Friday, May 30, 2008

"Modern Inventions" Production Art (1937)

Jeff over at 2719 Hyperion has some amazing production art from the 1937 Donald Duck short film Modern Inventions, including this sketch of our one-eyed robot butler. A clip from the short appears below. The entire short can be found on the Walt Disney Treasures DVD set The Chronological Donald, Volume One.

See also:
Donald Duck's "Modern Inventions" (1937)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Buck Rogers Rocket Ship (1934)

This 1934 Buck Rogers rocket ship toy appears in the book Ray Gun by Eugene W. Metcalf and Frank Maresca. The photography is by Charles Bechtold.

See also:
Ray Gun book (1999)
Jet Flying Belt is Devised to Carry Man for Miles (New York Times, 1968)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Moon Tourism (1988)

This image of "moon tourists [discovering] the pleasures of this Moon beach," is from the 1988 book The Earth's Moon (Isaac Asimov's Library of the Universe).
Imagine seas on a terraformed Moon! By creating an atmosphere on the Moon, we could capture sunlight and turn the Moon into a celestial tourist trap. This would be fun, but many scientists feel it is more important to keep the Moon pretty much as it is. Then we could use it to help us better understand Earth and the cosmos.

See also:
Vacations of the Future (1981)
Welcome to Moonbase (1987)
New World's to Radically Alter (1981)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Glimpse Into 2056 (1956)

The March 10, 1956 Ames Daily Tribune (Ames, IA) ran this story about a local play called Futurama 2056. The entire piece appears below.
Food in capsules, clothes you can throw away - these are a few of the features of the future to be seen in the play, "Futurama 2056," which will be presented at the general meeting of the Ames Woman's Club Monday at 2:30 p.m.

The play, a comedy fantasy, written by Mrs. George Town, will show two children of the future clad in close-fitting disposable garments and wearing space helmets. These children are being checked out before starting for the Space Drome for exercise classes. Transportation for the trip is the ordinary air pedicycles of the period.

When the study room of the future comes into view, the club committee women will be seen discussing a financial problem of the period.

Mrs. AJ Knudson plays the part of the committee chairman in whose home the play takes place.

Daisy Johnson portrays the Lady in Charge of the Household.

Mrs. W. J. Peer and Mrs. Dean Dickson are delegates with voting power.

Mrs. Joe Lawlor will play a character with flash back tendencies.

Mrs. B. R. Rozeboom, chairman of the Drama workshop, has entered the production in the Play Festival competition. The entire cast plans to present it in Iowa City during the Play Festival period, April 6.

See also:
Closer Than We Think! Throw-Away Clothes (1959)
Disposable Clothes Just Around Corner (1961)
Closer Than We Think! Fat Plants and Meat Beets (1958)
How Experts Think We'll Live in 2000 A.D. (1950)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Luggage Blowers (1961)

Given the recent American Airlines decision to charge for your first checked bag, it seemed appropriate to look at this Closer Than We Think strip from the February 12, 1961 Chicago Tribune.

I fly out on US Airways tomorrow morning and would much rather be paying the extra 15 bucks.
Luggage Blowers

As our airliners increase their speeds, a greater proportion of total travel time is required for getting luggage off planes and into the hands of passengers. This problem is being intensively studied, and new methods of speedier handling are being researched.

One suggestion involves the use of aluminum containers floated on air cushions created by low-pressure jets. The next logical step would be the elimination of the containers themselves. Then just the luggage would be floated along ramps - faster than incoming passengers could walk to the baggage claim section.

Next week: Space Traffic Cop

See also:
Closer Than We Think! Throw-Away Clothes (1959)
Airport of the Future (1967)
Fuller's Traveling Cartridge (circa 1960s)
Passenger Air Travel (1945)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Apocalypse Soon (1980)

The March 5, 1980 Daily Press (Escanaba, MI) ran a piece about prophecies of the apocalypse. An excerpt appears below.
Billy Graham, since the beginning of his evangelistic ministry, has been telling his followers that the Second Coming is near, although he no longer pinpoints the date as he did in 1950.

"We may have another year, maybe two years, to work for Jesus Christ," he said that year. "And then, ladies and gentlemen, I believe it's going to be all over."

That was 30 years ago.

