1959: Your Watt-Sucking World of Tomorrow

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Jaymi's recent post on the green-ness of a Roomba versus an upright vacuum did not mention the option of a broom; perhaps it is ingrained in us to look for the high-tech solution. Back in 1959, the Sarnoff Labs of RCA predicted a Roomba-like "Mechanical Maid" and a few other wonderful labour-saving devices, all sucking watts to make our lives easier.
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All those electronic devices didn't do much for the man of the house, but for the stay-at-home mom it was a godsend! She just gets to loll about eating chocolates.

This system will let your wife run her home by push-buttons in a few short years. For example, with this Home Electronic Center setup your wife will dial the electronic controls the night before to wake you gently to music in the morning. The system will shut the window when you get up or turn up the heat or air conditioning....

RCA engineers call this wonder system the Home Electronic Center Kid, or HECK. While your wife snoozes on, silent HECK is busy preparing your breakfast—chilled juice, hot coffee, eggs and toast—which will be served by HECK as you approach the kitchen table.

You eat in a room suffused with electronic sunshine, even in the coldest weather. A tilt-up, table-top Telefax reports world news in text and pictures while HECK clears the outside walks of snow via buried heat grids. An electronically-activated servo mechanism opens the garage doors and warms up the car.

When your wife finally gets up, HECK has already done your dishes and tidied up and will do the same for her. While she enjoys a breakfast, HECK silently sorts and washes the laundry, dries it and folds it before dusting the house by electronic precipitation.

HECK will make the beds and quietly dispose of all garbage via machinery and deep underground tanks. All your wife has to do, besides keeping pantry and freezer loaded, is insert punched menu cards to have HECK come up with a simple snack or an elaborate dinner at a pre-set time. An ingenious delayed-transmission unit stores current to run this automatic household for 24 hours in case of power failure.

So it is really no surprise that many of us can't decide which we want more; a Roomba or a Dyson, an iPhone or a Blackberry, we have been programmed that way since childhood to crave the next labor-saving device. No doubt when HECK finally hits the market we will line up for it, and the sixty nuclear plants needed to power it. Modern Mechanix also seen on Boingboing

More on the world of Tomorrow

P.J. O'Rourke on Disney's Home of the Future
Kitchen of Tomorrow from 1943
Cube Prefab by George Nelson
1939: The Electric House of the Future
1957 Frigidaire Dream Kitchen of Tomorrow- in Czech

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