Computer May Rule Household in 1999 A.D. (1967)

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Remember the film 1999 A.D. we looked at a of couple years ago? (I really can't believe I've been doing the Paleo-Future blog that long. That's like 14 in blog-years.) Well, the October 16, 1967 Fresno Bee (Fresno, CA) ran a piece by Desa C. Belyea about the film and its futuristic family dynamic.

Whenever talking about "ignored futures" I tend to point to this film as a great example. The future being sold includes a dazzling array of technological advances, while depicting a family with the same social and gender norms of the time in which it was created.

An excerpt, along with the piece in its entirety appear below.

The nagging wife will soon be obsolete — another victim of progress.

But if Dad thinks his days of being hen-pecked are over, just wait until he meets the new head of the household — the electronic kitchen computer.

The year is 1999. The scene: a typical American kitchen. The case: Mom, Dad and Junior. The plot: What is for lunch?

Mom goes to her automated kitchen console and presses a series of buttons. In a few seconds today's menu appears on the electronic screen.

The first one suggests consomme as a first course for all, a cheese omelet for Dad, cottage cheese and tomato for Mom and broiled chicken, mashed potatoes, spinach and mushrooms for Junior. All three get fresh fruit for dessert.

The second menu is tomato juice for all, chicken salad for Dad, a tuna sandwich for Mom and broiled salmon, broccoli and carrots for Junior. Dessert for everybody is chocolate pudding.

Dad says, "Nuts, no machine is telling me what to eat, I'm having a cheeseburger with French fries and a cold bottle of beer."

Mom consults her computer. The reply is, "Sorry, cheeseburger, fries and beer are 400 calories over allotment. Suggest you try cold roast beef, green salad and low calorie beer." Click.

And Dad scowlingly agrees. Mom presses the buttons on her console to order the meal and two minutes later the family sits down to lunch.

After lunch, Dad tries to sneak off for a nap — but, oh, no, Big Brother has plans for him. According to the health records maintained by the family computer, which each morning checks pules, temperature, weight and blood pressure, Dad needs to exercise and so off he marches, still grumbling, to do his pushups and kneebends.

Nor is there any relief in sight. After exercises comes improvement hour. First, there is the study of mathematics, space navigation and foreign languages spewed forth on tape. Then a session on culture led by the auto-composer which reproduces the sounds of all instruments and offers Dad the opportunity to compose his own music.

Finally, as Dad slumps in exhaustion, the little beep-beep reminds him that he still has his hobby projects to finish and so he trots off again, an unhappy victim of progress, as the curtain drops on Scene: 1999.

A fantasy? An impossibility? Not according to the Philco-Ford Corporation which has just completed a color motion picture "1999 A.D." in which the "House of Tomorrow" as envisioned by company engineers and industrial designers, will be displayed on movie screens in various film houses this fall and winter.

The film 1999 A.D. can be purchased at AV Geeks.

1967 Oct 16 Fresno Bee - Fresno, CA Paleo Future

Previously on Paleo-Future: