has only recently discovered," points out Tom Lopez of Activision. "With our fast-progressing technology, one constantly updating and improving upon itself, the boundaries that confine most games will become limitless. The computer will soon become a daily tool used by everyone. As microprocessors and transistors become more refined and are, in turn, mass-produced, prices will drop. Computers continue to offer more capacity for less money. It will be cheaper - and more stimulating - to play computer games than to pay to be entertained at clubs or concerts, or in packed sports arenas."

Since arcade games have the distinction of being designed for the purpose of executing one, specific program, they should be able to maintain an edge over home computers. The pay-for-play devices also utilize special monitors, that incorporate groundbreaking scanning technology, while home games remain chained to the family TV set.

The arcade games of the next century may not only be activated by voice command, but conceivably even by thought - at least in a sense. Something akin to galvanic skin-monitoring devices attached to the gamer's arm, perhaps in the form of a bracelet, could measure emotional response and even act as a triggering device.

In terms of futuristic audio, tomorrow's coin-ops - that is, if there still are such prehistoric items as coins still in use - will have miniature synthesizers to produce more highly defined sounds. There might even be devices to release pertinent smells at appropriate moments - the smell of gunfire for example. Such a machine could even blast the gamer with sound via headphones. Think about that for a second. Can you imagine the ambiance of a silent arcade? Now that would take some getting used to.

Visually, an expanded screen could project pictures all around the player. Special effect would be attained, with shutter lenses that use a liquid crystal diffusion process, in which a cathode ray delivers one picture after another in synchronized fashion, so fast and so frequently that it generates a convincing illusion of movement.

Picture this scenario: You are absorbed in a game of the future, seated within a totally enclosed environment. Images of shattering explosions, comets and asteroids whirl by as your seat shudders from the concussion. An asteroid passes so close you could almost etch your initials in its craggy surface. Over your headphones, meanwhile, your squad leader is passing on commands from headquarters. You have only split seconds to react, the results of an intergalactic battle hangs in the balance.

"When the games become transparent to the viewer, it will be so realistic, you'll feel you were there. Then the form of the game itself will disappear - as if it melted - and you will forget you're playing a game," predicts Lopez.

"We're rapidly reaching the point," concedes one computer expert, "where technology is outstripping our ability to use it." The ability of the computers man has constructed begin to awe us with their blinding growth. The ultimate solution to this problem may be the development of team-designing as a way of life in the arcade industry of tomorrow.

In the early days of videogames, a single individual created each program from conception to execution - everything but painting the title on the cabinet in some cases. As the sophistication of the industry grows, companies like Midway are setting up design teams, composed of people who specialize in each area of game invention. Some 16 creative artists and programmers combined talents to produce the marvelous Tron coin-op, with graphic concepts, audio effects and cabinet design handled by separate individuals under the supervision of a single manager.

George Gomez, head of the Midway in-house research and development group agrees that teamwork is the key to future game design. "It's too hard to find any one, or any two or three people with sufficient expertise in all the areas necessary to create a modern arcade game. We feel that areas such as cabinet and joystick design are vital elements in a game's success or failure."

Whether or not we'll see these innovations in the next century, the next decade or, perhaps, never, depends on the direction in which this wildly unpredictable business moves in the time ahead. But one thing does seem certain - electronic gaming will never die.

"People need sensory interface," as Tom Lopez puts it, "and electronic gaming gives that to people. More to the point, it's fun! Gaming is entertainment and it's here to stay!"

Even in the year 2001.

Read more:
Future Arcade Games (1985)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 3, 1993)
Computer Games of the Future (1981)
Virtual Reality (1980s-today)
Home Entertainment of the Future (1981)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Jetpack Dreams

I haven't yet read Mac Montandon's book Jetpack Dreams, but thanks to this video it's made its way to the top of my book heap.

Jetpack Dreams Trailer from Mac Montandon on Vimeo.

Read more:
Disneyland Jetpack (1966)
10,000 Years From Now (1922)
Jet Pack Video (1966)
Bell Aviation's Rocket Pack (1964)
Jet Flying Belt is Devised to Carry Man for Miles (New York Times, 1968)
Where's My Jetpack? (2007)
How Do You Like Them Apples?

Tomorrow's Kitchen (1943)

The July 16, 1943 Morning Herald (Uniontown, PA) ran this piece about the kitchen of the future, complete with built-in pots and pans. The kitchen was designed by the Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass company, which may be the same company that imagined the glass house of the year 2008.

A special thanks to Warren for pointing me in the direction of these photos from Life magazine, which inspired me to track down this story. The photo featured at the top of the piece comes from the newspaper article. The rest of the photos are from Life.

It's interesting to compare this vision of the future kitchen with that of 1967. Both are messages from companies wishing to sell a lifestyle of post-war consumerism as much as the products themselves, it seems.

TOLEDO, O. - The "Kitchen of Tomorrow" that does everything but put out the cat at night now makes its debut.

It eliminates pots and pans.

It does away with stooping and squatting.

Sore feet will be only a memory of the sad past—because in this kitchen three-quarters of the "little woman's" work can be done while comfortably seated.