Today Graham will only say that "Our Lord gave a summary of events that signal his return and the end of the world as we know it. He named conditions that would prevail. Reading them one must be struck by their resemblance to what we see daily on our TV screens and in our newspapers."

Some of the Bible "signs" Graham sees taking place are "wars and rumors of wars, famine, earthquakes, multiplied lawlessness and iniquity, and the return of the Jews to their homeland."

The photograph of Billy Graham was taken April 11, 1966 by Warren K. Leffler and can be found at the Library of Congress website.

See also:
The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon
Nucelar War to Start September 12, 2006
Nuclear War Revisited (2006)
Headlines of the Near Future (1972)
The Future of Religion (1980)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Movies to be Produced in Every Home (1925)

The September 5, 1925 Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV) ran an article titled, "Expect Movies to be Produced in Every Home," in which Cecil B. DeMille predicts not only home movies of the future, but the rise of the amateur filmmaker as a force in the film industry.

Alongside D.W. Griffith's 1923 prediction of future private movie libraries, it is quite astounding how forward-thinking the film industry was in the 1920s.
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 4 - Even as father now slices the beef roast and Sister Mary plays the piano, so may motion pictures in the future be produced in every American home.

This is the belief of several leading American producers.

"It is not at all beyond the range of possibility, and to me it seems probable, that within the next 20 years some householder with absolutely no studio training will produce a screen masterpiece, with no stage except that of his own parlor, dining room or bedroom." Cecille DeMille, the Los Angeles producer, declared today in an exclusive interview.

Explains His Theory

In explanation of his theory, DeMille said:

"Slow film and slow camera lenses requiring a great quantity of light have been the sole reason until now that especially equipped studios have had a monopoly on the making of photoplays.

"Very elaborate and expensive electrical equipment has in the past always been necessary to produce a great flood of light. Lenses and aim have not been developed to a point where they can pick up a moving figures in ordinary light and still give the sense of depth necessary is good photography.

"That time is rapidly passing. Every day better lenses are being developed and every day some new chemical is found which increases the speed of our film.

"It will not be long until anyone will be able to make motion pictures in no more than ordinary indoor daylight. And when that time comes we will find cameramen utilizing daylight to give far better results than at present. For such limited light will do away altogether with sharp lines and shadows, which often mar pictures taken in too dazzling an illumination.

Use to Be Widespread

"With the necessity of powerful lighting done away with, motion pictures can then be taken in every American home and the motion picture camera used in just the same fashion as kodaks are today.

"So one sees that as a prairie woman in Nebraska may produce the greatest novel of the year or a man in the mountain wilds of Montana compose the best musical composition of a decade, so may an ordinary householder produce a motion picture far superior to all others."

See also:
Movie Theater of the Future (1930)
Thinks We'll Do Our Reading On Screen (1923)
Robots vs. Musicians (1931)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Will robots make people obsolete? (1959)

The January 4, 1959 issue of Parade magazine published a piece by Sid Ross titled, "Will Robots Make People Obsolete?"

The piece in its entirety appears below in all its dystopian glory. Who knew that Parade could be so dark? The piece claims that in the future "mankind's major struggle will be against boredom, with the suicide rate zooming as people lose the race."

The heaviness of the piece, along with the accompanying illustration, raise so many questions. Chief among them, why would a family of four gleefully jump into that menacing robot's mouth?

Secondly, why would Father be fed an entire pumpkin? For that matter, why is this evil machine feeding him at all?

Is Robo-Dog attacking Little Johnny for a reason? Maybe Johnny pulled Robo-Dog's metal tail one too many times. I'm willing to accept the possibility that Johnny deserves what's coming to him.

Lastly, despite the abject horror on Mother's face, the robot servant appears to be doing a damn fine job. Baby is happy and there's no indication that supper is burning. Granted, we have to assume that Mother was less-than-gingerly placed into that trash can by Mr. Octo-Eyes.

(UPDATE: I've been informed that the illustration for this piece was done by the incredible Jim Flora.)

Parade Magazine
January 4, 1959
All over the world and on the colonies in outer space, everyone is excited about the most popular event of the year. All human activity stops as people breathlessly await the outcome of the world's championship tiddlywinks contest.

