The Home of the Future: Year 1999 AD [VIDEO]

Here is an interesting short film I found on Youtube recently. Originally released in 1967, the short film “1999 A.D.” was released by the Philco-Ford Corporation for their 75th anniversary and it predicts the future of technology in the home. These videos are always a lot of fun to compare how close the predictions are to real life. I also enjoy seeing the retrofuturist visions of technology, especially from the 1950s and 1960s.

Check out the video and I’ll recap some of my favorite of their predictions below.

The video starts with a quaint beach scene of a mother and son (and some disconcerting horror-movie music), to set the time and also the new modular homes of the future. Kind of an odd opening, especially with such a dramatic reveal of what the year is. I don’t know how this film was originally presented to consumers, but I imagine they had some idea what they were getting themselves into.

Home of the Future: Electronic Workbench
When we go back home, we meet this father who uses an electronic workbench to pull up photographs saved in the central home computer. It’s very similar to the PCs of 1999, except the central computer is massive and takes up its own module in the home.

Home of the Future: Wall TV Screen
The house is, of course, outfitted with a wall-sized TV screen, used to watch videos as a part of the child James’s education in the “Education Center.”

Home of the Future: Education on a Computer
James also has a “teaching machine” which looks similar to PCs you would find in the late 90s, so they’ve definitely got that prediction right. He also uses a similar–but different!–PC looking machine to watch cartoons.

Home of the Future: Kitchen Computer
The mother of this family, Karen, seems to be a stay at home mom. Luckily she has her own computer in the kitchen to help her with the task of managing meals for the family. Check out the menu for Tuesday. I guess Mom is on a diet?

The two screens above are for video chatting with her husband and son who are elsewhere in the house and pretty demanding about what they have for lunch. The computer has a nice feature where it monitors everyone’s calorie allotment for the day and recommends roast beef as an alternative to a cheeseburger for Dad.

Cooking seems to be an easy task at least, which involves pushing a lot of buttons and then dishing the food out and taking it to the table. They predict that at the turn of the century, most food will be frozen and in individual portions. With Lean Cuisine and other frozen dinners, I’d say they were right on the money with that prediction.

Home of the Future: Finance and Banking Computer
Dad has another computer, which he uses to monitor their finances and keep tabs of all the things Mom buys on her computer (which displays images from her favorite stores so she can order things with the click of a button). He also has an “electronic correspondence machine” which allows him to hand write a letter that will be electronically sent to the receiver. But, of course, this is a separate machine from the computer that does the finances.

Home of the Future: Medical Couch Body Scanner
One prediction that definitely hasn’t come to fruition is the home health center. While many people have fitness equipment in their homes, we don’t have the medical couch that scans your body as a part of a preventative health analysis. It then provides a recommended exercise routine to maintain ideal weight.

Overall, this is a very interesting vision of the future home. A lot of the predictions are very close to technology we had by 1999, including personal computers, frozen dinners, and online shopping and banking. It was interesting to see how they thought we’d need to have a separate computer console for each task, rather than one home PC like many homes had in 1999. And now we can do all of those things on our phones. It’s a nice look back at the past, especially because the clothing and the furniture aren’t too futuristic, so it still has that late 1960s feel.

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Artist Spotlight: Eric Joyner’s Robots and Donuts

People who know me well know two things about me: I love retro robots and I love sweets. So when I started to see these fun paintings of robots and donuts on my Pinterest feed I had to find out who was behind them. A quick Google search revealed they’re by Eric Joyner, and this amazing pop art is his specialty.

Pandora's Box by Eric Joyner
Pandora’s Box by Eric Joyner

Eric’s quirky and fun art is sure to catch anyone’s eye with the anachronism of personified robot tin toys and larger than life donuts. But where do these kinds of ideas come from?

Little Genius by Eric Joyner
Little Genius by Eric Joyner

Eric talks about it at length on his website, but the summary is this: after many years of painting he made a decision in 2000 to paint only things he enjoys. The most popular of those paintings were the ones featuring tin robots. After a couple years, he felt the paintings were good but were missing a nemesis. When watching the movie Pleasantville, where Jeff Daniel’s character paints a still life of a donut, something clicked.