Dishwashing becomes a pleasure and burnt fingers practically impossible to acquire.

And, in the vernacular—that is not the half of it!

Between meal times and without the help of a magic wand the kitchen can almost instantly be transformed into a gaily-decorated play-room for the children.

In the evening, it changes into a buffet bar.

With a minimum of effort it converts to extra living space—with all of the familiar kitchen '"gadgets" and appliances buried from sight.

Designed by the Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Company to help point the way toward more practical and gracious living in the post-war era, the kitchen has an "all this and heaven, too" theme developed by the use of easily obtained and familiar materials worked into new shapes and forms.

Sliding panels cover the sink, cooking unit and automatic food mixer, so when not in use these units become part of a long buffet—ready for use as a study bench for the children or a bar for dad.

An "out of this world" refrigerator of glass construction has four times the capacity of today's model. Built on the principle of the cold storage locker, it is separated into compartments, each with an individual temperature control. One compartment shelf revolves—so that salads and often-used foods can be placed in it from the kitchen side and removed from the adjoining dining alcove.

The oven has a sliding, heat-tempered glass hood. When the roast is revolving on the motor-driven spit mother can look at it from all angles—and without opening the oven door as of old.

Most of the cooking is done in evolutionary unit one-third the size of the average stove and with built-in pots and pans which double as serving dishes.

All of the kitchen equipment has been raised to an easy working level and the space ordinarily cluttered with storage bins and cabinets has been left free to provide room for the housewife's knees.

Storage cabinets gain a new grace by being hung on the wall and equipped with sliding glass doors-no bumped heads!

And not overlooking a thing, H. Creston Doner, designer of the kitchen, turned out a model dining alcove, as a "running mate" for the kitchen. He pointed out that, other than making the ideas of his department available to other designers and manufacturers, his firm's sole interest is to demonstrate some of the decorative and utilitarian advantages of glass.

So that it, too, may be used for extra living space, the dining room sports a plate glass-topped table that folds back against the wall and becomes a mural-—the folding legs forming a frame to the sand-blasted design in the glass.

Read more:
The Future of Glass (1958)
1999 A.D. (1967)
Frigidaire Kitchen of the Future (1957)
Monsanto House of the Future Brochure (1961)
How Experts Think We'll Live in 2000 A.D. (1950)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957)
House of the Future for the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition (1956)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Robot Christmas (1958)

Well Medicated recently compiled a number of paleo-futuristic images (mostly stolen from the always-excellent blog Modern Mechanix), including this one from the December, 1958 issue of Popular Electronics magazine. The robot family of the future sure is adorable, putting up their Christmas tree and all. If you recall, Parade magazine had a more terrifying depiction of the robo-dog of the future back in 1959.

If you love this style of robot, might I recommend the tremendous artwork of Eric Joyner? A delight for all robots, big and small.

A special thanks to BoingBoing and Jeremy for the heads up on this robo-family find.

Read more:
Santa's Reindeer Out of Work (1900)
Will robots make people obsolete? (1959)
Closer Than We Think! Robot Housemaid (1959)
Call a Serviceman (Chicago Tribune, 1959)
The Electronic Brain Made Beef Stew (1959)
Something must be wrong with its radar eye! (Chicago Tribune, 1959)
How Experts Think We'll Live in 2000 A.D. (1950)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Airplanes of Future Will Travel 1,000 MPH (1939)

The January 29, 1939 Hammond Times (Hammond, IN) ran this piece about the super-fast airplanes of the future. The article quickly devolves into a debate about how trustworthy air speed indicators are.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 -- Airplanes capable of flying nearly 1,000 miles an hour - 300 miles an hour faster than the speed of sound - will be developed "within a generation," federal aviation engineers confidently predicted today.

This prediction, carrying with it tremendous military and commercial implications, was made while the same engineers were expressing "some doubt" that the plane flown in a test dive last Monday at Buffalo, N.Y., actually reached the reported speed of 575 miles an hour.

A spokesman for the national advisory committee for aeronautics, which conducts government aviation research at its vast Langley Field, Va., laboratories, said that while NACA tests thus far have not developed speeds on assembled models of above 500 miles an hour, there is no incontrovertible reason to believe that a modern airplane can not attain a 575-mile-an-hour clip.

"The basis on which we entertain doubt regarding the 575-mile-an-hour speed at Buffalo is simply this: The air speed indicator in the planes showed 575 miles an hour, but it has been established that air speed indicators cannot be trusted too far," he explained. "In order to have been accurate, the indicator in the plane flown at Buffalo should have been adjusted at different levels on the way down during the dive. That, of course, was impossible."

