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Electronic Home Library (1959)

Remember 1959? You were just 9 years old, with not a care in the world (except maybe nuclear winter). You spread the Sunday paper out across the living room floor of your suburban Chicago home, and excitedly flipped to the funny pages. Closer Than We Think! Your favorite!

What fantastical promise from the future did Mr. Radebaugh have for you this week? Cars that run on sunshine? Tomatoes as big as Verne Gagne's head? Underseas highways to the land of godless commies? No, something even more ridiculous! A home library of electronic media! What a weird futuristic world that would be! Gosh golly, what will they think of next!

Some unusual inventions for home entertainment and education will be yours in the future, such as the "television recorder" that RCA's David Sarnoff described recently.

With this device, when a worthwhile program comes over the air while you are away from home, or even while you're watching it, you'll be able to preserve both the picture and sound on tape for replaying at any time. Westinghouse's Gwilym Price expects such tapes to reproduce shows in three dimensions and color on screens as shallow as a picture.

Another pushbutton development will be projection of microfilm books on the ceiling or wall in large type. To increase their impact on students, an electronic voice may accompany the visual passages.

Eternal thanks to my Closer Than We Think pusher Tom Z., without whom I would be living in a cold, dark world of black and white comic strips.


Previously on Paleo-Future:


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  • Response
    While using the new Flipboard app for the iPad earlier this week, I came across this really cool look back into 1959 for the perception of the home library of the future: Electronic Home Library, on Paleofuture So, first, I admit to you that I would lo...
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Reader Comments (15)

Look closely and you'll see that this strip also subtly foresees the rise of women in academia and the resulting sidelining of male brawn. Missy is eagerly working her way through the library as her proud parents beam; meanwhile Junior is staring morosely into the fire, thinking of ending it all, his athletic skills no longer needed in the modern electronic world...

July 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWutzke

There was no widespread concern about nuclear winter until 1974 ... see

July 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFred Zimmerman

re: nuclear winter, I'm an idiot.

July 14, 2010 | Registered CommenterMatt Novak

Futurism aside, I wonder how Radebaugh drew the projected-text effect on the ceiling. It looks like he used some optical technique.

July 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMatt McIrvin

How prescient! This is closer to the mark than most predictions.

July 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Warren

My dad had a book that showed a picture of a VCR from the late 50's early 60's. It looked like one of those stoves with the overhead oven attached. I guess Radebaugh was well aware of the possibilities of miniaturization.

July 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFarley

The predictions about the "television recorder" are actually amazingly prescient.

This strip was a few years before my time.The first I learned of it was on your blog,but it reminds me a lot of some of the stories that ran in DC's Strange Adventures/Mystery In Space,especially in the years before Adam Strange.If you never read it,look for an issue with a story called "The Last Television Broadcast on Earth",by Bill Finger,of Batman fame,and Sid Greene.It's one of he better examples of similar stuff.The original 1955 appearance in Mystery In Space #28,is probably a little too pricey,but the '71 reprint in Strange Adventures#228 should be fairly cheap.They also had a story,in the early 50s,about a man trying to prove himself in world run by women.

July 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

re: Roger

looking at it now, interesting how the view of "primitive TV sets" has a 50" widescreen model representing 1970. it's the spitting image of an LCD rear projection TV on legs.

August 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterrex dart

Remember 1959??? I was -26 years old. My parents weren't even born yet lol :p

But it's pretty cool to see how far we've come looking at technology then and looking technology now.

Funny comment by Wutzke about "Missy" and "Junior" lmao XD

August 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterused mig welders

Wow! I am blown away by the imagination that could create this scenario from the little that was available. I would love to know where the great minds of today are and what they imagine for the future.

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterabf123

This is too cool! I've added you to RSS feed and will add you to my links at

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRetro Hound

This amazing site I like, might frequently visit

September 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDodih danaka

@abf: they're around, undoubtedly being mocked and ridiculed.

October 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony

Wait, what are they doing with snow outside? Don't they have a local Central Weather Control like all good future American communities do?

And what's with the shield and spears over the fireplace? Where's the laser rifles?

April 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Jetson

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