In this world of the future mankind has little else to be excited about. For earth has been transformed into a "paradise" where incredibly clever robots take care of things. They do the farming, the factory work, run the trains, regulate traffic, enforce the law, cook the meals, clean the houses and distribute a vast wealth of goods and services to which every human being is entitled - merely by being alive.

Almost nothing familiar on earth today will survive in this robotized world of the future. For instance:
  • Only a privileged few will have the right to work at a job.
  • The dream of youngsters will not be to grow up rich and successful, but to be one of the favored few workers.
  • Juvenile delinquency will take the form of vandalism against robots.
  • Everyone wil aspire for some kind of "blue ribbon" for an amateur activity, hobby or sport - possibly an award for the best ship model built out of matchsticks or the most colorful rock garden in town.
  • Heroes and celebrities will be the persons who devise new parlor games.
Withering Family Life
  • Mankind's major struggle will be against boredom, with the suicide rate zooming as people lose the race.
  • Governments and family life will wither away. Public officials will be replaced by Board of Supervisors to "umpire" games, sports and recreation, and also administer competitive exams which would decide who could work at the few essential jobs left for human beings to do.
Fantastic? Certainly, by our everyday standards of progress. But every one of these dizzying pictures of life in the future could conceivably become real - when and if man creates robots to do his work for him.

Man's mastery of science and technology is advancing by tremendous leaps and bounds. One of his major goals ever since the caveman harnessed an ox to a primitive plow, has been to make something else replace human muscle power. The ultimate "something else" is the robot that acts and thinks like a man.

For the robot-powered society described here, Parade enlisted the fertile imagination and scientific knowledge of Isaac Asimov, an associate professor of bio-chemistry at the Boston University School of Medicine and a writer of science-fiction stories, including a series on robots.

Awful to Face

Wondrous as Asmiov's robotized world of the future may seem, the man who dreamed it up wants no part of it. Says Asimov, "I'll be glad that I will have long since been dead rather than face life in such a society!"

In the transportation systems of the future, electronically guided robots will be the bus and truck drivers. There may be robots that can repair TV sets, fix the plumbing, run IBM machines, act as traffic policemen, read galley proofs, serve as "information" attendants at railway stations.

"In theory," says Asimov, "there is no reason why any human job cannot be done by a machine if we can invent a robot brain as complex and as small as the human brain. Under such circumstances, there is no reason why a robot couldn't mentally be capable of doing anything a human can.

"But who will need man then? Man will die off of simple boredom and frustration." The reason, Asimov points out, is that comparatively few people can be usefully creative.

Consider the Joneses, who in a robotized world, have lost their usefulness:

Mr. and Mrs. Jones would have it easy. Their robot butler would awaken them gently, serve them breakfast in bed and wheel away and wash the dirty dishes. The robot valet and maid would choose the day's attire and dress them.

"Free" for the day, Mr. and Mrs. Jones must decide what to do. Mrs. Jones doesn't have the drudgery of housekeeping. Mr. Jones has no job to go to, since robots are doing nearly all the work. Of course, he could spend the day tinkering with his sailboat, although he knows a robot could tune u p the auxiliary engine more efficiently. Mrs. Jones may decide to work in the garden. Her robot could do this better, but she jealously guards this privilege.

Some people - the "aristocracy" in this strange robot society - would be entitled to work.

See also:
Closer Than We Think! Robot Housemaid (1959)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957)
Call a Serviceman (Chicago Tribune, 1959)
The Electronic Brain Made Beef Stew (1959)
Something must be wrong with its radar eye! (Chicago Tribune, 1959)
Frigidaire Kitchen of the Future (1957)
Monsanto House of the Future Brochure (1961)
How Experts Think We'll Live in 2000 A.D. (1950)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Problems with Eugenics (1967)

A few months back we looked at a clip from the February 26, 1967 episode of CBS's 21st Century. The episode includes an interview with James Bonner, who advocated for human eugenics in the future.

Today, we have a clip of the retort by Harrison Brown, who raises questions about whether eugenics is as "common sense" as Bonner insists. Interestingly enough, Harrison Brown and James Bonner co-wrote a book together in 1957 titled, The Next Hundred Years.

What are the outstanding virtues we should attempt to breed in to our population? You might say intelligence, but what kind of intelligence? You might say attractiveness, but what kind of attractiveness?