Read more:
600 Miles An Hour (1901)
The Family Plane of 2030 A.D. (1930)
Cyclonic Rocket (circa 1930)
Aerial Navigation Will Never Be Popular (1906)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Vacation at a Space Hotel (1982)

The The Kids' Whole Future Catalog really is a treasure trove of 1980's futurism. Today we have a letter from Jenny, writing her friend Susan about the amazing space hotel she's visiting in the year 2002. Having graduated high school in the year 2002, I'm a little disappointed that my graduation ceremony wasn't held at a space hotel, complete with space pool and the accompanying physics that go along with that.
April 16, 2002

Dear Susan,

We arrived at the space hotel yesterday, and the first thing I did was try out the swimming pool. It really is as much fun as everyone says, but the low gravity takes getting used to. Everything happens more slowly than usual - you feel as though you're part of a movie that's being show in slow motion. When you jump off the diving board, you can easily do two or three somersaults before you hit the water - and when you do go in, you leave a hole which takes a few seconds to fill up. The pool doesn't look anything like the ones on Earth. It's like an enormous barrel with water lining the inside. The barrel rotates very slowly, creating just enough force to keep the water pushed up against the sides. When you're in the pool, you can see water curving uphill and people swimming upside down overhead. As if that isn't strange enough, you can also see people floating through the air in the zero-g area at the center of the barrel. To get there, all you have to do is jump high off the diving board and flap your arms like wings. If you hold a paddle in each hand, it's easier to steer. I want to tell you about all the other things I've done, but there isn't time. I'll write again tomorrow.

Love, Jenny

Read more:
Vacations of the Future (1981)
Moon Tourism (1988)
Welcome to Moonbase (1987)
The Kids' Whole Future Catalog (1982)
Factories in Space (1982)
New Worlds to Radically Alter (1981)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Moving Pictures to Show Schoolboys of 1995 Our Time (1920)

The March 18, 1920 Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA) declared that movies would help future generations better understand the past. This piece has striking similarities to 1920's predictions of movies replacing textbooks. The piece is also interesting to read side-by-side with "Big Laughs Coming" from the Modesto Evening News in 1922.
Every moving picture is a contribution, for the benefit of posterity, to the history of our time, its manners, its customs, its thoughts, its virtues and its follies.

To the schoolboy of the year 1995 history will not merely be something to be memorized out of books. It will be visualized and made real for him by the moving pictures that are being made now. The people of our time will not be mere history book ghosts to this boy but living creatures who smile at him and walk and play and love and hate and work and eat.

If only we had today moving pictures of the times of Washington and Lincoln! Imagine a Fourth of July celebration with moving pictures of the signing of the Declaration!

The historical value of moving picture plays will be as great as that of movies of current events. The 1920 photoplay exhibited in the year 1995 will serve as an exposition of the social life and manners of this period.

And, despite its faults, the present generation will make a fairly good showing when it appears in the movies before posterity in 1995 and thereabouts. The schoolboys of that time may laugh at some of the ways of their ancestors, but, in the main, they will agree that they were a pretty good sort at that.

Read more:
Movies Will Replace Texbooks (1922)
Thinks We'll Do Our Reading On Screen (1923)
Movie Theater of the Future (1930)
Movies to be Produced in Every Home (1925)
Big Laughs Coming (1922)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

French Flying Machines (1890-1900)

These French cards, archived at the Library of Congress, were produced sometime between 1890 and 1900. Most of the cards illustrate important feats from ballooning history between 1795-1846, while card number two (pictured above) depicts futuristic visions of flight from the 1800s. It's striking how similar these imagined flying machines are to those we looked at from 1885.

The Paleo-Future Store features button sets of those paleo-futuristic flying machines from 1885, which you can check out here.
Les utopies de la navigation aérienne au siècle dernier

Read more:
Flying Machines (circa 1885)
French Prints Show the Year 2000 (1910)
Boy's Flying Machine of the 20th Century (1900)
Futuristic Air Travel (circa 1900)
Going to the Opera in the Year 2000 (1882)
Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Cashless Future Society? (1968)

The July 24, 1968 Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, NM) ran this piece by Jack Lefler about the possibility of a cashless society that would use a single identification card.
NEW YORK (AP) - Want to hunt polar bear in Alaska, entertain your mother-in-law at a Paris restaurant, rent a house-boat for a Mississippi cruise, hire a big-name orchestra for your daughter's wedding reception—and charge it?

All you need is a credit card.

These are some of the more bizarre ways you can use a credit card but their purchasing power covers the whole gamut of goods and services.

It's estimated that Americans are carrying 200 million credit cards and using them to spend around $50 billion a year.

As a result of the proliferation of credit cards, there has been widespread speculation about the possibilities of a checkless, cashless society in the future.

Some bankers envision nationwide system In which a single identification card would be used in place of all checks and almost all cash.

But American Express, a big name in the credit card industry, says, "The single-card system couldn't be further from reality today. The most striking feature of our present system of transferring money is the multiplicity of credit cards."

Credit cards as we know them today were pioneered in 1950 by Diners' Club, which was created with 200 members, an initial investment of $18,000 and a handful ot restaurants In the New York City area. Within a year it had grown to 10,000 members who could charge at more than 1,000 establishments.

Credit cards now fall into three categories:

—Travel and entertainment. Operators in this field are American Express, Diners' Club and Carte Blanche. These cards are held primarily by business and professional men.

—Private label. Oil companies, airlines, hotels, car rental companies and department stores offer these cards primarily to promote their services or products.

