Friday, November 30, 2007

Advertising in the Near Future (1885)

While almost all of science fiction is a direct comment of the time in which it was created more so than a prediction of the future, paleo-futurism is more often a direct prediction of the future. This image of "advertising in the near future," while not science fiction, is clearly more a comment on the period in which it was published.

The image is from an 1885 issue of Puck magazine but can also be found in the 1956 book Predictions by John Durant.

See also:
Picturesque America (1909)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Every Era Produces Good Music (1968)

The August 31, 1968 Daily Review (Hayward, CA) ran this article about the possibility that future generations may one day consider music of the 1960s to be good. The article turns into a very specific endorsement/advertisement of a new LP by The Sandpipers. Do you think there was some payola going on in the newspaper industry as well as the radio business?
NEW YORK (UPI) - It is true that more melodic pop music was produced in the 1930s than in any other decade in this century, yet no era or generation can claim a monopoly on good sound.

And it may be that the pop musicologists of the 1990s may report to their generations that some elegant tunes were composed in the 1960s.

"Spanish Eyes," "Love Is Blue," and perhaps a show tune such as "Cabaret" have a good chance of being in some group's catalogue of popular standards at the turn of the next century.

Both "Spanish Eyes" and "Love is Blue" are among the 11 selections in an outstanding LP entitled "Softly" by The Sandpipers (A&M SP4147). These melodic and nostalgic numbers are handled magnificently by The Sandpipers, who have appeal to all ages.

But the feature song is "Quando M'Innamoro," which also has a foot in the musical door of the future. And the opening number, "Softly," is restful musical medicine.

See also:
All the Music of the Centuries (1908)
Robots vs. Musicians (1931)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Magic Highway U.S.A. Publicity Stills (1958)

Kevin Kidney has uploaded some amazing Magic Highway, U.S.A. images taken straight from publicity stills of the era. He cleaned them up, spending upwards of an hour and a half on each image. As a Disney artist for over 22 years, Kevin's Flickr account also contains great examples of his work on Disney collectibles. Kevin currently works as a freelance designer.

See also:
Disney's Magic Highway, U.S.A. (1958)
Farm to Market (1958)
Magic Highway, U.S.A. Segment (1958)
Disneyland to Take to Highways Tonight (1958)

World of Robots (1929)

The November 10, 1929 Helena Daily Independent (Helena, Montana) ran this short piece about the robots of the future which would enslave humanity by the year 1950.
Birmingham, Eng., Nov. 9. - The world will be a place of mechanical men in 1950, according to the Institute of Industrial Welfare. Skill will have vanished from industry then, it was predicted, and men will be slaves of machines, working ceaselessly in the cause of mass production. The institute is trying to develop "leisure skill" in place of mechanical skill.

See also:
Donald Duck's "Modern Inventions" (1937)
All's Fair at the Fair (1938)
The Mechanical Man of the Future (1928)
The End of Work (1966)
Restaurant Robots (1931)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Maid Without Tears (1978)

Matt Chapman, co-creator of Homestar Runner, sent me this great image from the 1978 book Exploring the World of Robots.

While I've never had a maid, I didn't know that they were always on the verge of crying! As Matt notes, "the 'Maid Without Tears' does not appear to have been made without cords as she has two of them coming out of her, dragging dangerously on the ground." Text from the image appears below.

Stay tuned, because I've found some great newspaper articles about the "Quasar, robot of the future." With headlines like, "Take out your trash, laugh at your jokes," and "R2D2? You ain't seen nothin' yet!" just scratch the paleo-futuristic surface.
Today we have many different gadgets in our homes. They make housework and gardening easier. In [the] future we may have robot servants to do all the jobs in the home.

In charge of tomorrow's servants will be a robot brain. It will run the house. It will control other machines electronically. The brain will work vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, washing machines, food mixers, automatic cookers and other gadgets.

We will be able to give the brain its orders, telling it what jobs to do and when to do them. If we forget to mow the lawn, the robot brain will remind us. Then we can tell the robot to get on with the job.