Fog of War by Eric Joyner
Fog of War by Eric Joyner

Not all of his paintings feature donuts, but the theme of vintage toy robots is consistent throughout. Their appearance inspires a nostalgic feeling in a lot of the paintings, especially when they feature vintage imagery of yesteryear.

Fall Outing by Eric Joyner
Fall Outing by Eric Joyner

Eric lives in San Francisco where he actively paints, holds events, and shows his work in local galleries. His art is available online for purchase on Imagekind. His website features an extensive gallery of his work. Check him out on Facebook, Twitter, or his website.

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Temporary Hiatus: Heading to San Diego for the Summer

So if you come by regularly, you may have noticed that one thing that isn’t regular is my posting.

So a funny thing happened, a little over a month after launching this site, I was accepted into the Clarion Writer’s Workshop for this summer. This was my first year applying and I didn’t actually think I would get in, so I didn’t hesitate to launch this site. What a happy surprise!

Of course, that means I am crazy busy getting everything in my life in order to attend and while I’m in San Diego (from mid-June until August) I will have absolutely no time to dedicate to outside projects. So this means I need to go on a slight hiatus.

However, once I am back in August, I hope to get on a regular posting schedule. In the meantime, if you want to be notified once I’m back and posting again, I would recommend liking The Retrofuturist on Facebook.

For now, I will see you in the future (hopefully they’ll have consumer jetpacks sussed out by then).

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Artist Spotlight: Indelible Ink Workshop’s Retro Scifi Prints and Posters

Night Rocket Oribital Lunar Nightclub Poster
Buy Night Rocket Retro Poster on Etsy

Indelible Ink Workshop is run by the couple Luke Minner and Naomi Wilson. Together they create beautiful wall art and posters, including vintage reproductions and original art pieces in art deco and art nouveau styles.

Explore Poster
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Vintage Scifi Classic “The Runaway Robot” Back in Print!

I was so excited when I found out this weekend that the classic science fiction book The Runaway Robot by Lester Del Ray is back in print. This is one of the first scifi novels I read as a kid, and may explain my general obsession with robots, especially the idea of a sentient robotic companion. This book has been out of print for years and I’m thrilled to see it’s available again for young scifi fans to enjoy.

runawayrobot
Original cover from 1965 by Wayne Blickenstaff. Source.

The story is about a boy named Paul who has been raised with a robotic companion called Rex. Rex’s main role is to be a protector for Paul on the moon of Ganymede, but they become inseparable friends. When Paul and his family are called back to Earth they have to leave Rex behind. The robot’s bond with Paul is so strong that Rex decides to stowaway on the ship, and that’s when the adventure begins.

I actually have an original copy from 1968 that was a hand-me-down from my father (same cover as above). This story influenced me so much as a young reader that I took the book with me when I moved away to college, and it’s still displayed proudly on my bookshelf. I prefer the original cover art by Wayne Blickenstaff to the new edition. Many of the chapters also have some lovely vintage black and white art.

If you can find a copy of the original printing, I highly recommend it for the beautiful vintage art.

A fun factoid: the novel was actually written by Paul W. Fairman, based on an outline by del Rey.

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The Incredibles – Retrofuturist Review

A little background on what the Retrofuturist reviews will be: I don’t consider myself a critic, so these reviews will more focus on how the book, movie, TV show, etc. embody retrofuture elements or execute the retrofuturist genre and what I generally think about the piece. So here we go:

I had never seen Disney and Pixar’s 2004 film The Incredibles before last week. This is insane because 1) I love Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant and 2) I love Pixar. However, I’m not very interested in superhero or comic book movies in general, so the plot never really grabbed me. But after seeing some of the architecture and interior design of the film online, I decided I wanted to check it out.