—Revolving credit cards. These cards, largely regional or local in nature, are issued mainly by banks and financial organizations and are meant primarily for use by housewives for shopping.

The credit card companies derive their revenue from discounts from establishments which accept the cards in lieu of cash and from membership fees. Some credit card practices have come in for criticism recently, mainly because of the mailing of unsolicited cards by banks and some others in the revolving credit field.

Read more:
Credit Card Rings (1964)
Online Shopping (1967)
Prelude to a Great Depression (The Chronicle Telegram, 1929)

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Millennium Bug (1998)

The 1998 book The Millennium Bug by Michael S. Hyatt is pretty pessimistic about mankind's future, given the "Y2K problem." Ironically, Mr. Hyatt blogged more recently about cynics who are pessimistic about the future. He says that real leaders "look on the sunny side." Priceless turnaround.

As ridiculous as the hysteria over Y2K may have been, it was certainly more palatable than the current "2012" nonsense. Whatever happened to being afraid of a good, old-fashioned robot uprising?

My favorite warning from the front cover of the book says that the "illusion of social stability is about to be shattered . . . and nothing can stop it." If this is even remotely true, why buy this book? Do you feel as if you're living with the "illusion of social stability"? Might we all crack in a moment's notice? Does every generation feel so special as to believe they live in the End Times?

The rest of the supposed "catastrophic results" of the Y2K bug were outlined on the book's back cover:
  • Social security checks will stop coming.
  • Planes all over the world will be grounded.
  • Credit card charges will be rejected.
  • Military defense systems will fail.
  • Police records and emergency communications will be inaccessible.
  • There will be massive, long-term power failures.
  • Bank funds will be inaccessible.
  • Insurance policies will appear to have expired.
  • Telephone systems will fail to operate.
  • IRS tax records and government funds will be unavailable.
  • The Federal Reserve will be unable to clear checks.
  • Time security vaults will fail to open or close on time.
  • Traffic signals will fail to function.
  • Office systems will fail and your employer will go out of business. [ed. note: This seems rather specific. My employer will go out of business? It's as if you're pointing directly at me through this book. How did you do that, magic book?]
Read more:
The Robot Rebellion (1982)
Final Date of the Earth: August 18, 1999 (1973)
The Prophetic Year 2000 (1968)
The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon
Nucelar War to Start September 12, 2006
Nuclear War Revisited (2006)
Apocalypse Soon (1980)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Commuting Will Be A Breeze (1957)

The October 22, 1957 Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune (Chillicothe, MO) ran this image of a flying bus of the future.
Commuting will be a breeze in the future, according to a national science magazine, which envisions tomorrow's workers traveling from home to business at 100 m.p.h. via a ducted-fan flying bus like the one above. The design, originated by Charles Zimmerman of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, provides a control dome for pilot and copilot, and seats 40 passengers behind large door windows which provide an unexcelled view. Artist-author Frank Tinsley of Mechanix Illustrated magazine, depicts the craft, which will support itself on columns of air forced downward through its twin fans.

Read more:
Nuclear Rocketship (1959)
Commuter Helicopter (1947)
'Flying Saucer' Buses (1950)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Meal Pill Skeptic (1936)

We've looked at plenty of predictions about how, in the future, we'd all be eating meal pills. From turkey dinners to beer to tutti-fruitti, it was a question of when we would enjoy them in pill form, not if we would. But in the October 6, 1936 Jefferson City Post-Tribune (Jefferson City, MO), Dr. Milton A. Bridges rains on the meal pill parade. The entire piece appears below.
KANSAS CITY, Oct. 6 - (AP) -- Alack and alas, the hardworking housewife must give up her dream of dispensing with a four-course meal by simply feeding hubby a concentrated food pill -- it can't be done, an authority said today.

The calory factor will necessitate continued operation of America's kitchens, explained Dr. Milton A. Bridges, assistant clinical professor of medicine at Columbia University and dietitics authority.

"Human beings never are going to eat pills for meals," said Dr. Bridges, emphatically. "Pills can never be made to contain sufficient caloric volume."

Caloric volume, the quantity of calories, is a factor of daily diet that must be kept to quota, Dr. Bridges explained.

"It is perfectly plausible to supply all the vitamins and minerals needed for a meal in pill form. But you can't get calories except by eating foods.

"And you'd have to eat the same foods we eat now to get those calories," added Dr. Bridges.

These foods, if the diet is properly balance, will provide the other necessary elements at the same time, Dr. Bridges declared, making the pills just so much surplusage, as far as the normal appetite is concerned.

Dr. Bridges is attending the annual fall conference of the Southwest Clinical Society.
Read more:
Whole Meal in Pill (1923)
Food of the Future (Indiana Progress, 1896)
Just Imagine (1930)
That Synthetic Food of the Future (Ogden Standard-Examiner, 1926)
Cigarettes of the Year 2000 (1944)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jetscalator (1960)

Reader Tom Z sent in this March 27, 1960 edition of Closer Than We Think, featuring the "Jetscalator." Tom explains:
This CTWT has held special significance for me (and anyone else who has used Dulles until quite recently). I haven’t flown in years, but I understand that the famous “Mobile Terminals” are finally gone, a case of a futuristic idea that didn’t work all that well in the real world.
The handful of times that I've been through the Dulles airport I've felt that I was going to miss my flight because of those slow moving shuttles. I hadn't heard that they might be doing away with the mobile lounges. Can anyone confirm that this is true?

