Hot tip from 1979: the living room of the future will be filled with computers

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From the book "Future Cities: Homes and Living into the 21st Century," 1979, by Kenneth William Gatland and David Jeffries.

Source: v.valenti's Flickr stream, via the Boing Boing Flickr pool.


  1. It seems that computer manufacturers have gotten with the program, and produced everything we see in the picture, albeit in a smaller, even more sophisticated form. Wish we could say the same thing about fashion designers

    1. I don’t know why “futurists” dress people up in tight super-hero type costumes.

      However this illustration from 1979 is rather prescient of the track suit fashion statement that bloomed in the 1980s and still hasn’t died out completely. Sure track suits were not as tight and generally not worn stuffed into white boots but otherwise down to the colors and leg stripe it is fairly spot on.

      From Denny: history (tracksuit):

      In 1964, Adidas began to produce tracksuits as leisure wear.  …  tracksuits were plain dark-coloured garments used exclusively as sportswear.

      The emergence of tracksuits as a fashion item began in the 1970s. Suits from firm gloss nylon jersey were produced, jackets and trousers being narrowly cut. During the early 1980s an early type of fleece/ cotton mix was used instead of gloss nylon jersey cloth in some cases. They were generally in dull or muted colours, as well as several shades of grey.

      In the 1980s, tracksuits became popular as leisure clothing.[1] A completely new kind of tracksuit appeared, intended for jogging rather than warming up. This consisted of two weights of fabric: a light, silky exterior resembling parachute material consisting of nylon or polyester, and lining made from a lighter, often net-like, textile. These were often available bearing panels and flashes of many different colours, and were commonly known as shell suits.

      Although they were at first mostly worn by athletes, in the 1980s tracksuits became increasingly fashionable as leisurewear, though jackets and trousers tended to be worn separately rather than as a suit.

    1.  Actually, that guy’s stylish red suit is fapping for him as we watch. Poor sod has a football fetish. And his roommate is taking IR photos of the couple next door. Really, that future is just full of this sort of thing. Kind of makes you long for a ruined landscape roamed by fallout mutants.

  2. You know, this is pretty spot on except they got the sizes all wrong.

    And the aesthetics, but c’mon, it was the seventies. That brain area was deadened by disco.

  3. It’s the future, yet the soccer player on screen looks vaguely Cro-Magnon?

    At least in the future, they still have bananas.

  4. They totally called it.

    What they didn’t mention was that half the computers in the living room of the future would be either broken, obsolete or partially disassembled, and that there’d also be two printers (one of which prints everything in a funny shade of cyan because the black cartridge has run out), an oversized TV that a former roommate left behind when he moved out, and a scattering of mobile phone chargers, none of which work with any mobile phone currently owned by anyone who lives in the place.

    But maybe it wasn’t my living room that they had in mind.   

    1. This book blew my mind, and introduced me to the concept of a Dyson sphere. I also had the companion volume on transport. I distinctly remember the sentence that said that shuttle flights would be a daily occurrence by the mid-80s. And the elevator that went from the equator to the moon!

      1. I had these books too but I barely remember the details.  Did they really suggest an elevator to the moon or was it just a space elevator to a geosynchronous station?  Because even with the relative naivete evident in those pages after all these years I’d be surprised if they made the mistake of thinking the moon would be locked in geosynchronous orbit any time in the near (or remote) future.

    2. My school had about half a dozen of this series of books, and I loved them all.   I tried to buy copies of them (well, I asked my mum to buy them) at around the time I left, probably 1988,  but there were only three of them still in print.  Such tomes of imagination food…

  5. We zoomed past that future about 10 years back.  Now the computer that does *all* that stuff in my living room is a second-hand Mac Mini connected to a big LCD screen.

  6. Wow, neat, I had this book too! Kind of a punched-in-the-gut feeling, kind of a nice one.

  7. Think of the “Jumpsuits” as “sweeatsuits” and it works.  Remember for awhile in the 80’s and 90’s you’d   see many people wearing them every where

    1. You obviously don’t live in the UK.  They’re still everywhere here.  It’s hideous.

  8. “A just machine to make big decisions

    Programmed by fellows with compassion and vision

    We’ll be clean when their work is done

    We’ll be eternally free yes and eternally young…”

  9. I can’t wait — Apparently every living room comes with a built-in sniper, and that George Best re-animation project seems to have worked a treat.

  10. Holy shit!  I’m pretty certain I had that book when I was a kid.  I think you may have just solved a mystery that has been plaguing me for a few years…

  11. I loved the ‘Electronic Video Camera’ not needing film, just ‘Tape!’  Ahh, the future.

  12. I think the one thing this article got most wrong is the idea that living rooms of the future will all still have *carpet*!  Blech!
    Not only does it not predict the aesthetic movement away from carpeting in general, but specifically the revolution in synthetic and naturally sustainable flooring is not even on their radar.  Which I find interesting.
    Carpet!  My mom gave me permission to pull the wall-to-wall shag carpeting out of my bedroom when I was a teenager (circa 1990 – it was thick with gerbil litter that the vaccuum cleaner could not reach) and there was beautiful oak flooring underneath; I pulled yards of hideous pink carpeting out of my flat when I bought it (2010) and found plenty of mouse droppnigs underneath.  Carpet!  Blech!

    1. My house has carpet in the living room, everywhere but the kitchen and bath. Don’t most people still…use…carpet?

    2. Hm. We’ve got carpet in two rooms, made from nearly 100% sheep’s wool. On concrete. No mouse droppings there, I’d wager. No gerbil litter either.

  13. Part of me says, “Oh my God, we actually have BETTER versions of all those things!  The future is awesome!” And another part of me says, “I’d trade all those things for a robot to come bring me a drink right now.”

  14. Ick, I would never keep my computers in a “living room.” What next, cow shit all over the lawn, again?

  15. There are a bunch of computers in my living room. My three teenage daughters are all doing something with their iPods or smart phones, two of them sharing earbuds to hear the same song, the third is talking on her cell phone as well. Older sister came over with her laptop to use our wifi. All four are keeping one eye on the TV the whole time. Yeah, I’m on a computer, too, but not in the living room.

  16. 4 and 1/2 out of 6 ain’t bad. (the 1/2 is the idea that email would be autoprinted at its destination).

  17. This got me thinking about the difference between truly envisioning the future, a la Jules Verne, and just  taking existing trends and extrapolating them.  Feeling this is more of the later, though no less cool and fun to look back at.

  18. Keen! I had one of those books when I was a kid. “The World of the Future: Robots”, if I recall correctly. I wish I could find copies again.

    I pretty much looked my copy to pieces.

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