The episode, "The Mystery of Life," can be found in its entirety on the A/V Geeks DVD, Twenty-First Century.

See also:
21st Century Eugenics (1967)
Future Shock - Babytorium (1972)
Instant Baby Machine (1930)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dymaxion "Car of the Future" (1934)

Resembling a whale out of water, here you see the Dymaxion, a three-wheeled vehicle being manufactured at Bridgeport, Conn., as "the car of the future." The invention of Buckminster Fuller, the super-streamlined model has two front wheels set midway in the ovaloid body and one rear wheel, set in the tail, which does the steering, rudder fashion. It uses little gasoline, but can travel 125 miles an hour.

The May 6, 1934 News and Tribune (Jefferson City, MO) ran the photograph above of Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion "Car of the Future." The advertisement below, which ran in the April 23, 1934 New Castle News (New Castle, PA) used an image of the streamlined Dymaxion to help sell motor fuel.

See also:
Gyroscopic Rocket Car (1945)
Buckminster Fuller Screenprints (1981)
Fuller's Traveling Cartridge (circa 1960s)
The Most Well-Documented Lives in History
Sea City 2000 (1979)
GM's Three-Wheeled Runabout (1966)
Automobiles of the Future (1966)
GM Car of the Future (1962)
Sports Car of Tomorrow (1966)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fantastic Creatures May Greet You to Mars (1957)

The February 28, 1957 Lowell Sun (Lowell, MA) ran a fantastic piece about the plant and animal life we would likely find on Mars. A map that accompanied the piece even laid out where the likely vegetation, deserts, canals and oases were located.

The 1957 Disneyland TV episode Mars and Beyond shared many of the same assumptions about animal life on the Red Planet. Of course it would be difficult for life to sustain itself on Mars, that's why they're Martians!

An excerpt from the Lowell Sun piece appears below.
The Martians greeting the first space travelers from Earth may be fantastic furry little creatures peeking out of lonesome burrows.

Speculation that Mars might have animal life is contained in a book, "A Space Traveler's Guide to Mars," by Dr. I. M. Levitt of the Fels Planetarium, Philadelphia.

But these Martians would be astonishingly different from earthly animals, living by a different chemistry of life dictated by severe conditions of our Red Planet neighbor.

Many astronomers think Mars has some kind of plant life. One bit of evidence is changes in blue-green areas, which could be plant life spreading with the seasons over the Martian deserts.

And if there are plants, are there animals that feed on them and help decompose dead plants?

See also:
Animal Life on Mars (1957)
Plant Life on Mars (1957)
Mars and Beyond (1957)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More French Prints of the Year 2000 (1900)

Hunting and Destroying Microbes

The website Television History has five more French prints which imagine the year 2000. The site claims that 50 such cards, each illustrating different wonders of a hundred years hence, were produced for the 1900 Paris Exposition.

Flying Tennis

Projecting Telescope

Underwater Croquet

Flying Buses

See also:
French Prints Show Year 2000 (circa 1910)
Gardens of Glowing Electrical Flowers (1900)
Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900)
Stepped Platform Railway (1890)
Moving Sidewalk (1900)
Moving Sidewalk Mechanics (1900)
Going to the Opera in the Year 2000 (1882)

Jeopardy 1999 (1979)

This Saturday Night Live sketch from (1976?) is chock full of Walter Mondale, Fran Tarkenton, and a slew of other references sure to sail over the youngsters' heads. The sketch stars Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, Laraine Newman and Chevy Chase.

Many thanks to Zach Parr for bringing this piece of the paleo-future to our attention.

See also:
Television of Tomorrow (1974)
Home Entertainment of the Future (1981)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Experimental City of the Future (1967)

The January 22, 1967 Lowell Sun (Lowell, MA) ran this illustration of an experimental city of the future.
Typical Experimental City may look like this. At left is computerized communications complex; at center lies atomic power plant, while at right is greenhouse for vegetables and greenery.

See also:
Transportation in 2000 A.D. (1966)
Personal Helicopter (1943)
Commuter Helicopter (1947)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Television of Tomorrow (1974)

Bob MacKenzie wrote a relatively balanced and thoughtful piece about the future of television in the February 3, 1974 Oakland Tribune titled, "A 'Tomorrow' Look At World Of TV." Even articles about television were shaped by the energy fears of the 1970s.