The text from "Jetscalator" appears below:
Jet planes and the number of passengers they carry are getting bigger and bigger. Distances between terminals and loading docks are getting longer. The answer is a traveling waiting room with a moving ramp. Such a project is already being developed by the Chrysler Corporation, and it may be used at the new Washington, D.C., terminal now being designed by Eero Saarinen.

The "jetscalator," as it might be called, would move on wheels higher than a man.

It would have an up-or-down ramp and capacity for about 100 people. When departure time is at hand, travelers wouldn't have to stir from their chairs - they'd be transported in the "jetscalator" right to the side of the plane.

Next week: Cellar-size Scoopers

Read more:
Luggage Blowers (1961)
Airport of the Future (1967)
Fuller's Traveling Cartridge (circa 1960s)
Passenger Air Travel (1945)
Closer Than We Think! (1958-1963)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Universal Writing Formula for Futurism

I can't believe it took me this long, but I figured out the universal writing formula for futurism! It just clicked after reading a 1980s newspaper article about robots! Let me know what I'm missing:
  • Imagine [ten/twenty/fifty] years in the future.
  • Your [car/toaster/robot] speaks to you.
  • No, it's not your [friend/mom/crazy fever dream].
  • Your life just got better* with technology!
[*If article appears between 1971 and 1979 replace "better" with "shitty in the worst way"]

The December 8, 1985 Syracuse Herald Journal (Syracuse, NY) ran a piece about the personal robots of the future which uses this formula. The excerpt below quotes Nelson Winkless, author of the 1984 book, If I Had a Robot.
Imagine driving down the highway 10 or 20 years from now.

Suddenly, a small voice says, "You haven't called your mother lately. Don't you think you'd better call her today?"

No, it's not your conscience. It's your own personal robot, a funny little creature that keeps track of your obligations and watches out for you.

Of course, no one really knows what robots of the future will do to make your life easier. But a New Mexico robotics expert and author, Nelson Winkless, expects them to be more than mechanical housekeepers.

"Before we have robots that will do windows, we're going to have self-cleaning windows," he said, in a telephone interview from Corales, N.M. "I expect them to be useful in ways yet unanticipated.

"Suppose you had this little guy bumbling after you, keeping track of things. You may come to a corner and he'll say, 'Why don't you slow down and watch out here?'" says Winkless, who wrote "If I Had a Robot: What to Expect of the Personal Robot" (Dilithium Press, $9.95).

"We have just gotten to the point where we have (robots) that operate intuitively. They look at information and say, 'In all of my experience in life, what does this remind me of most?' They can see opportunities and problems and point them out."

Joe Herrera, robot product manager for Tomy Corp., in Carson, Calif., thinks there will be "a robot in every garage" by the year 2000.

"One robot for the home may be able to wash your car and tell the kids stories," says Herrera, whose company manufactures robot toys.

"Right now, personal robots are in the same stage handheld calculators were 10 years ago. But every year, we're learning more and more."

Read more:
If I Had a Robot (1984)
Newton the Household Robot (1989)
The Future of Personal Robots (1986)
Robo-Shop (1989)
Japanese Retail Robots (1986)
In a Cashless Future, Robots Will Cook (1996)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weather Made to Order? (1954)

Before starting the Paleo-Future blog I had no idea that weather control was such a prominent feature of mid-20th-century futurism. Raised on Jurassic Park's pop version of chaos theory, I suppose that little Matty was deathly afraid a butterfly beating its wings in Indochina would cause a typhoon in Omaha. And thus, messing with a single little black raincloud would surely cause massive, unforeseen destruction.

Ah, the carefree years of our youth.

The May 28, 1954 issue of Collier's predicted that mankind (and by that we mean the United States) would eventually have complete control over weather. An excerpt from the piece by Capt. H.T. Orville appears below.
A weather station in southeast Texas spots a threatening cloud formation moving toward Waco on its radar screen; the shape of the cloud indicates a tornado may be building up. An urgent warning is sent to Weather Control Headquarters. Back comes an order for aircraft to dissipate the cloud. And less than an hour after the incipient tornado was first sighted, the aircraft radios back: Mission accomplished. The storm was broken up; there was no loss of life, no property damage.

This hypothetical destruction of a tornado in its infancy may sound fantastic today, but it could well become a reality within 40 years. In this age of the H-bomb and supersonic flight, it is quite possible that science will find ways not only to dissipate incipient tornadoes and hurricanes, but to influence all our weather to a degree that staggers the imagination.

