Friday, February 29, 2008

Closer Than We Think! Weather Control (1958)

This Closer Than We Think strip about weather control appeared in the June 22, 1958 Chicago Tribune.
In years to come, there will be satellite equipment for forecasting - as well as controlling - the weather.

The effects of air and humidity masses can be calculated more precisely from above. Sunspots, solar rays and other space disturbances will be more easily observed and studied. And sensitive sighting and analysis devices will make long-range predictions highly accurate.

Control of weather is the next step. In the words of Dr. I. M. Levitt, Director of the Fels Planetarium at the Frankline Institute: "In time, huge solar mirrors five or more miles in diameter may be used to reflect radiation of the sun to specific areas on earth to increase evaporation and to prevent crop-killing frosts."

See also:
Foolproof Weatherman of 1989 (1939)
Communities May Be Weatherized (Edwardsville Intelligencer, 1952)
American Version of Postcards Showing the Year 2000 (circa 1900)
The Coming Ice Age (1982)
A Wonderful Day to Fly (1980)
Glenn T. Seaborg's 1989 (1964)
Lyndon B. Johnson on 2063 A.D. (1963)
Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900)
What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years (Ladies Home Journal, 1900)
Space Colony Possible (The News, 1975)
Solar Energy for Tomorrow's World (1980)

We'll All Be Happy Then (1911)

This image, from a 1911 issue of Life magazine, was drawn by Harry Grant Dart and features the farcical technologies of the future. To see pre-R.U.R. images of personal, robotic servants is extremely rare. Dart never ceases to amaze with his tremendous wit, vivid imagination and biting social/technological commentary.

The image can also be found in the book about the 1984 Robot Exhibit in New York.

See also:
Futuristic Air Travel (circa 1900)
Picturesque America (1909)
Much-Needed Rest (1903)
The Robot is a Terrible Creature (1922)
R.U.R. (1922)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Future "Brotherhood" (1976)

Carl T. Rowan wrote a piece which appeared in the July 3, 1976 Stevens Point Daily Journal (Stevens Point, WI) titled, "Sees hatred yet a century hence."

Rowan covers issues of racism, eugenics and elitism in the century leading up to the United States tricentennial. The piece appears below in its entirety.
GALAXY SPACE STATION (July 4, 2076) - At least 120 children and a spaceship driver were laser-beamed to death yesterday when Galaxians resorted to violence to try to prevent the spaceshipping of school children here from the predominantly black Stardust Space Station a few thousand miles away.

The above may strike you as a highly unlikely news story to mark the celebration of America's tricentennial. But it sums up what I see as I honor a request from Portland, Ore., that I look into my crystal ball and peek at human relations a century from now.

The people of 2076 (if any survive) will have made scientific progress so incredible that millions will have liberated themselves from Mother Earth and her finite resources such as water, food, petroleum, coal. But they will only prove that while humans get smarter they don't grow wiser.

Those who become the new pioneers, seeking a richer life on space stations beyond our polluted atmosphere, will be burdened by hatreds, prejudices and fears as old-fashioned as those that bedeviled Americans in the days of Jefferson Davis and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Racism, chauvinism, snobbery, greed will still dominate human affairs despite incredible developments in genetic engineering - plus chemicals and new surgical techniques designed to control the intellect, and modify the behavior, personality and mood of 21st century man and woman.

The truth is that, in seeking to alter genes, chromosomes and every other basic element of human life so as to create a super race - and who is superior intellectually, morally, physically. Those deemed inferior will find their families doomed to vanish in one generation. By 2076 only the elite will be permitted to procreate, and even then under carefully monitored circumstances.

Blacks wound up predominant on the Stardust Space Station, in fact, having escaped to this outer-space refuge when rumors spread that genetic engineers had ordered the extinction of all the "inferior blacks." According to the descendants of a couple of 20th century "scholars," William Shockley and Arthur Jensen, blacks and other "minorities" were pulling down the intellectual quality of the whole human race.

Remember, now, this is the crystal ball reporting.

Believe me, if I could influence the crystal ball I'd show you a 2076 society in which people ranging in color from goat's milk to double chocolate finally find mutuality of respect and a sense of love that gives them a kind of security no cruise missiles and B-1 bombers will ever provide.

But every time I shake my crystal ball and say, "Don't be absurd! Even a species as dumb as homo sapiens will find a way to free itself from bigotry in 100 years," that crystal ball flashes backwards two or three centuries to prove otherwise. I see Christians and Moslems killing each other, as now. And Germans and Frenchmen in conflict generation after generation. And Catholics and Protestants in brutal conflict that no passage of time erases in places like Northern Ireland. The Jew-haters of a millennium ago sounding just like Spiro Agnew. Racial violence in Boston in 1976 arising from passions of bigotry no less intense than those that spawned a riot in Wilmington, N.C., 78 years earlier, or in Atlanta 70 years before.