There may be walking robots to do the dusting, and to lay and clear the table. The robots in the picture are real. One is called Quasar. Quasar can vacuum carpets, mow lawns, carry trays of food, and even take the dog for a walk! At the door is another robot, called the Maid Without Tears.

One day people may not go out to work at all. They will work from home, using television and robots. The robot brain will suggest meals for the day. It will order our shopping, finding out from other robots in the local shops where the best buys are. The goods will be packed and delivered to our home by robots.

See also:
Robots: The World of the Future (1979)
Living Room of the Future (1979)
In a Cashless Future, Robots Will Cook (1996)
Closer Than We Think! Robot Housemaid (1959)
The Electronic Brain Made Beef Stew (1959)
The Future of Personal Robots (1986)

Cars Detroit Forgot To Build, 1950-1960

Bruce McCall's 2001 book The Last Dream-o-Rama is a brilliant, hilarious example of postmodern paleo-futurism (an obnoxiously academic term I came up with to describe co-opting past visions of the future).

With a subtitle of "The Cars Detroit Forgot to Build, 1950-1960" this book is pure parody. Although, side-by-side with the sincere concept drawings of Driving Through Futures Past, one would be hard-pressed to tell the parody from the real thing.

The illustration above is called the "HobbyPop RoadShop from 1958" which proclaims that Mom better drive smoother upstairs because, "Dad's trying to build a birdhouse downstairs!" More excerpts from the book appear below.

El Scandinavia Mk XXX, 1956
"The Look of Today, Tomorrow!" was Matterhorn Motors' promotional theme for 1956, and semanticists, at least those with both the time and inclination, still bicker over its precise meaning: a promise, or an IOU?

Opening night of Matterhorn Motors' Futurific Tomorrowrama Cavalcade of Chrome, Detroit, October 1954. Public hysteria topped Orson Welles's 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds before Matterhorn announced that none of the dream cars on display would be produced for sale.

Bossmobile Gal Friday Execustreak, 1958
Bulgemobile Corp. decided to give the busy Fifties executive the break he needed with its premier dream car for the '58 season. Enter the fabulous Bossmobile, where the high-salaried corporate big shot could sit back, digest his three-martini lunch, and dictate memos or gab to his golf pro on the portable Electrofone or just uncap the Johnny Walker in the lower right-hand desk drawer for a bracing nip or three before the Bossmobile deposited him at his split-level suburban home in time for cocktail hour.

See also:
Gyroscopic Rocket Car (1945)
GM's Three-Wheeled Runabout (1966)
Postmodern Paleo-Future
GM Car of the Future (1962)
Automobiles of the Future (1966)
Postmodern Paleo-Future Art

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mile Run in 3:41 by Year 2000 (1965)

The September 4, 1965 Press Courier (Oxnard, CA) ran an article titled, "Physiologist sees mile run in 3:41 by year 2000." The entire article appears below.

In case you were wondering, the actual world record in 2000 was 3:43.13, set by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco, according to Running Times magazine.
How fast will man run the mile in the year 2000?

The answer, according to Oxford University physiologist B.B. Lloyd, is three minutes, 41 seconds - more than 12 seconds faster than French athlete Michel Jazy's current world mark of 03.53.6.

Lloyd, addressing the annual convention of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, said the trends in record breaking of the past 50 years were likely to continue for the next 50.

Records keep getting broken, he said, because athletes keep getting "greater hearted" - their muscles get more oxygen from the blood pumped to them by the heart.

Thus, he thought the reason for improvement lay not so much in individual skill as in more intensive selection and training, particularly during the final stages of growth.

These were his forecasts for other world marks at the end of the century.

100 yards: 8.6 seconds, now 9.1.
440 yards: 42.4 seconds, now 44.9.
10,000 meters: 26:08.4, now 27:39.4
Marathon: two hours, two minutes, now two hours, 12 minutes. [paleo-future editor's note: Khalid Khannouchi of Morocco held the record in the year 2000 with two hours, five minutes and forty-two seconds.]

Lloyd said the ability of a runner to use oxygen had increased about eight per cent since 1930.