Read more:
Closer Than We Think! Weather Control (1958)
Weather Control of 2000 A.D. (1966)
Foolproof Weatherman of 1989 (1939)
Communities May Be Weatherized (Edwardsville Intelligencer, 1952)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Future of Photography (1964)

The September 27, 1964 Gastonia Gazette (Gastonia, NC) quotes Wolf Wehran, a representative of the Camera Industries of West Germany, (and probable superhero given his badass name), about the future of photography:
"I believe the photo industry will some day eliminate the processing operation as we know it today. They will dehydrate it - that is, take the water and the mess out of it.

"Instead of liquid solutions and time and temperature factors, it would be simpler to deal with a radiation or heat process to activate the latent image.

"The photograph would take his pictures with an automatic camera, wind the film or sensitized material through a box at home or anywhere he happens to be and out would come the strip of finished negatives, transparencies or prints. It is logically and practical and the trend of the industry thinking is in that direction."
The author of the article then seems to mock the very idea with a flippant comment about crystal balls.
If you can't buy a camera or processing box like that, maybe you can shop around for a crystal ball. It certainly makes beautiful pictures.

Read more:
Movies to be Produced in Every Home (1925)
Television of Tomorrow (1974)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Report From the Year 2050 (1984)

My interest in futurism can probably be credited to two things: Disney's EPCOT Center and children's science books of the 1980s and 90s. One of my earliest posts here at the Paleo-Future blog covered the EPCOT Center book, The Future World of Transportation. I vividly recall checking out the three books in this series from my elementary school library, my sticky fingers pawing through the technological promises Baby Boomers never saw materialize but insisted we Millennials would soon enjoy. Just over that horizon, just a little further! The year 2000 is going to change everything! We swear! 

The number is just so big. And round! 2000! Look at all those zeros. 2000!

To the author's credit they figured out that to sound even remotely plausible and still make me wet my Underoos over the advanced technology featured in the book, one had to open with a year further out than 2000 A.D.

And thus the first chapter, titled, "Report From the Year 2050." Below are four renderings of technology we are certain to have by the year 2050 (if those lying, deceitful Baby Boomers are to be believed).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hello and Welcome (Back)

Oh, hello! Good to see you!

It's been awhile. Glad you're still with us.

Haven't blogged in a couple months but I hear it's just like riding a bicycle, you never forget how. Unless maybe you go batshit crazy and drive around the West Coast aimlessly for two weeks. Then blogging is probably less like riding a bike and more like that friend you used to get drunk with but you can't tell him to leave you alone because he once saved your life....

So, let's get to the drinkin'!

Also, if you'd like to follow me on Twitter, feel free. But I can't promise exclusively paleo-futuristic material. It's good to be back.

Monday, September 1, 2008

California Cities in the Year 2000 (1961)

The March 12, 1961 Independent Star-News (Pasadena, CA) ran an article which heavily quotes Ed Dolker, deputy director of the California Department of Natural Resources. A short excerpt appears below. You can read the entire article here.
"There will be 60 million people in California in the year 2000," Dolder said. "There will be two great metropolises in our state - one that extends from Salinas to Moterey counties and the other from Santa Barabara to San Diego counties."

Read more:
Edmund G. Brown's Californifuture (1963)
James B. Utt on Space Travel (1963)
General Dynamics Astronautics Time Capsule (1963)
Governor Knight and the Videophone (Oakland Tribune, 1955)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Super-Highway of Tomorrow (1939)

While not spectacular to someone from 2008, this illustration of the "super-highway of tomorrow" was quite extraordinary to people attending the 1939 New York World's Fair. A concept drawing for the original Futurama, this image was found in the Official Guide Book to the 1939 World's Fair.

Read more:
Official Guide Book: 1939 World's Fair (1939)
Dawn of a New Day (1939)
Railroads on Parade (1939)
Memory of 'Tomorrow' (New York Times, 1941)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Inevitable Flying Car (USA Today)

You may have noticed a certain paleo-futurist quoted in yesterday's USA Today:
Matt Novak, however, remains unconvinced. The host of, a blog that looks at past predictions of the future, says flying cars look even further away these days.

"We had this sort of optimism in the '50s and '60s, a feeling that things were inevitable because of technology. And flying cars were on the short list," Novak says. "I don't think we're going to have freeways in the sky any time soon."

Read More:
What the future didn't bring
New Hampshire Public Radio (Jan, 2008)
Paleo-Future in the Wall Street Journal
Streamlined Cars of the Future

Monday, August 18, 2008

RCA's Two Thousand (1969)

Remember when adding "2000" to a product name was shorthand for futuristic, cutting-edge technology?

In 1969 RCA invited the American public to "take a leap into the year 2000" with a new television set called The Two Thousand. Selling a limited edition of 2,000 sets at $2,000 a pop, (about $12,000 in 2008 dollars), The Two Thousand certainly turned heads.

The advertisement above appears in a book about the history of television advertising, Window to the Future. The ad below appeared in the December 18, 1969 Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM).

From the Albuquerque Journal:
In one giant step RCA harnessed the speed and accuracy of the computer to help unveil a new century in color television. It's a limited edition (2,000 sets) with unlimited advancement.

