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Entries in push-button (17)


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)


Henry Ford's Machine Men (1924)

The evening edition of the December 5, 1924 State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) ran a short article about Henry Ford's automated vision for the future. It was titled "Machine Men," and the author laments the hustle and bustle the automobile has produced. The author calls "pish-posh" on Mr. Henry Ford and his projections of life with less work.

The article is transcribed below in its entirety.

Where is Henry Ford going to land us? asks Arthur Train in The Forum. His ambition is to build and market a hundred million automobiles so that every child will have one. His "vision" is for a world where everything is done by machines. His perfect man would press a button by the side of his bed and find himself automatically clad, fed, exercised, amused, and put to bed again. Thirty minutes' work for each of us a day would be enough, he says, to keep civilization going. Pish-posh, Henry! Does anybody suppose you would stop until you'd eliminated the necessity for all work whatsoever? Of course you wouldn't! When you rearranged everything so that the human "robot" can sit on his front porch and talk to another "robot" friend a thousand miles away on his eye glass string, mow his farm in Mongolia and milk his reindeer in Nova Zembla by wireless, hear and see what is going on upon the other side of the world by looking at a shirt stud, transport himself thru the air on a broomstick, and kiss his wife and best girl by radio - will he be any better off? Before we had motors in New York I used to go down town in a rattling old surface car that took half an hour; but now in your cabriolet, even if you've reduced the price $590.65 F.O.B. Detroit, it takes an hour. Have I gained anything? Somehow I feel as if I'd lost a little of my liberty. I don't want a nickel-plated stomach or an oxydized liver. I don't want to sit in one place and be artificially respirated and exercised, in order to keep my blood in circulation. I like to work. I like to earn my bread by the sweat of my brow because it makes me hungry to do it that way. For if, Henry, everything is done for us, what eventually are we going to do?

See also:
Gigantic Robots to Fight Our Battles (Fresno Bee, 1934)
Robots: The World of the Future (1979)
The Mechanical Man of the Future (1928)
The Robot is a Terrible Creature (1922)


After the War (1944)

Associated Press Woman's Editor Dorothy Roe included a poem in her 1944 article about the kitchen of the future. I found the article in the March 20, 1944 Charleston Gazette (Charleston, West Virginia) and the poem is transcribed below.

After the war . . .
We'll just a press a button for food or for drink,
For washing the dishes or cleaning the sink.
We'll ride in a rocket instead of a car.
And life will be streamlined . . .
After the war.

After reading the entire article, which we'll look at later this week, you can tell that Roe attempts to put the hopes of post-war America into perspective and let people know that we may not be headed for a push-button future after all.

See also:
1999 A.D. (1967)
Call a Serviceman (Chicago Tribune, 1959)
Something must be wrong with its radar eye! (Chicago Tribune, 1959)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)
'Summer Terrace' All Year Round (1960s)


This Machine Records All Your Thoughts (1919)

The June 8, 1919 Syracuse Herald (Syracuse, New York) featured a great article about mind-reading machines that would be commonplace in the office of the future. Oddly enough, they still needed stenographers to type out the correspondence. Why couldn't the man simply verbally dictate his thoughts to a typist? That is a question for the paleo-future to which we may never have an answer. The entire article is shown below.


Outer Space Furniture (1964)

OFFICE FOR OUTER SPACE features chairs with push-button comfort control and walnut-topped desk which is anchored to the floor.

Boing Boing just turned me on to the news photography archive of the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Daily News, run by UCLA. It has an amazing collection of photos from a vast array of categories and decades. The picture above is from the June 22, 1964 Los Angeles Times.


Disney's Magic Highway, U.S.A. (1958)

On May 14, 1958 the Disneyland TV program ran an episode called "Magic Highway, U.S.A." It examined the past, present and (paleo)future of transportation. The 2719 Hyperion blog has a great breakdown of the episode.

Below is a short clip of the episode as well as some paleo-futuristic still images. Many thanks to Paul at Waltopia for the video.


As father chooses the route in advance on a push-button selector, electronics take over complete control. Progress can be accurately checked on a synchronized scanning map. With no driving responsibility, the family relaxes together. En route business conferences are conducted by television.


I really wish that Disney would release this as part of their Walt Disney Treasures collection. (Maybe an entire DVD devoted to Disney paleo-futurism?) Better yet, they could offer every Disneyland program on iTunes or use an advertising-based model. I know that Disney likes to make their offerings scarce through limited release DVDs, but the free flow of information just breeds piracy if "legitimate" copies aren't made available.

I'll get off my soapbox now. Enjoy.

See also:
The Future World of Transportation
Walt Disney Explaining the Carousel of Progress to General Electric (1964)
EPCOT's Horizons
Tomorrowland, Disneyland Opening Day (1955)