He added:
'There seems no reason why a similar rate of increase should not be seen for the next 50 years, particularly as the maximum capacity to use oxygen in cross country skiers has already been shown as six per cent larger than that of record breaking miler John Landy.

And he forecast that women may overtake men in sprint events. Women, he said, can use their original stores of energy faster than men.

See also:
Lunar High Jump (1979)
Sport in Space Colonies (1977)
Olympic Games on the Moon in 2020 (1979)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Magic Highway, U.S.A. Segment (1958)

Jeff over at 2719 Hyperion consistently has great analysis of all-things-Disney. Last week he posted the futuristic segment from the 1958 Disneyland TV show, "Magic Highway, U.S.A." Provided it stays up, I recommend checking out the clip because you can't find this program anywhere else.

You may remember the clips that we've looked at here on the Paleo-Future blog, including the commute as well as farm to market.

See also:
Disney's Magic Highway, U.S.A. (1958)
Farm to Market (1958)

Wernher von Braun's Space Shuttle (1950s)

These illustrations by Fred Freeman show Wernher von Braun's concept for a space shuttle in the 1950s. The illustrations can be found in the book Visions of Spaceflight: Images from the Ordway Collection.

To provide safety in case of a malfunction of the reusable upper stage - von Braun's 1950s shuttle concept - crew and passengers press buttons on their chair arms. Contour seats straighten automatically and enclosures snap shut forming sealed escape capsules. To abandon ship, the crew and passengers push another button and the capsules, guided by rails, are ejected by explosive powder charges. The arrangement is seen in cross-section.

After ejection, the capsules' descent is controlled by four-foot steel mesh parachutes. At about 150 above the ground or water, a proximity fuse sets off a small rocket that further slows the rate of fall.

See also:
Challenge of Outer Space (circa 1950s)
The Complete Book of Space Travel (1956)
General Dynamics Astronautics Time Capsule (1963)
Mars and Beyond (1957)
Man and the Moon (1955)
Closer Than We Think! Space Coveralls (1960)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Closer Than We Think! Custom-Grown Timber (1960)

The man in this May 8, 1960 Closer Than We Think! strip is injecting color into trees from a walking robot paint-mixer. Much like polar oil wells, this image certainly has a different connotation in 2007 than it did in 1960.

Today's forests simply grow. Tomorrow, this process may be speeded and regulated - as to size, quality and even color, thanks to intensive research work now under way.

The U.S. Forest Service has already developed pine trees that mature twice as fast as today's ponderosa. Rayonier, Inc., is injecting radioactive carbon 14 into trunks to affect cellulose growth. Weyerhaeuser Co. has created new ways to avoid insect damage. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports a treatment that will pre-color lumber while the trees are still growing; thus painting of wood may one day become a thing of the past.

See also:
Closer Than We Think! (1958-1963)
Closer Than We Think! Fat Plants and Meat Beets (1958)
Robot Farms (1982)
Going Backward into 2000 (1966)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Edmund G. Brown's Californifuture (1963)

Today we continue our look into the time capsule and booklet titled 2063 A.D. Buried by General Dynamics Astronautics in 1963, there is some question as to where it may now reside, as the General Dynamics Astronautics building has been torn down. Some guessed that it would be at the San Diego Air & Space Museum but my last trip to that city turned up nothing. Hopefully, this time capsule hasn't been lost forever.

The piece below by California Governor Edmund G. Brown appears on page six of the time capsule booklet.
The Honorable Edmund G. Brown
Governor, State of California

I have been asked by those responsible for placing this "space" capsule to write down my guesses about the state of man's space efforts one hundred years from this date when, hopefully, this capsule will be opened.

Most of my life has been spent as a politician. Politicians generally know very little about rockets, satellites and the other trappings of outer space.

It is their task to be concerned about inner space, the still undiscovered space of the mind and the spirit, and about whether the institutions of men on this planet create for the men they are supposed to serve the atmosphere, the psychological spaciousness, in which they can grow to fulfill their human potential.

This is the "space" about which I am concerned in 1963 as I write this statement. Even here, on ground that is much more familiar to me than is outer space, I have few predictions, but many hopes, about life on earth one hundred years from now.

