Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Computersville is almost here (1970)

The November 8, 1970 Chronicle-Telegram (Elyria, OH) ran an article titled, "Computersville is almost here." The entire piece appears below.
NEW YORK (UPI) - In Computersville this day, Jane Doe presses buttons on the mini-computer in her kitchen.

She orders up a week's worth of low-calorie menus. Within micro-seconds, the machine devises such meal plans. Then it prints them.

Before she entered the kitchen, Mrs. Doe stopped briefly in the living room to admire the family's newest possession - a huge geometric print, drawn by computer.

As she goes about her chores, she is relaxed by the sounds of her favorite record, Computer Concerto. This features a musical score created by computer and orchestrated by computer. The sounds are electronic. There are blips and beeps and modulated static.

At times the sounds blend noises of a dozen jets waiting on the runway to takeoff. Altogether, it is a pleasant record.

In the afternoon, Mrs. Doe goes to her small town's medical center for her annual physical. Among other things, she has an electrocardiogram - administered by technicians, processed by computer and read, of course, by computer.

The printout on her eletrocardiogram: "Non specific T-wave changes. Possibly borderline gram. Probably within normal limits."

All of these things from the world of computers were seen at an unconventional convention in New York - the 25th National Conference of the Association for Computing Machinery.

They will come home to roost in the not-too-distant future. You probably won't have to wait until the year 2,000, for example, to have computer art and music in your home. Hospitals of the land already are experimenting with diagnosis by computer.

The menu - planning computer for the kitchen, while a bit expensive around $10,000, is available. It is designed to help keep track of financial records, lend a hand with the children's homework - and perform many other tasks.

After Radiohead's Amnesiac was released, friends and I would joke that their next record would be nothing but airplane noises. I would actually be interested in hearing that Computer Concerto record.

See also:
1999 A.D. (1967)
Frigidaire Kitchen of the Future (1957)
That 60's Food of the Future
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)
Call a Serviceman (Chicago Tribune, 1959)
The Electronic Brain Made Beef Stew (1959)
Something must be wrong with its radar eye! (Chicago Tribune, 1959)


James said...

I would actually be interested in hearing that Computer Concerto record.



Anonymous said...

Seems almost deliberately negative - like those idiots of the future will find the noise of jet engines pleasant and not be able to come up with a more accurate diagnosis than "probably within normal limits"? Yeesh.

Anonymous said...

When was Kraftwerk's first album? 1971?
I used to work at a university library that had tons of old LPs full of computer music like (and probably including) this album http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:w9fyxqudldte

So computer concertos weren't really a new idea even in 1970. That it would be popular was/is a radical leap in logic.


Anonymous said...

That mini-computer in the kitchen sounds like the Honeywell H316 kitchen minicomputer, which was brought out in 1969, did indeed cost $10,000, and apparently sold precisely zero units.

Anonymous said...

The year "2,000"? Some copy editor was not very forward-thinking when he made that "correction".

Re: the computer -- keep in mind too that $10,000 in 1970 would have been half or more of the value of an average home -- my parents' 3-bedroom cape in Minnesota cost $17,000 in 1972.

Anonymous said...

Why is paleo-futurism always focused on keeping recipes on the "household" computer? You're telling me that Mrs. Future won't have need of spreadsheets, news, or entertainment?

Anonymous said...

Sounds about accurate to me - I often look up healthy recipes on my iMac (which is in the kitchen) while I cook, also listening to music made entirely by computers. I don't know about this "printing" thing though... I've got it all - just missing the flying car!

Anonymous said...

Wutzke: The year was written like that, with a comma, on some of the old posters surrounding the burying of that Plymouth Belvedere in Tulsa in 1957. "Guess Tulsa's population in 2,007!" or something like that.

Matt: I have the album for you (assuming my image hotlink works): Sound Effects: U.S. Air Force Firepower. My dad actually owned (and still owns) a copy.

artbot said...

They're not actually made by a computer, but some albums that might match the described music are Night Passage by Alan Lamb, Rec Extern by Radian, or even some of the less melodic Biosphere stuff, like Substrata.

Unknown said...

The mention of the menu-planning computer is probably a reference to the Honeywell Kitchen Computer, abused by Val Henson here. It seems to have just been a standard Honeywell minicomputer in a weird case, advertised as a luxury item in a Neiman-Marcus catalog and possibly never sold, but the cliche of the kitchen computer as a recipe-storage machine (especially after 1970) probably owes a lot to it.