Oh, The Miracles You’ll See: The View from 1950

Serendipitously, given recent topics, I came across a post at How To Be A Retronaut reproducing a 1950 article in Popular Mechanics titled, “Miracles You’ll See in the Next Fifty Years.” I’m unable to reproduce the images here, so you’ll have to click over to take a look. Here is some of what you’ll find:

In the realm of “not far off the mark if you squint,” there is the prediction that you’ll shop by a kind of television like picture-phone which also allows for business men to tele-conference. The Internet gives us something in the ballpark.

Related to the city-centered vision of the future, take a look at the images on the first couple of pages. The city’s layout itself is part of the vision. It is composed of a series of concentric rings connected by roads that slice up the city like a pizza. The inner ring is dense and urban and the outer ring is suburban and green.

Related to housework and labor saving devices, and this is really the best thing in the whole article, “Because everything in her house is waterproof, the housewife is 2000 can do her daily cleaning with a hose.” There was, in case you are wondering, a drain in the middle of the room. Oh, and speaking of drains, you’ll also be glad to know that plastic plates will make cleaning up a breeze since they’ll melt under hot water and just float down the drain.

Men, we can look forward to the end of shaving with a razor since we’ll be take care of our facial hair with a “chemical solution.” But you’ll get personal helicopters to make up for it.

Interestingly, while they predict that wrinkles will be merely a sign of neglect, they play it rather safe on the matter of health. The life-span will be 85, which is just about right, and cancer will not have been eradicated even though progress will have been made. They are also optimistic about the possibilities of electrical treatments to help control neurological disorders.

There is much more besides, but here is the closing:

“It is astonishing how easily the great majority of us fall into step with our neighbors. And after all, is the standardization of life to be deplored if we can have a house like Joe Dobson’s [the fictional man of 2000], a standardized helicopter, luxurious standardized household appointments, and food that was out of the reach of any Roman emperor?”

Ah, the virtues of standardization.

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