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Entries in housework (19)


In a Cashless Future, Robots Will Cook (1996)

The January 24, 1996 New York Times ran an article titled, "In A Cashless Future, Robots Will Cook." An excerpt appears below. You can read the entire article here.

It's a typical day in the year 2006. After a hectic afternoon of negotiating contracts with business partners in Hong Kong, London, Moscow and the Bronx, you step from your office and into your kitchen. What's for lunch? You press a hand on your personal diagnostic machine, and quicker then you can say Michael Jackson does Sinatra, the unit checks your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight-fat ratio and reads out your nutritional requirements. Up pops suggested menus.

Kitchen robots quietly go to work moving ingredients from a "smart" refrigerator that is built into a microwave oven. A minute later, out rolls a garden salad with dill dressing and an open-face pork-roast sandwich on wheat -- no crust. After lunch, you return to your home office to finish some business in South Africa. If you're done early, maybe you can squeeze in a movie: "Gone With the Wind" you reconfigured with Bruce Willis as Rhett Butler.

For much of human history, talk of the future was relegated to the musings of self-described prophets, astrologers, dreamers and fools. But as the world lurches toward the 21st century, futurism is being taken more seriously by more people. Experts of all stripes are studying the patterns of the past and present, trying to project tomorrow. Forecasts of what might be spill out of corporate boardrooms, government offices, magazine stands, talk shows and bookstores like a bubbly brew.

See also:
1999 A.D. (1967)
Call a Serviceman (Chicago Tribune, 1959)
Something must be wrong with its radar eye! (Chicago Tribune, 1959)
The Electronic Brain Made Beef Stew (1959)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)


The Electronic Brain Made Beef Stew (1959)

Today we have the thrilling conclusion to the September 13, 1959 Chicago Tribune article, "Call a Service Man: This Cry Will Still Be Heard in Year 2000."

For lunch we eat scrambled eggs, prepared manually. Following lunch, still a bit unnerved by the sight of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches sticking to the ceiling, I accidentally dump garbage in the dishwasher and dispose the dishes in the garbage disposal unit.

Obviously, the wisest plan - at least for the remainder of the afternoon - is to sit down and read that science fiction thriller. However, as little things continue to go wrong all day, I am kept busy calling service men. Consequently, when my husband comes home that evening, the place is swarming with them.

"It's late," my husband says, glancing at his watch. "Maybe we'd better invite them to stay for dinner."

Seeking to ease the strain on the weekly food budget, I decide to select something economical. Beef stew seems a wise choice. "Let's see," I murmur while pressing a button, "we'll need 24 servings."

The electronic brain comes up with 48 servings of beef stew. Some are on plates, some aren't.

Automatically my husband says, "Call a service man."

"How can I?" I shout hysterically. "They're all here."

See also:
Call a Serviceman (Chicago Tribune, 1959)
Something must be wrong with its radar eye! (Chicago Tribune, 1959)


Something must be wrong with its radar eye! (Chicago Tribune, 1959)

Part two of the September 13, 1959 Chicago Tribune article Call a Serviceman: This Cry Will Still Be Heard in Year 2000 offers more paleo-future goodness. To bring you up to speed, our housewife of the future has just heard the yelps of her poodle Fifi as it is being attacked by the futuristic vacuum cleaner.

By the time I'm back in the house, the cleaner, having finished its job on Fifi, has scooted back to its cubbyhole in the baseboard.

"I think," my daughter says, "you'd better call a service man."

The vidiphone (telephone combined with television) signals for attention. A neighbor's face comes into view. Scowling, she says, "Your lawnmower is cutting all the flowers in my garden!"

"O, dear! Something must be wrong with its radar eye!"

"Yes," my neighbor agrees. "It needs glasses!"

I call a service man. It seems the logical thing to do. Afterwards, I sink into a chair and pick up a book.

A door slams and my son comes in, announcing, "I'm hungry."

"I'll get something," my daughter volunteers. (That's what's so wonderful about the pushbutton age - everyone is willing to help with the work.) "We'll have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches," she proclaims, pushing a button.

We wait, nervously, while the electronic-brain goes to work.

Guess what - peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! Only, instead of serving them on plates, the electronic brain tosses the sandwiches upward. They land on the ceiling.

Stay tuned for part three of this riveting tale of domesticity.

See also:
Call a Serviceman (Chicago Tribune, 1959)


Call a Serviceman (Chicago Tribune, 1959)

In the September 13, 1959 edition of the Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine Evelyn Zemke wrote an amusing piece about her vision for housewives of the future. Below is an excerpt from the first part of her story.

"Call a service man," my husband always says when one of our appliances refuses to function.

Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? Well, it is. At the very worst, probably only the washer, dryer, dishwasher, and TV would give up one day. But what about the housewife of the future - say of the year 2000, when the electronic era will be at its peak?

I can just picture myself in her place - ready to start another care-free day sitting around reading a science fiction thriller while the gadgets do all the work. Already the electronic brain in my kitchen is busy preparing and serving breakfast.

My husband, arriving at the table exclaims, "Pizza? For breakfast?"

"I pushed the button labeled BACON AND EGGS, but-"

"There's a wire crossed somewhere. Call a service man."

After doing so, I dispose of the garbage in the electronic disposal unit and pile the dishes in the ultra-sonic dishwasher. Then, After pushing the button which starts the electronic vacuum cleaner, I go out to the garage to set the timer for our radar controled lawnmower.

"Ki-yi-yi!" Sounds like Fifi, our pet poodle.

My daughter, standing in the doorway, calls, "Mom! The cleaner is vacuuming Fifi!"

See also:
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)


The Future of Leisure That Never Arrived (New York Times, 2007)

In yesterday's article by Hal R. Varian, (a professor of business, economics, and information at UC-Berkeley), we see that over the last 100 years, society has been convinced technological and social progress would bring about vast amounts of leisure time.

"When you account for the much longer time in school, the more or less constant amount of time spent on housework, and make a few other adjustments, hours spent on purely enjoyable activities haven’t changed that much in the last century. Keynes may have been right that future generations will have a lot of time on their hands, but I wouldn’t bet on that happening anytime soon."

See also:
What to do with all this leisure time? (1966) 22 Feb 2007

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