"It now seems possible that we won't keep getting richer," MacKenzie writes. "The energy to run those room-size television screens and 3-D telecasts may have to be used for something more mundane.... like heating the joint or getting the old man to work and back."

Later in the article, MacKenzie explains what made movie theaters unique in an era before HBO and VHS tapes, "At present the movie theaters are offering patrons what they can't get on their home screens - bloody violence, nudity, sex, naughty words. But even those never-failing attractions will be available on television in the future...."

The piece in its entirety appears below.
Malcolm Muggeridge, the ancient, acidic book critic writing in Esquire, likes to refer to "future historians . . . if there are any."

We must now consider the case of future television watchers, if there are any.

What will they watch, and on what?

Every era rewrites the future; visionaries of the 1960s told us about all the fantastic electronic gear that would doubtless bring the world into the living rooms of future Americans - not only in sounds and pictures, but in odors too; specials about pollution would come complete with stink. The images would likely be three-dimensional and life size. Some of the more fervent prognosticators even looked forward to feelevision.

Video screens, it was said with what seemed optimism at the time, would cover entire walls in our homes. Channels would be unlimited; the viewer would be able to tune in on a Russian news program or a course in Latvian cooking at the touch of a button, or rather, a wave of the hand over a sensory node.

Banking and shopping would be done at home through two-way television communications. Voting would be done directly through the video system. Local town meetings would be conducted through television, with the participants all sitting home.

Three-dimensional television, technically feasible through ionization of alpha particles in the air that fills the living room, would bring life-size actors walking around in the room. Viewers would be able to enter into the drama, play roles, with computerized dialogue responding to the home player's improvised lines.

It all sounded wonderful. Or did it?

All those dreams of endless fun and self-improvement through the magic of super-television depended in part of the reigning ideology of the time which was: everything is always going to keep getting bigger and better.

Suddenly the doctrine of eternal abundance as a basic American right is seen as not so certain any more. We are running out of things. And the inevitability of progress can't be taken quite so readily for granted.

It now seems possible that we won't keep getting richer. The energy to run those room-size television screens and 3-D telecasts may have to be used for something more mundane.... like heating the joint or getting the old man to work and back.

The supersize television screens postulated a complete changeover in television technology; in other words, the scrapping of every piece of television equipment now in use - every home set, every camera and videotape machine. For, to increase the size of the screen considerably, we would have to increase the numbers of lines of transmission. That means new machines.

This could happen in 100 years. Almost anything could. But it probably won't happen for a long while, so finish paying off that color set.

Does the energy crunch and all its attendant melancholy side-effects mean that television technology isn't going anywhere?

Not at all. In the near future we'll be receiving new messages new waves on new equipment - not in life-size tri-dimensional smellovision, but in conventional television with improvements.

Like miniaturization, for instance. This branch of the electronic sciences has boomed in the past few decades. The tiny transistors which replaced the cumbersome vacuum tubes have themselves been replaced by even tinier, miraculously encoded bits of metal called MOS chips. One chip the size of a nailhead replaces hundreds of transistors. Not only are they littler, they're cheaper.

What does this mean for you and me? How about a perfectly flat television set that can be hung on the wall like a picture? Perfectly feasible in the near future. And the wrist television set, a la Dick Tracy, is now a practicable machine. Within a decade or so, you may be carrying a tiny walkie-talkie-like device in your shirt pocket. We may all be in instant audial and visual touch with one another.

Once the technology of miniature television receivers is worked out, they will be inexpensive to construct. And they will use less energy than present set, the pocket TV set will be as handy as a pocket calculator - and probably less expensive, since everyone will have one.

Every technological advance has its darker side, of course. If everyone is immediately reachable by two-way television, your boss will always be able to find you - not to mention your wife and your friendly local loan company.

Cassette TV is really on the way, too. A home library of cassettes will be a normal middle-class acquisition long before the Tribune Tower weathers its second centennial. But don't expect home cassettes to arrive immediately, or to be inexpensive when they do arrive. It will be a long time before cassettes reach the mass-distribution economics of the music recording industry. even when it does, a taped television program will cost at least twice what you will pay for an LP music tape.

Since, as mentioned before, it's just possible we won't all be richer then, how will the average family buy TV cassettes of the movies, instruction courses, plays, etc, that will be offered?

