Miracles of the Next Fifty Years
June 2, 2001 3:01 AM   Subscribe

Miracles of the Next Fifty Years -- a reprint of an article from the February 1950 issue of Popular Mechanics. At times laughably naive, other times pretty accurate (the author predicts that cancer won't be cured by 2000, but it won't be far off), it's a fun piece of George-Jetson-meets-Ozzie-and-Harriet gee-whizness.
posted by RylandDotNet (14 comments total)
Great piece!

The town planning is abit spooky though:

"The heart of the town is the airport."

It's also the famous communist system of town planning, staple of every A-level geography class.

"As a result, the framework of an industrial or office building or apartment house is an almost lacelike lattice."

He's right you know, well, about the office buildings (the nice cbd one's not out of town boxes).

"No more bouts with the razor for a man of tomorrow. He'll whisk away whiskers with a chemical solution."

is a disturbingly sensible idea!

The whole 'instant' or frozen cooking is right too. This man was a genious! I'm saving this link, thanks.
posted by nedrichards at 5:52 AM on June 2, 2001

Now this is a rocking post. Seriously. I mean that.

Well done Ryland. Very well done.
posted by perogi at 6:04 AM on June 2, 2001

Some of the things predicted are pretty correct. But what is the idea of having an airport in the center of town, exactly? Couldn't they see them moving away from the center of town as ours did around that time?

And we just love those steel houses with plastic furniture and carpet.
posted by dagnyscott at 6:39 AM on June 2, 2001

Any marked departure from what Joe Dobson and his fellow citizens wear and eat and how they amuse themselves will arouse comment.

The truest prediction of all. (And did anyone else notice the 'Orwell Helicopter Corp.'?)
posted by darukaru at 7:27 AM on June 2, 2001

Ahhh, refreshing. A link to something other than a headline or flash animation!

I don't know what bothers me more - the blind faith in nuclear power (it's not everywhere only because it's not practical) or the fact that, after 50 years, our solution to energy problems is still to dig/drill more.
posted by dchase at 7:27 AM on June 2, 2001

I want some of that candy made from old rayon underwear and used napkins. Yum.
posted by gamera at 7:48 AM on June 2, 2001

If that was really written in the 50s, it's spookily accurate.. even..

In 2000, rocket passengers may arch through space from New York to San Francsico in less than two hours.

Last I heard, this sorta stuff is in the development stages right now. I recall reading something in the paper a year ago about a plane which could do London to Sydney in just a few hours.

Of course, washing rooms with a hose is a bit of a funny idea.. and the ideas presented about city planning are very Sim-Cityesque. A lot of articles like this completely avoid the social problems that will exist in the future, and solely focus on technology.

Yes, we have the technology to have 'washable rooms'.. and I'm sure we have the technology to have cheap plastic dishes that'd melt away down the drain. However, society hasn't placed much importance upon these things, and so we've chosen not to embrace these technologies.

Already available is electronic stove which can prepare meal in 75 seconds. It may replace present ranges.

But, yes, we embraced the microwave oven :-) However, much writing about the future assumes that once a new technology comes along (like the microwave) we will discard the 'old way' of doing things.. which isn't true. I think people are still gunna be using ovens and pans for some time yet.
posted by wackybrit at 8:36 AM on June 2, 2001

Shopping by picture phone describes the web pretty well, I think.

I sure would like to buy a house for a mere $5000, even without wood or brick, and even if I did have to buy another one in 20 years.
posted by crunchland at 9:24 AM on June 2, 2001

My favorite:

"Because everything in her home is waterproof, the housewife of 2000 can do her daily cleaning with a hose."

This is a fantastic idea! Imagine the fun. You could have a food fight anywhere in the house, and it all just rinses off.

I especially like the drain in the middle of the room.

posted by davewiner at 10:09 AM on June 2, 2001

Poor old queer Mrs. Underwood, still insisting on sleeping with an old fashioned comforter. Is Mr. Dobson a peeping tom? Of course not, he wouldn't do anything his neighbors weren't doing. So they're all spying on her, the whole neighborhood, while she sleeps, snickering in the dark shadows of her old fashioned, defunct, garden of fresh vegetables.
posted by crasspastor at 10:45 AM on June 2, 2001

Come on, baby! Come to david, you lovely Future! That's right - right into my arms! Oh, baby, I love you - yes indeed I do! You're the most beautiful Future in the world, yes you are! 'Atta girl!

I love the Future. I am really looking forward to my own pesonal helicopter, in particular.
posted by davidmsc at 12:29 PM on June 2, 2001

I can do without the used underwear candy - What would they call it? Skiddles? - but it's the lack of jet packs that really pisses me off.
posted by shinybeast at 2:57 PM on June 2, 2001

We used to wash our place out like that back in college, but technology hadn't caught up to us yet. We had shallow lakes on the roof, too, come to think of it.
posted by gimli at 4:16 PM on June 2, 2001

When, oh when will science find an easier way to put a duvet in a duvet cover????
posted by ParisParamus at 6:59 PM on June 2, 2001

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