That crystal ball keeps contradicting all sorts of things that I have written. More than 24 years ago, in my preface to "South of Freedom," I wrote; "I do not believe that man was born to hate and be hated; I cannot believe that the race problem is an inevitable concomitant of democratic life."

That crystal ball flashes into 2076 and tells me that in 1951, or is it that I [now] have an old crystal ball which is disillusioned, clouded with pessimism, unable to see man's potential for rising up next to the angels?

See also:
Future Shock - Skin Color (1972)
The Tricentennial Report: Letters from America (1977)
Lisa's Picture of 2076 (1976)
Tricentennial Report Ad (Oakland Tribune, 1976)
Animals of 2076 (1977)
21st Century Eugenics (1967)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Syd Mead Art for U.S. Steel (1960s)

Professor Michael Stoll has posted an amazing collection of promotional art Syd Mead did for U.S. Steel.

Prof. Stoll posted the Syd Mead images to the (Boing Boing Gadgets/Paleo-Future Blog) Flickr Group, In the Year 2000. The entire set of images can be found in the Portfolio of Probabilities photoset.

One thing that is interestingly absent from the illustrations is any clear indication of a flying car.

Brian Horrigan, co-author of Yesterday's Tomorrows was kind enough to recently lend me a 1961 U.S. Steel book titled Innovations, which contains similar work by Syd Mead. Stay tuned for more on that.

See also:
The Future World of Transportation
Syd Mead
Rhapsody of Steel (1959)
Rhapsody of Steel Film (1959)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Movie Theater of the Future (1930)

The August 3, 1930 Syracuse Herald (Syracuse, NY) ran the above article about the movie theater of the future, complete with robot staff.

Titled, "Television Soon Will Flash Talkies Through the Ether; Theater of the Future Will Receive Its Films From Afar," the piece opens by explaining how a single man at a central control booth could beam movies, via television technology, to multiple theaters miles away. The accompanying illustration shows a man opening and activating theaters throughout New York state.

The caption below our robot hosts reads, "Vic Lambdin, Herald staff artist, sketches the Syracuse theater of the future, operated by robots and automations, and [receiving] its talkie programs by television from a distant master station."

The analysis of economic forces behind the move to "talkies" is fascinating. And the feeling that a move to television on the big screen is inevitable is also intriguing given the fact that most people had never even seen a television set in person at that point.
Much the same economic factors that forced the motion picture industry to climb on the talkie band wagon will compel the adoption of television, this may be later . . . but more likely it will be sooner.

See also:
Thinks We'll Do Our Reading On Screen (1923)
Movie Trends of the 21st Century (1982)
How Experts Think We'll Live in 2000 A.D. (1950)
"Just Imagine" Pictures Life and Love 50 Years From Today (1930)
Robots vs. Musicians (1931)

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Ballad for the Fair (1964)

In 1964 Bell System produced a film about the New York World's Fair, which highlights the history and future of communications. Of course, the future of communications would not be complete without the eternal promise of picturephone.

A clip of the film, including a look at the Bell System ride, appears below. You can watch the entire film at the Older Than Me blog.

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)
Discovering the Videophone (1970)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Santa's Reindeer Out of Work (1900)

The December 22, 1900 Duluth Evening Herald (Duluth, MN) ran this illustration of the 20th Century Santa who, naturally, uses a flying machine. Those poor reindeer, now out of work, have been replaced by machines.

No old-fashioned reindeer for him - he skims over house tops in a flying machine.

Twentieth Century locomotion alone appeals to good St. Nicholas. Reindeer were all right for him a few years agone, but now he demand the swiftest of automobiles. There is something fine in this conception of the good old man making the rounds on the last Christmas of the century.

See also:
Latest Type of Flying Machine (1901)
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)
New London in the Future (1909)
Collier's Illustrated Future of 2001 (1901)
Flying Machines (circa 1885)
French Prints Show the Year 2000 (1910)
Pears Soap Flying Machine (1906)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Latest Type of Flying Machine (1901)

The May 10, 1901 Lincoln Evening News (Lincoln, NE) ran this illustration of "the latest type of flying machine."
A model of the very latest form of flying machine, shown in the accompanying illustration, is now on exhibition and has proved quite successful, being perfectly dirigible and easily controlled. As a flying machine of this type costs only $10,000, it is possible that wealthy Americans will soon be flying about in private aerial cars as tehy now speed over the county in their automobiles. "Own your own flying machine" will probably be the advice of dealers in "aerials" in the very near future.