My chief hope is that by the time men will have truly grasped the overriding necessity of freedom as a condition of man's continued existence: freedom from the necessity to hate as well as freedom from oppression of the mind, the spirit and the body.

I hope too that, having grasped this imperative, man, one hundred years from 1963, will have transformed his institutions into guarantors of that freedom.

See also:
General Dynamics Astronautics Time Capsule (1963)
Broken Time Capsule (1963-1997)
Lyndon B. Johnson on 2063 A.D. (1963)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Meet George Jetson (Wall Street Journal, 2007)

Jason Fry has a very interesting piece in today's Wall Street Journal about those who long for the Jetsons' version of the future. The November 15, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone also has an article about paleo-futurism, although I haven't read that one yet.

An excerpt from the Wall Street Journal piece appears below but just to clarify, there were only 24 episodes of the original 1960s version of the Jetsons. New episodes were produced in the 1980s.
I doubt the creators of "The Jetsons" ever imagined how they'd influence kids growing up in the 1970s. The last episode of the original "Jetsons" aired in the spring of 1963, but its real heyday came in syndication, with the show playing on what seemed like continuous loop in the late 1970s. Amazingly, there were only 24 "Jetsons" episodes --- it's a bit frightening to imagine how many times I must have seen each one.

And I'm not alone. Rolling Stone just released another anniversary issue, this one interviewing 25 big names about the future of the music industry, global warming, politics and the like. Turns out a fair number of Rolling Stone's famous interviewees spent their childhoods the same way I did: watching George and Jane and Judy and Elroy.

Kanye West and Bruce Springsteen would like their flying cars already. The future was "The Jetsons," George Clooney recalls -- it "meant getting into a silver costume with a ring around your neck and riding around in floating cars. It was antiseptic and perfect." Chris Rock also grew up expecting airborne cars and moving sidewalks. Mr. Clooney finds it "funny that none of it really came around," but Mr. Rock notes that flying cars aside, "The Jetsons pretty much came true. My kid even has a mechanical dog that does flips." (Who's right? I'll get to that.)

See also:
Paleo-Future in the Wall Street Journal

Take Me With You Dearie (1909)

A friend just sent me a link to Early Aviator, which has some great images of flight from the early 20th century. Some are serious photographs while others are fanciful illustrations of what aviation was to be.

Some of the sheet music imagery and titles feel like they could be part of a Mr. Show sketch. The image above is from sheet music published in 1909 by Junie McCree and Albert von Tizler, titled "Take Me Up With You Dearie."

See also:
Futuristic Air Travel (circa 1900)
Aerial Navigation Will Never Be Popular (1906)
Pears Soap Flying Machine (1906)
Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900)
Flying Bicycle (1919)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Closer Than We Think! Space Coveralls (1960)

Due to popular demand, today we have "Space Coveralls" from the March 20, 1960 Closer Than We Think! strip which ran in the Chicago Tribune.
Astronauts will need protection from dangerous radiation, temperature extremes, lack of oxygen, unusual conditions of gravity and other space barriers. Special suits to do that job are now being developed.

Air conditioning is a must. Westinghouse is now creating an individual "package" which maintains steady temperature and has a blower to circulate air. Other companies are devising roomy space coveralls with built-in ray protection and oxygen systems. One protective measure that might be included: Metallic pads on the suits - so that disabled "drifters," separated from their mother ship, can be brought back to safety with a large magnet.

See also:
Closer Than We Think! (1958-1963)
Closer Than We Think! Boytopia (1960)
Challenge of Outer Space (circa 1950s)
The Complete Book of Space Travel (1956)
Mars and Beyond (1957)
Man and the Moon (1955)
Spaceport of the Future (1957)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The End of Work (1966)

Today, we have more from the 1966 radio documentary 2000 A.D.. In this part of the program host Chet Huntley talks with Irwin "Bud" Lewis about the future of computers and leisure.
My opinion is that we're going to have to readjust our old, Puritan perhaps, concepts of what a person should do with his life. We used to believe that work was ennobling, that a man who devoted himself to hard work was in some way virtuous. Now, it seems to me, that what is required is a different attitude toward what a man should do with his life. Because there's not going to be all the jobs that used to be around.