First and most obvious, is its 21st century design, its sculptured whiteness curves to a rosewood veneer top. The black translucent doors slide back and disappear into the set, revealing the 23-inch diagonal screen.

And what a picture you'll see on that screen.

It's the new RCA Hi-Lite 70 tube - computer designed and engineered for 100% more brightness than any previous big screen RCA color tube. The Hi-Lite 70 tube gives such a vivid, detailed picture, you can even watch it in a brightly-lit room.

The remote controls of color, tint and volume are computer-designed too. They operate electronically so there are no motors, no noise, and no moving parts to wear out or break down.

Inside The Two Thousand, though, is the biggest news.

RCA eliminated the conventional VHF tuner. In its place are new computer-like "memory" circuits - electronic circuits with memories like tiny computers.

When you press the remote control button, the circuits automatically remember which channels you have programmed. So there's no wandering through empty channels for the station you want. You simply go silently and instantly from one live station to the next.

Press the UHF lever and the signal seeking circuitry takes over. A silent motor sweeps up and down the UHF band, seeking an active channel. When it finds one it stops. There's never any need to fine-tune the pictures. It's done for you electronically.

The Two Thousand represents the pinnacle of achievement in Color TV engineering and performance. Open its doors and embark on a totally new viewing adventure.

Read More:
Television of Tomorrow (1974)
Living Room of the Future (1979)
Motorola Television (1961-1963)
Motorola Television Revisited (1961-1963)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Aerial Mono-Flyer of the Future (1918)

The August, 1918 cover of Hugo Gernsback's Electrical Experimenter magazine featured the "aerial mono-flyer of the future."

This monorail seems like only a modest improvement in safety over the 1930's sightseeing death-trap known as the sky toboggan. But the mono-flyer is assuredly a less safe concept than the monorail of William H. Boyes, built around 1911.

This image was found in the book Out of Time: Designs for the Twentieth-Century Future. According to the book, Gernsback introduced Electrical Experimenter in 1915 and changed the name of the magazine to Science and Invention in 1920.

Read More:
William H. Boyes Monorail (1911)
Amphibian Monorail (Popular Science, 1934)
Sky Toboggan (1935)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cigarettes of the Year 2000 (1944)

Making things smaller and more efficient has, at least since the Industrial Revolution, been a staple of American futurist thinking. A women's dinner event in 1944 included "The Year 2000" as its theme and even the cigarettes were "concentrated." From the January 26, 1944 Maryville Daily Forum (Maryville, MO):
The group was served food suggestive of the theme and included tutti-fruitti pills; a pill of golden brown for the meat course; the dessert course was a miniature chocolate pellet and concentrated cigarettes. At the close of this banquet, food of 1944, including sandwiches and coffee, was served.

Read More:
Whole Meal in Pill (1923)
A Glimpse Into 2056 (1956)
Just Imagine (1930)
That Synthetic Food of the Future (Ogden Standard-Examiner, 1926)
Food of the Future (Indiana Progress, 1896)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Computers: Get Used to Them! (1982)

I would argue that the most funny, edgy and entertaining writing in the U.S. does not come from The Onion, but from high school newspapers. Granted, the humor coming from the Hormonal Fourth Estate may be largely unintentional, but it can be hilarious nonetheless.

As editor of the "Reviews" section of my high school newspaper I was notoriously bad at my job. I rarely attended class and edited my stories with the same attention to detail Don Draper gives his wife. My lack of diligence even got the "f-bomb" inadvertently published in my high school paper.

It is with this same high standard that I present a piece by Kevin Jensen. His story appeared in the November 26, 1982 edition of his high school newspaper, the Oelwein Husky Register.

Titled, "Computers, Get Used to Them!" the article says that computers are on their way but we have nothing to fear (as long as we have sledgehammers). The opening line starts by insulting the reader and just keeps getting better. The entire piece appears below.
Unless you're totally ignorant, you have probably noticed that computers are the talk of the early 1980's.

If you're a typical American, you are probably also growing tired of hearing how these computers will be running your life in the near future.

You may even have a slight fear of computers. No, I don't mean you wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat screaming, "Don't hurt me, computers!" But I think we all have a slight fear or uneasy feeling over things we are unfamiliar with.

Contrary to what you may have heard, your hands will not fall of when you touch the keyboard of a computer.

I was a little apprehensive when I walked into a computer programming class for the first time this year. All I knew about computers, prior to class, was they had computed my class schedule the last two years.

As I began to become more familiar with computer language and how to write computer programs, my uneasiness went away and I found working with computers enjoyable.

If you are considering taking a computer class (whether you are an adult or a student), I think you'd enjoy it. You may struggle a little at first learning the language and proper usage of statements, but with some persistence on your part, your mind will start picking up the techniques naturally.

You will probably also discover in your early stages of computer study that the computer can be a friend at times or a foe at other times, because of your inexperience.

For example, in computer programming class, when a program you have sweated over and worked on ruthlessly for a considerable length of time is run on the computer screen just as you planned, you might give the computer a nice pat on the top and then proceed to print out "your pride and joy."