This machine is the invention of M. Gaudron, a Frenchman, who claims that in this perfected "aerial torpedo boat" 100 feet long five passengers can be carried at a speed of 30 miles an hour. It will be driven by petroleum motors, with propellers, and the lifting power is hydrogen gas.

See also:
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)
New London in the Future (1909)
Collier's Illustrated Future of 2001 (1901)
Flying Machines (circa 1885)
French Prints Show the Year 2000 (1910)
Pears Soap Flying Machine (1906)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Farmer Jones and the Year 2000 (1956)

The Independent Press-Telegram magazine, Southland (Long Beach, CA) dedicated their entire November 4, 1956 issue to "You and the Year 2000." The section about farming appears below.

The most odd scenario depicted is one in which an H-bomb actually makes crops grow better. The entire article by George Serviss, entitled "Anyone for a Garchidrose?" appears below.
Farmer Jones stepped to a small black instrument panel at the rear of the air-conditioned plastic "bubble" in which we sat, my wife seated beside me - I had brought her along to write the woman's angle of this interview with a Year 2000 farm family for "Atomic Life." We had just come up a ray-powered elevator from the family's spacious bomb-and-fungus-proofed, solar-conditioned subsurface quarters. We were surveying his fields.

Farmer Jones pressed a button marked "Activator." There was a slight hum and a cylinder rose in the field a few feet beyond the clear plastic wall. A door opened in the cylinder and a robot, closely resembling a 1956 man, stepped jerkily out into the field.

"I must apologize for my hired hand," Farmer Jones said lightly, "Since full parity prices have been removed from our crops, I haven't been able to afford a newer model. But, he has served me well. A couple of new tubes and a paint job will tide him over for another year or two."

Farmer Jones was now operating a small lever that projected from a squarish box that stood up from the floor. The lever seemed to swing around a 360-degree circle and, as I watched, I could see that this was the control for the robot. I turned back to the field to watch development. I'd already asked about the quality of his crops.

The robot moved swiftly now, under Farmer Jones' guidance. "Carrot, perhaps?" queried Farmer Jones. "Or a turnip; perhaps a tomato?" he asked, turning the robot this way and that in the rows that could be seen beyond the plastic. There was very little foliage to mark the rows, produce being grown these days for the edible roots and fruits with a minimum of green waste. Chlorophyll derivative sprays replaced greenery, as I had already observed in my extensive farm and garden writings.

Perhaps we should have a leaf or two of spinach, too," Farmer Jones commented, steering the robot on another course to a green section of the field into which the machine almost totally disappeared, so tall was the vegetation.

"I'll bring the man in now," Farmer Jones said, and guided the robot to a belt conveyor box which projected beyond the bubble. "Haven't been out in the fields since we were H-bombed in the last war," he said. He laughed ruefully, "Don't think it would be healthy," he said, "still 'hot'; but you'd be surprised what that bombing did for the soil. Things grow like crazy; and the robot doesn't mind a bit sowing the seeds and keeping the place up."

The impromptu harvest came tumbling into the bubble - through a radiation trap. Farmer Jones explained. "They're safe to handle now," he said, and pressed a "Deactivator" button that left the robot hired-hand standing at attention. The humming stopped.

The vegetable were all that Farmer Jones had previously boasted that they would be. Carrots three feet long. I took a sample nibble of one; cleaned and completely sanitized by passing through the radiation trap. It was delicious. So was the turnip, four feet in diameter and as tender as butter. I carved a chunk with my electronic pocket incisor and passed it to my wife who has always had a penchant for raw vegetables. She exclaimed with delight at its flavor.

The giant tomato, fully as large as a regulation basketball, gushed red juice of tantalizing aroma when I pricked the skin with my incisor.

The spinach leaves were far larger than palm fronds, but I have persisted in a childhood aversion for this delicacy. I merely examined the leaves for texture.

"No sand," commented Farmer Jones," and the flavor is very similar to lemon squash. All the old-time vitamins, though."

We chatted on crop prospects and the market outlook while Farmer Jones sent his man after a handful of cherries, which were chilled by dry ice in the hands of the robot before they reached us. One apiece was more than enough Farmer Jones asked:

"Would your wife like to have a nice, fresh corsage? I've something new I've just perfected."

He dispatched the robot on another guided errand. The corsage that was deposited on the conveyor belt was, indeed, "something new."