Listen to the program here.

See also:
2000 A.D. Radio Documentary (1966)
Going Backward into 2000 (1966)
Transportation in 2000 A.D. (1966)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Closer Than We Think! Boytopia (1960)

This Closer Than We Think! strip ran in the March 13, 1960 Chicago Tribune.

Community center planners are getting ready to meet tomorrow's challenges. For proof, look at "Boytopia," the concept of the Boys' Clubs of America for the age of automation and space travel.

Such centers would teach youngsters the mechanics of space travel, solar energy and other new phases of science - just as today they are taught about auto engines, television and radio, electricity and wood-working. There would be special facilities for the handicapped, too, so that all the upcoming generation might be better fitted for the strenuous age of interstellar travel.

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

Monday, November 5, 2007

Zero-Gravity Football (1981)

This illustration of "zero-gravity football" appears in the 1981 book School, Work and Play (World of Tomorrow).
Zero-gravity football is a great sport, but it can only be played in a space colony or a space station, where there are zones in which everything is weightless. The players zoom through the air, powered by small motors in their backpacks. Laser lines mark out the field.

See also:
"Grasshopper" Golf Cart (1961)
Sport in Space Colonies (1977)
Olympic Games on the Moon in 2020 (1979)
Future Without Football (Daily Review, 1976)
Lunar High Jump (1979)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Discovering the Videophone (1970)

The photo above ran in the August 6, 1970 Daily Courier (Connellsville, PA). The last sentence of the picture's caption appears to believe that the telephone was "discovered" rather than invented. Start digging and you may discover some brand new technology, in your own backyard!
Lee Klingensmith (left), son of Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Klingensmith of New Salem Road, and Joseph Lucas (right), son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Lucas of New Salem, look at the new videophone on display at the Fayette County Fair.

The exhibit is sponsored by Bell Telephone and is entitled "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow". It shows the progress made in communications since the phone was first discovered.

See also:
Tomorrow's TV-Phone (1956)
Television Phone Unveiled (1955)
Futuristic Phone Booth (1958)
Governor Knight and the Videophone (Oakland Tribune, 1955)
Face-to-Face Telephones on the Way (New York Times, 1968)
Picturephone as the perpetual technology of the future
The Future is Now (1955)

Pacific Bell Concept Video (1991)

The 1991 Pacific Bell concept video that we looked at in pieces a couple weeks back imagines a world of communication much like that of Connections from AT&T. Parts one through three of this unnamed Pacific Bell video appear below.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

See also:
Pacific Bell Concept Video (Part 1, 1991)
Pacific Bell Concept Video (Part 2, 1991)
Pacific Bell Concept Video (Part 3, 1991)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (1993)
Flowers by Alice (1992)
Apple's Knowledge Navigator (1987)
Apple's Grey Flannel Navigator (1988)
Vision (Clip 1, 1993)
Vision (Clip 2, 1993)
Vision (Clip 3, 1993)
Starfire (1994)
GTE's Classroom of the Future (1987)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Restaurant Robots (1931)

The March 27, 1931 Lima News (Lima, Ohio) ran a piece titled, "Press the Button and Mechanical Man Will Pop Right Up With Meal." Automation, as we've seen through countless other posts, epitomizes futurism of the 1930s. Robots (a relatively new term in 1931) seemed to often be thrown in for that extra bit of flair.

The machine age is about to take command of the world's largest industry - the $23,000,000,000-a-year restaurant business. Hungry patrons will push various buttons representing items on the menu, their orders will be transmitted electrically to kitchen robots which will prepare their food, deliver it, collect the bills, and carry off the dishes.

See also:
Just Imagine (1930)
In a Cashless Future, Robots Will Cook (1996)
Closer Than We Think! Robot Housemaid (1959)
The Electronic Brain Made Beef Stew (1959)
The Future of Personal Robots (1986)
Donald Duck's "Modern Inventions" (1937)
All's Fair at the Fair (1938)
The Mechanical Man of the Future (1928)