1939: The Electric House of the Future


O, the future. Where we get to live under power lines and mainline all the juice we need. Complete with electric mood control. Yet compared to many visions of the future, this one gets a lot of things right:

Microwave Ovens

"The time may come when we shall use short-wave radio frequency to cook our food. In fact, Westinghouse research engineers have succeeded in cooking hams in a radio frequency field in forty minutes as compared with four to six hours normally required to cook them with steam. Of course this is only a laboratory achievement today, and it is too early to say that it will prove practical in general application. But it has distinct advantages. Ham cooked by steam loses up to ten per cent of its weight, while radio cooking dissipates only three and one-half per cent."

Kitchen Appliances:

"Before electricity and planning reached the kitchen, the average homemaker walked 125 miles a year preparing meals. Studies show that in an ordinary kitchen it takes from 200 to 325 steps to prepare a single meal, but with the advent of electricity and planning, kitchen mileage was cut seventy-five per cent, a saving of ninety-five miles, or about the distance from New York to Philadelphia."


VCRs and TIVO

"Of course the future home will be equipped with both radio and television. No one can foresee the possibilities of television. It may change our whole concept of entertainment and move the amusement centers of Broadway and Hollywood right into our living rooms. The home of tomorrow no doubt also will be equipped with some electrical means of recording news reports and pictures as soon as the news happens."

Grow-ops

"Still other lamps may be made to keep the plants of future soilless farms at work day and night with only minimum rest periods. The scientific farmer or the amateur gardener may simply turn on a switch and flood his plants with light. This will necessarily be a different kind of light from that used in reading lamps, for plants utilize principally the blue and red wave lengths of the sun’s visible spectrum in getting their energy of growth. This lamp would concentrate on the production of these two specific wave lengths."


Electrostatic precipitators:

"Even now the Precipitron, an electrostatic air cleaner, is at work in homes, offices, hospitals and factories, literally electrocuting dust and dirt out of the atmosphere. This job of ridding the air of dust is one worthy of a Hercules, because as many as 10,000,000 individual particles of smoke and dust have been counted in a single cubic foot of air in one industrial city, and an average city ordinarily has between 500,000 and 2,000,000 particles to a cubic foot of air. The Precipitron, however, eliminates more than ninety-five per cent of such air-borne particles by charging them with electricity and then drawing them off to oppositely charged collector plates. Housewives will appreciate what this means in keeping rugs and curtains clean."

Heat Pumps

"Most people are familiar with the operation of electric refrigerators, but few realize that this refrigerating process can be reversed to heat their homes. The future may possibly see wide use of this unsuspected heat source. Utilization of cold outdoor air to heat a building is not at all impossible."

Alas, they didn't get everything right:

"In 1928 the average residential power user consumed 460 kilowatt-hours of current a year and paid an average of six and six-tenths cents per kilowatt-hour. In 1938 he used 850 kilowatt-hours and paid only four and two-tenths cents per kilowatt-hour. This saving has been made possible by increased efficiency in the production and distribution of electric power.....Against the reality of such figures and achievements, one dares not place any limits on the possibilities of electricity in the future." ::Modern Mechanix

TreeHugger on houses and kitchens of the future:
New House of the Future Coming to Disneyland
It Was Fifty Years Ago Today: Monsanto House of the Future
Wayback Machine : A House of the 21st Century- From 1954 : TreeHugger
Wayback Machine 1968: What Will Life Be Like in 2008? : TreeHugger
The Kitchen of the Future, 1967
1957 Frigidaire Dream Kitchen of Tomorrow- in Czech : TreeHugger

Tags: Electricity | Wayback Machine

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