"I call it 'garchidrose'," Farmer Jones said. "I've combined gardenia, orchid and rose in one, together with fern, to grow a complete, multiple-flower corsage on one plant. It does need a bit of ribbon," he apologized, "but I haven't found the way to grow the ribbon yet!" My wife was delighted.

We turned to leave.

"By the way," I said. "These vegetables of yours; they must be very high in vitamin content."

"They are, they are," he said. "Extremely so."

"They you must be a very healthy man," I said.

"Me? Oh no; I never eat them. No roughage for me. I have ulcers. I'm strictly a cottage cheese and pill man, myself."

See also:
Closer Than We Think! Fat Plants and Meat Beets (1958)
Farm to Market (1958)
Robot Farms (1982)
Farm of the Future (1984)
Superfarm of the Year 2020 (1979)
That Synthetic Food of the Future (Ogden Standard-Examiner, 1926)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Closer Than We Think! Push-Button Staff Room (1959)

The May 24, 1959 Chicago Tribune ran this Closer Than We Think strip about the war room of the future.
In the event of another war, military actions will be directed from secret, mechanized nerve centers. Ever since 1952, the Signal Corps', "Project Michigan" has aimed at the objective - to develop push-button devices that can give the top planners an immediate grasp of all situations, wherever located.

World-wide television (it's possible now, says Bell Telephone Laboratories) will provide two-way communication to battlefields. All conceivable kinds of data - concerning men, supplies, needs - will flash at bullet speed from film cabinets such as those lately installed by Kodak at the Pentagon. The result will be a near-instant analysis of problems, and computer-machine decisions whenever the generals want them!

Next Week: Probing Venus

See also:
Closer Than We Think! (1958-1963)
Will War Drive Civilization Underground? (1942)
Our Friend the Atom (Book, 1956)
After the War (1944)
Memory of 'Tomorrow' (New York Times, 1941)
Gigantic Robots to Fight Our Battles (Fresno Bee, 1934)
Pictures Stately Edifices (1923)
Looks for Era of Brotherhood (1923)
Poison War (1981)
Word Origins: Imagineering, continued (1942)
Nazi Paleo-Futurism (1941)
No Shooting War Before Year 2000 (1949)

Monday, February 11, 2008

James B. Utt on Space Travel (1963)

California congressman James B. Utt wrote a short piece for the time capsule book 2063 A.D., which was buried in 1963.

The honorable James B. Utt first says that he could not even make an uneducated guess as to the future of space travel but then, in true politician form, makes one anyway. His contribution appears in full below.
The Honorable James B. Utt
Congress of the United States

Your request with reference to a prophecy for your space capsule, I can only say that I do not have a Buck Rogers imaginative mind and could not even make an uneducated guess. The cost of escaping gravity will probably always curtail any commercial space travel, but the time will come when the scientists will be able to change the molecular body system and reduce the weight to zero and reconstruct the molecular system at any place and any time. Travel will then be as rapid as the mind can conceive. Personally, I do not look forward to this with any sense of enjoyment

You can find the book 2063 A.D. listed here on Amazon but I wouldn't count on copies becoming available anytime soon. Only 200 copies were printed and distributed to various universities.

See also:
General Dynamics Astronautics Time Capsule (1963)
Broken Time Capsule (1963-1997)
Lyndon B. Johnson on 2063 A.D. (1963)
Edmund G. Brown's Californifuture (1963)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Rhapsody of Steel Film (1959)

Last week we looked at the children's book version of the 1959 industrial film, Rhapsody of Steel.

Today, thanks to Kevin Kidney and the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive, we can view the entire film.

The last four minutes of Rhapsody of Steel envisions a futuristic world where steel is king. That clip appears below. A special thanks to Rob B. for the link.

See also:
Rhapsody of Steel (1959)
Man and the Moon (1955)
Mars and Beyond (1957)
The Future was Built on Steel
Wernher von Braun's Space Shuttle (1950s)
Animal Life on Mars (1957)
Plant Life on Mars (1957)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Home Entertainment of the Future (1981)

This image from the book Tomorrow's Home (World of Tomorrow) by Neil Ardley illustrates the home entertainment system of tomorrow.

This section's most interesting prediction may be that, "the magazines, books, records, tapes and television sets we now have will begin to disappear. But in their place the computer will offer us a greater range of entertainment."

The two page spread's text appears below in its entirety.
Look at this play of the future - a performance of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar by famous actors in your very own living room! Even more amazing, you play the title role yourself. The play has just reached the point where Caesar is killed.

