Back in 2007, I wrote a science fiction novella called "The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrrow," about an immortal, transhuman survivor of an apocalypse whose father is obsessed with preserving artifacts from the fallen civilization, especially the Carousel of Progress, an exhibition that GE commissioned from Disney for the 1964 World's Fair in New York, which is still operating in Walt Disney World.
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Toronto's Metro Reference Library is hosting a Retro Futures exhibition until July 28, filled with exhibits from the collection of the Merril Collection (previously), the largest science fiction reference collection in any public library in the world.
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NASA's groovy imagining of space settlements were put in the public domain in 2007, and now space antropologist Michael Oman-Reagan has shared these remarkable hi-res scans created by David Brandt-Erichsen. Read the rest
In 1999, Dad will use his three-panel home computer to help him with his hobby of grafting fruit trees, Junior will watch his science lessons on a giant flat-screen TV and take quizzes on another computer (with a keyboard that has a bunch of paired X-Y buttons only), and Miltown-pacified Mom will take lunch orders from surly Dad and Junior through a video intercom and prepare the weekly meal plan with an AI health-conscious menu assistant piped in through a 110 baud connection to her three-display computer. It's easy to make fun of everything they got wrong here, but the thing they got right is how dependent we've become on interacting with screens all day and night long.
From YouTube description:
1999 AD was a film created by Philco in 1967. It was intended to celebrate the company's 75th anniversary by showing how electronics were going to change how Americans would live in a short 32 years... 1999 AD talked about other things in the future than just computing. It discussed things we'd recognize today as big screen plasma TVs, microwave ovens, and frozen food. Some of the things it didn't get right were the flying cars, modular homes, and the basic culture.
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This summer, the Barbican is mounting Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction. As part of that, they will be displaying some rare Soviet-era sci-fi collectibles from the seminal Tekhikia – Molodezhi magazine, according to a great overview by It's Nice That. Read the rest
From Paul Di Filippo: "Our glorious domestic undersea future, as depicted in an ad sponsored by "Investor-Owned Light and Power Companies" in the issue of LOOK for May 14, 1968." Read the rest
Lynx Art Collection has some fun retro-future space posters in their collection, like this one titled Astronaut Hang Time. They also have a bunch of cool travel posters, like this one for Mars: Read the rest
Here's the AKAT-1 from Poland, "the first transistor-based differential equation analyzer, from 1959."
AKAT-1 is an analog computer. Back in the 1960s, this approach offered speed and acceptable accuracy without the complexity of digital logic. The result was a device that could solve relatively complex differential equations in real time, as long as you weren't after precise values. Alas, time has passed it by and it now leads a life of leisure at the Museum of Technology (Muzeum Techniki) in Warsaw, Poland.
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In this brief clip from the March 12, 1967 episode of the CBS show The 21st Century, Walter Cronkite shows us a home office from 2001. Aside from the clunkiness of the equipment, this 49 year old video is very prescient.
"With equipment like this in the home of the future we may not have to go to work – the work would come to us," Says Cronkite. "In the 21st century it may be that no home would be complete without a computerized communications console."
Watch the full episode here, which has some far-fetched and whimsical contraptions in it, and a cool Moog soundtrack:
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The Tale of Tomorrow: Utopian Architecture in the Modernist Realm collects photos and commentary about the mid-century heyday of utopian architecture, from Paolo Soleri's Arcosanti to Bangladesh's National Assembly Building. Read the rest
This 1987 video from Apple imagines a future world in 1997 made richer and more wonderful by all the sweet Apple products Apple was going to build. Read the rest
From Shorpy: "Anne Anderson in Whirlpool 'Miracle Kitchen of the Future,' a display at the American National Exhibition in Moscow." Kodachrome by Bob Lerner for the Look magazine article "What the Russians Will See." Read the rest
If your mental image of futuristic human colonies in space involves tubular ships, rolling hills, and a population seemingly plucked from a cocktail party in Sausalito in 1972, chances are good that you've been influenced by the art of Rick Guidice and Don Davis — illustrators commissioned by NASA to envision human homes among the stars. At Discover.com, Veronique Greenwood writes about these artists and the lasting impact they've had on science and science fiction. Read the rest
Matt Alt in Tokyo, following up on a recent BB post about a 1979 American view of the future, shares this wonderful scan. He says:
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This is 1969's view of 1989! It's from Shonen Sunday Magazine, a weekly comic compilation. Beautiful, groovy art. Hey, at least they got the "Roomba" right (even if they were off by a few decades!)
Sure, it's fun to post old pages of mid-century science magazines and make fun of the predictions that never came true—flying cars! Weather control!
But it's equally, if not more, enjoyable to read predictions for things that actually happened. These are the things that remind us that the world we live in today is pretty goddamn amazing. Teacher Michael Poser sent me one such prediction that he and his students found in The Science Year Book of 1947, a sort-of proto-aggregator that compiled reprints of stories in science magazines. This quote came from a Scientific American article entitled "Microwaves on the way":
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In peacetime microwaves are slated for an even more spectacular career… Private phone calls by the hundreds of thousands sent simultaneously over the same wave band without wires, poles, or cables. Towns where each citizen has his own radio frequency, over which he can get voice, music, and television, and call any phone in the country by dialing. Complete abolition of static interference from electrical devices and from other stations. A hundred times as much “space on the air” as is now available in the commercial radio band. A high-definition and color-television network to cover the country. And, perhaps most important of all, a nationwide radar network to regulate all air traffic and furnish instantaneous visual weather reports to airfields throughout the land. By such a system, every aircraft over the United States or approaching it could be spotted, identified and shown simultaneously on screens all the way from Pensacola to Seattle.
Vintage Ads group participant write_light has posted a fantastic gallery of Charles Schridde Motorola "House of the Future" ads, along with some interesting background on the series:
The artist who painted these gems is Charles Schridde (who just passed in May of this year). These ads and other vintage television ads can be had (at Amazon for an astonishing low price of 30¢, not a typo) in the book Window to the Future: The Golden Age of Television... by Steve Kosareff. Further ad paintings by Schridde are HERE and HERE at Paleofuture.com
CONTEST ENTRY: Motorola's House of The Future Read the rest