Note: There may be some spoilers to follow, so if you’re like me and it takes you over a decade to watch a movie, be warned.

livingroom incredibles
Bob and Helen’s retro-furnished living room.

The Incredibles is about Bob and Helen Parr and their children Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack, who are “Supers” (humans with superpowers) trying to live bland suburban lives and hide their superpowers from a world that disapproves of them. Bob (the former Mr. Incredible) is completely dissatisfied with his new life, until he receives a message asking him to take on a secret mission to destroy a malfunctioning robot. Eventually he discovers this is all the evil plot of the super-villain Syndrome.
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A Kickstarter Project You Should Support: Save the Scifi

One of the reasons I started this blog is to preserve visions of the future from yesteryear and also to support and highlight others with the same mission.

Singularity & Co. saves vintage books that are out of print and languishing into obscurity by tracking down the copyright holders, getting their blessing, and then digitally preserving fabulous vintage science fiction stories for future generations.

Right now Singularity & Co. have a successful Kickstarter campaign running with about two weeks lefts. This is their second campaign after their original campaign two years ago that allowed them to publish 36 ebooks and open a bookstore in Brooklyn.

rescued scifi books

Their current campaign aims to raise money to rescue even more vintage scifi books. The campaign has already exceeded the original $15,000 goal, and for every $10K beyond that goal, they will archive an additional 10 books.

This is a great project with fantastic rewards at the $10 and $25 levels to receive some of these rescued scifi classics. If you enjoy vintage science fiction and love reading, consider supporting this awesome project.

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Feminine Hygiene for Lady Astronauts

I hate feminine hygiene ads. Modern ones are ridiculous and vintage ads are cringeworthy. But I discovered half of this ad on Pinterest today and I was so intrigued that something so epic was ever created and published in magazines that I had to find out more.

kotexlady1

This lady is fierce. She is an astronaut. She is a pioneer. She has fabulously styled hair. Ain’t no period gonna hold her back in her advancement in a male dominated field.

And then I found the other half of the ad.

kotexlady2

Her friend is less adventurous: a DJ heading to spin some discs at a retro-future themed rave.

I understand why the first image is the most shared of this vintage two-page advertisement, with the courages space-age styled astronaut and less repetitive use of the word “napkin”.

Click to view the full ad
kotex-ad-full-size

Source

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1950’s Flying Car of the Future

More power to you!

This vintage advertisement from 1958 features a vision of your personal flying car, and if you’re still waiting for this one with bated breath, don’t worry they’re working on it!

1958flyingcar

The advertisement, paid for by American’s Independent Electric Light and Power Companies, brags about how electricity will play a part in the higher standards of living thanks to the technology of the future.

One of their predictions is right on the money, since now children can “dial a library book, a lecture or a classroom demonstration right into your home–with sound.” (I don’t know that kids are much more interested in doing homework though.)

The rest of the predictions have not panned out: dishes washed without soap or water! Beds made at the touch of a button! And of course, the Jetson-style flying saucer car that plugs into any electric outlet for recharging.

See the full size ad at the source

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14 Vintage Scifi & Fantasy Covers Where Women Aren’t “Damseled”

damselbanner

We already know I’m a huge retro-scifi fan, but one of the things that irks me the most about vintage magazine and book covers is how often the women on them are portrayed as “damsels in distress”. They’re often falling victim to evil robots, scary space monsters, or clothing that just won’t stay on their busty bodies.

Although those sexist images are the ones that most often come to mind when you think of pulp stories of yesteryear, there are some glorious vintage covers that feature ladies as more than a trope.

The Conquest of the Moon Pool

conquestofmoonpool
Buy an original copy of the magazine.

From “Fantastic Novels” September 1948, we get this interesting cover illustration by Lawrence Sterne Stevens for the story “The Conquest of the Moon Pool” by Abraham Merritt. Who the blonde woman in the Marylin Monroe-style dress on the cover is I don’t know, but it’s evident she’s in charge with her laser-gun and her army of toad-like creatures from the center of the earth. [Source]
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