On the other hand, when a different program assignment does not run on the computer screen as planned and the screen is showing you what seems like an infinite number of incorrect statements in your program you wish like heck you had a "nice" sledgehammer to make the computer see things your way.

Whether you like or dislike computers or are or aren't interested in them, you had better get used to hearing about them in the media. The experts predict that computers are going to be with us a long time and will be as commonplace in the home as the telephone by the year 2000.

Read More:
Computer Games of the Future (1981)
Computers in the Home by Year 2000 (1978)
Living Room of the Future (1979)
Computersville is almost here (1970)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bloodless Surgery, Closer Than We Think! (1959)

The November 15, 1959 edition of Closer Than We Think, (syndicated by the Chicago Tribune, written and illustrated by Arthur Radebaugh), predicted "bloodless surgery."
With the development of an "atomic knife," tomorrow's hospital operations may be as easy on the patient as relaxing in an easy chair - no incisions, no bleeding. The technique has already been used successfully in reducing hormone flow from the pituitary, in relieving depressed mental states by "cutting" brain segments, in treating certain cases of cancer.

Specialists at the University of California and in Uppsala, Sweden, have been able to destroy unwanted tissues by directing a proton beam toward them. Later, many researchers feel, the method may be used in any operation that doesn't require reconnecting of tissues.

Next week: Stop-and-Go Rockets

A special thanks to Tom Z. for today's scan.

Read More:
Our Friend the Atom (1956)
How Experts Think We'll Live in 2000 A.D. (1950)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Future of Futurism

A June 29, 2006 Slate piece by Reihan Salam reflects on futurism and had some fascinating insights. An excerpt appears below.
Even so, it's not fair to say that all futurism is misguided. Just most of it. In his 1976 Time essay "Is There Any Future in Futurism?" Stefan Kanfer wrote that you could divide futurists into neo-Malthusians and Cornucopians. Neo-Malthusians are convinced that the world is going to hell. Some, like The Population Bomb's Paul Ehrlich, blamed population growth; others, like the Club of Rome, blamed economic growth. Either way, the prescription remained the same: You've got to change your evil ways, Earthlings.

Is Futurism Dead? (New York Times, 1982)
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)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Harry Truman and the Year 2000 (1950)

The year 1950, (as we are wont to do with "round" numbered years), provided plenty of predictions of what the second half of the 20th century held.

An angry editorial critical of President Harry Truman, (a Missouri native), and his vision for the year 2000 appeared in the January 6, 1950 Sedalia Democrat (Sedalia, MO). An excerpt appears below. You can read the entire article here.
Mr. Stalin and the Moscow planners never offered the comrades anything nearly as good as what Mr. Truman promises. The pie he puts in the sky would really be worth waiting for, if it could be had by the year 2000.

In international affairs, there will be world peace. The atom will be under international control. The United Nations will be a going concern and will have forces to preserve international law and order. World commerce will be regullated under the new International Trade Organization. Other nations will share America's prosperity through an expanded Point Four Program of technical assistance to under-developed countries. Communism will be suppressed, not by force of arms, but by an appeal to the minds and hearts of men.

See also:
Subject: Politics
Lyndon B. Johnson on 2063 A.D. (1963)
Hubert H. Humphrey's Future (1967)
Hubert H. Humphrey's Year 2000 (1967)
Negro President by Year 2000 (1965)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Family Plane of 2030 A.D. (1930)

The June 15, 1930 Fresno Bee (Fresno, CA) published a piece about the year 2030 as envisioned by F.E. Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead. Super-airplanes, synthetic food, eugenics and a 16-hour work week are just a few of his predictions. An excerpt about transportation from the piece appears below. Bibliodyssey has a great collection of illustrations by E. McKnight Kauffer, which were used in Smith's book, The World in 2030 A.D.
In speaking of the "family" plane, a development conceded by almost everyone, Birkenhead adds that it will mean the relegating of the automobile to a most minor place in the field of transportation.

"By 2030," he says, "motor cars will probably have passed their zenith of popularity. A century later they will only be used for shopping, picnics and the amusement of youth. They will, in fact, sink to the level now occupied by the bicycle."

We may look forward then, it is to be supposed, to having our grandchildren tour the more out-of-the-way parts of the world and marvel at the "quaint" people who still chug here and there in automobiles even as we now smile at Bermuda where bicycles and horse-drawn buggies are the only forms of transportation allowed.

See also:
Sky Toboggan (1935)
Cyclonic Rocket (circa 1930)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Space and National Security (1963)

The 1963 U.S. Air Force film Space and National Security envisioned futuristic wars conducted in space. The clip above is taken from the fascinating NOVA episode, Astrospies. Many thanks to Matt Chapman of for bringing this clip to our attention.

As Matt points out, the "non-animation animation" is similar in style to many of the 1950s Disneyland TV episodes like Mars and Beyond, and Man and the Moon, as well as non-Disney films like Rhapsody of Steel.

See also:
Air Force Predictions for 2063 (1963)
2063 A.D. Book (1963)
Mars and Beyond (1957)
Man and the Moon (1955)
Rhapsody of Steel (1959)