Probably by renting cassettes, or borrowing them from public libraries. Cassette TV, when it arrives, will bring the convenience of books and magazines: the viewer will watch a program of his choice, at a time of his choosing.

Full-scale home cassette television should arrive within 10 years, provided we do not develop air shortage in the meantime, and provided the Japanese continue to improve in what used to be called American knowhow.

What about television programs? How will they change?

100 years in the future is very far ahead to peer; if there are still television programs then, they will be about things of interest to a people who will be as unlike us as we are unlike the steerage passengers in the Mayflower. Perhaps their programs will be instructional "How to Eat Plastic," or "I Breathed in Los Angeles and Lived."

Who knows? We will leave these matters to future television columnists, if any. But we can look into the immediate future and make some educated guesses about programs in 10 and 20 years, based on the ways programs are changing now.

The most immediately obvious evolution in television is toward bigger and better movies for television. In a very few years, features produced for TV have moved from skimpily budgeted trash (Z-pictures, one critic called them) to a healthy form that often supplies good entertainment and occasionally brings memorable drama.

TV-movies still supply plenty of trash (perhaps trash is a needed commodity; the world has never been without it), and budgets are still small. But changes are coming, and very soon.

Small budgets and high aspirations have managed fine television movies like "Brian's Song"; but in the future producers may not be so confined in the money department. Ways are being found to produce full-scale motion pictures for television.

"The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" might be considered the first of anew generation of television movies. Produced with scope and size, this fine picture was budgeted at $900,000 - still a low expense for a theatrical movie, but double or triple the cost of most TV-movies. A network contract for four showings, plus planned revenue for European theatrical bookings, will pay for the film and bring a profit.

Another venture, on NBC, is called International World Premiere. By this plan, new movies for television will be seen on NBC the same night they open in theaters in other countries - so the producers, with revenues from both TV and theaters, can hire major stars and deliver full-scale production.

Eventually, as other ways of financing television films are found, movies for television will become the equal of theatrical movies - in quality if not in sensationalism.

At present the movie theaters are offering patrons what they can't get on their home screens - bloody violence, nudity, sex, naughty words.

But even those never-failing attractions will be available on television in the future - if not in the regularly scheduled programs, then in cassette television. And, needless to say, Cassettes will bring the era of readily-available TV pornography. Whether that constitutes an advance for the civilized world the reader must decide for himself.

And as long as people persist in being human, television drama will concern the same subjects that drama has always treated: the timeless issues of love and faith and valor and ambition and loss, the yearnings of the heart and itchings of the glands.

People will always be interested in these things. And television, or whatever replaces it in the incalculable, unpredictable future, will still be staging the stories about the good guys versus the bad guys.

With any luck, the good guys will still be winning.

See also:
Home Entertainment of the Future (1981)
Living Room of the Future (1979)
Movie Trends of the 21st Century (1982)
How Experts Think We'll Live in 2000 A.D. (1950)
Movie Theater of the Future (1930)
Learning in 1999 A.D. (1967)
Tomorrow's TV-Phone (1956)
Closer Than We Think: Headphone TV (1960)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Paleo-Future on Attack of the Show

G4's Attack of the Show mentioned the Paleo-Future blog last night. For some reason they gave the domain as Does that mean I have to set up a nonprofit organization now? Maybe I could create a foundation that donates used jetpacks to at-risk youth.

See also:
What the future didn't bring
New Hampshire Public Radio (Jan, 2008)
Paleo-Future in the Wall Street Journal
Article for MungBeing

Delayed Education in the Year 2000 (1937)

The July 8, 1937 San Antonio Light (San Antonio, TX) ran a blurb about predictions for the year 2000. Apparently, children won't attend school until they reach ten years of age. The entire blurb appears below.
A Columbia university educator, addressing students at the University of California at Los Angeles, predicted that "by the year 2000, we won't send children to school until they are 10 years old." He said that "while they are young, we will keep them busy building healthy bodies in the fresh air". Evidently, he doesn't know the mammas. They want to get their children into school as early as possible. One of the reasons for the development of the kindergarten is to hasten the time when even devoted mothers can get a little freedom from the demands of their children. But the year 2000 is a long way in the future.