All this could come about with developments in holographic video - a system that uses laser beams to produce images that have depth just as in real life. Once perfected, it will produce a show that takes place not on a screen but in real space - even around you. You could walk in and out of the action, and view it from any direction - the ultimate in realism. In this case, the computer that operates the system has been instructed to omit the role of Julius Caesar so as to allow you to take part. Although the images look so real, you could walk through them, so you suffer no harm from your killers' knives.

Such developments may lie far in the future, but there's no doubt that the computer is going to affect home entertainment soon. The magazines, books, records, tapes and television sets we now have will begin to disappear. But in their place the computer will offer us a greater range of entertainment.

The home computer will be linked to a radio dish on your roof. A satellite or radio mast feeds it with many television channels; on the viewscreen of the computer, you can sit and watch the news or sport in several other countries as well as your own. The radio dish or telephone wires also link your home to computer complexes that feed it with all kinds of recorded entertainment - films, television shows you have missed, video magazines and news. Music comes through the computer too, playing whatever you want and whenever with a quality far beyond today's records and tapes. If you want to read something on your own, a portable screen linked to the computer displays any story of your choice.

See also:
Movie Trends of the 21st Century (1982)
Living Room of the Future (1979)
Thinks We'll Do Our Reading on Screen (1923)
Learning in 1999 A.D. (1967)
Tomorrow's TV-Phone (1956)
Closer Than We Think: Headphone TV (1960)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

William H. Boyes Monorail (1911)

This image of the William H. Boyes monorail is from 1911 and can be found in the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. The Monorail Society has a description of the monorail which appears below.
This test track was built and demonstrated in 1911 in the tideflats of Seattle, Washington. The rails were made of wood and track cost was estimated to be around $3,000 per mile. A bargain! The Seattle Times commented at the time that "the time may come when these wooden monorail lines, like high fences, will go straggling across country, carrying their burden of cars that will develop a speed of about 20 miles per hour." Like so many inventions, lack of financial backing prevented further development.

See also:
X-20 Monorail Toy (1962)
Frederick & Nelson Ad (1962)
Closer Than We Think! Monoline Express (1961)
Amphibian Monorail (Popular Science, 1934)
Monorails at Disneyland (1959 and 1960)
Like Earth, Only in Space . . . and with monorails (1989)
600 Miles An Hour (1901)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

R.U.R. (1922)

This photograph of the play R.U.R. is courtesy of the Billy Rose Theatre Collection, New York Public Library of Lincoln Center and appears in the book Radical Robots.

See also:
The Robot is a Terrible Creature (1922)
The Mechanical Man of the Future (1928)

Monday, February 4, 2008

No Shooting War Before Year 2000 (1949)

The December 28, 1949 Berkshire Evening Eagle (Pittsfield, MA) ran a story titled, "No Shooting War Seen by Toynbee Before Year 2000." The article in its entirety appears below. You can read more about Arnold Toynbee at Wikipedia.
LONDON (UP) - Professor Arnold Toynbee, 60, one of the world's foremost historians, predicts the "cold war" with Russia will not become a shooting war until the year 2000 at the earliest.

The author of the six-volume "Study of History" said the cold war probably would be fought in Asia for the next 50 years - because communism has been contained in Europe - and that a "shooting war is not inevitable within the next 50 years."

"The aims of the two principal parties in the cold war, Russia and the Western powers, are better served by a cold war," Toynbee said. "I would be extremely surprised if either party resorted to a shooting war."

Toynbee said Russia had received two setbacks during the past year - Berlin and Yugoslavia.

"Both were victories for the Western powers," he said. "Berlin especially so because it did not develop into a shooting war."

See also:
How Experts Think We'll Live in 2000 A.D. (1950)
Will War Drive Civilization Underground? (1942)
The Fearless Futurist (New York Times, 1968)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Rhapsody of Steel (1959)

Many readers sent me a link to these great images from the ASIFA - Hollywood Animation Archive site. The images are from the children's book adaptation of the 1959 industrial film, Rhapsody of Steel.

While I haven't yet found a copy of the film online, you can view the film at the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area in Homestead, Pennsylvania. Their description appears below.
WONDERS OF STEEL (showtimes 11:00 am & 1:30 pm) brings steel making to life through music and animation in a masterpiece, Rhapsody of Steel (1959). Produced by John Sutherland, the film features Gary Merrill as the narrator and three-time Academy Award-winner Dimitri Tiomkin conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony in his own composition. An exhibit case holds the original press release, promotional images and other artifacts documenting the United States Steel Corporation's release of this 23-minute film.

See also:
Man and the Moon (1955)
Mars and Beyond (1957)
The Future was Built on Steel
Wernher von Braun's Space Shuttle (1950s)
Animal Life on Mars (1957)
Plant Life on Mars (1957)