See also:
French Prints Show the Year 2000 (1910)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Newton the Household Robot (1989) (via points us to terrific video of a personal household robot named Newton. "He" was marketed by the company SynPet in 1989 with this VHS promotional video.

If you do nothing else, (in the short time we have here on Earth), at least skip ahead to minute 6:20 in the video. The Newton theme song just became the unofficial theme song of the Paleo-Future blog.

This is Newton. Technologically advanced, user-friendly, and practical. In future homes, personal robots will be commonplace. Newton, by SynPet, brings the future home to you.

[Cue awesome theme song]

You'll be amazed what he can do!
Meet Newton.
Where future and fun go together!
Meet Newton.
He'll be your friend forever! Whenever!
Meet Newton.
He'll be a part of your family!
Meet Newton.
He's a helping hand through technology!
He's a dream come true, bringing the future home to you! He's watching you!
Meet Newton.

The still images above were stolen from, which has more great photos of the Newton.

I've rambled about robot servants on more than a few occasions, but what do you think? Why haven't personal household robots such as these found a market?

See also:
Maid Without Tears (1978)
The Future of Personal Robots (1986)
Robo-Shop (1989)
Japanese Retail Robots (1986)
In a Cashless Future, Robots Will Cook (1996)

Monday, May 5, 2008

What the future didn't bring

Paleo-Future readers in the Twin Cities may have noticed a certain blogger on the front page of today's St. Paul Pioneer Press. No, it wasn't my idea to pose, fake-blogging on my bed. We have a small apartment. The living room is filled with books and there's no place to sit. The photographer didn't have many options.

A couple friends of mine made a bet about how early in the piece Disney or EPCOT would be mentioned. Nic won. He guessed the sixth paragraph.

It was the fifth.
Matt Novak has seen a vision of the future. A lot of visions.

That's because in the past year or so, the 24-year-old St. Paul resident has turned himself into a sort of accidental expert on the paleo-future: depictions of the future from the past.

He collects and comments on yesterday's predictions of tomorrow on his blog,, which has become a sort of online museum of a promised world of jet packs, meals in a pill and sex with robots.

Novak said the project, "a look into the future that never was," started in January 2007 when he was taking a writing class at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. One of the assignments was to create a blog.

He'd always been interested in the fantastic, strange or goofy predictions of the future, dating back to a childhood visit to Disney World: "In the 1980s, EPCOT was a thing that already looked dated." There also was his second-grade diorama in 1992 of what the world would look like eight years in the future: "Cars on magnetic tracks, all sort of crazy things like that; 2000 was such a magic number, the world would be so different."

See also:
New Hampshire Public Radio (Jan, 2008)
Paleo-Future in the Wall Street Journal
Article for MungBeing
Sincerity and the Paleo-Future
Postmodern Paleo-Future

Friday, May 2, 2008

Alfred Hitchcock to the Year 2000 (1958)

The April 6, 1958 Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode Disappearing Trick ends with the master of suspense making a plea to the people of the year 2000. A clip of the program can be seen below.

Since this program is on film and will probably be shown for many years to come, I should like to address my next remarks to those of you who are watching this show in the year 2000. Please write in at once and tell us what life is like. I'm quite curious. Until next week, good night.

See also:
Anachronisms of the Future (1911)
Television: Medium of the Future (1949)
How Experts Think We'll Live in 2000 A.D. (1950)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Streamlined Humans (1934)

This article from the July 29, 1934 Ogden Standard-Examiner (Ogden, UT) imagines the streamlined human of the future. In the piece, Count Sakhnoffsky proposes the alteration of humans to fit the new, fast-paced society of the future. An excerpt appears below. You can read the entire article above.
Why [Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky] asks, shouldn't men and women have their ears clipped to a torpedo raciness, get their trunks windcurved, be equipped with a set of toeless, graceful feet and possess a filtering device which will give them pure rather than germ-laden air?

Not only has the count, who is to become an American citizen in a year and a half, and prefers to be called just plain Mister or, better yet, Alec, been thinking about what streamlined humans should look like. He has gone even further. He has put to paper his talented pen, from which have come designs for streamlined radios and refrigerators, and drawn concrete examples of the ideal form toward which he feels genuine moderns should be striving.

See also:
Bearded Men of the 21st Century (1939)
Railroads on Parade (1939)