Retro Tech- Men Who Plan Beyond Tomorrow

Vintage ad technology communications illustration 1946

While thousands of new products and technologies will be shown off at the annual Consumer Electronics Show 2013 getting under way this week, I take a look back at the future technological wonders we dreamed about for the post war years.

As a forward-looking people Americans have fervently welcomed technology and invention into every aspect of our lives.

Especially during the deprivations and sacrifices of WWII , the glittering promises of a post-war world filled with unheard of conveniences and an abundance of tantalizing technological advances as presented by Madison Avenue, gave hope to a war-weary public.

To learn about the future of the past, I take a look at a series of ads run by Seagram’s Canadian Whiskey entitled Men Who Plan Beyond Tomorrow. that ran during the early post-war years.

Tomorrows Automatic Sleep Comfort

postwar promises seagrams ad art & advertising future technology

Vintage ad 1945 Seagram’s Whiskey – Men Who Plan Beyond Tomorrow

Long before Apple’s smart thermostat The Nest, the  futuristic home  heating and cooling device that anticipates your temperature needs, the  men of tomorrow envisioned automatic sleep comfort in your own home.

“Twist the dials, and one control Panel will do all this: (1) Regulate window to admit filtered cool air at night…automatically close when you awake.(2) turn on your pin-point bed light and direct its rays to wherever you want them. (3) Slide closet door out of wall and swing out clothes, for your selection. (4) Raise mattress for ease in making bed. (5) Turn on your favorite radio program. This built-in, automatic comfort is already planned for tomorrow’s homes!”

The American in the post-war, was going to live in a house built of glass, plastic and maybe a slab or two of steel or aluminum which was bought in  a department store, delivered in a van and erected in a few hours.

It was radiant heated, this house; it stayed warm in subzero winter with the windows wide open, and in the summer, by a switch of a button it would be cooled with equal effectiveness. It was a fluorescent lighted domicile that was sound proof, dust-proof, termite proof. And germ proofed ( by ultraviolet lamps).

And if it grew a little smudgy with use, its plastic coated interior could be thoroughly cleaned with a damp cloth. It had a bathroom with a built-in sunlamp, a kitchen with automatic dishwasher, automatic laundry and ultra short wave diathermic cooking controls that did the dinner to a perfect turn while the little lady of the house took in a movie at the local theatre. ( assuming movie houses were able to exist in competition with home television.)

Commuting of Tomorrow

retro trains of the future 1945

Vintage ad 1945 Seagrams

“This 120 passenger car, lighted by cold cathode, will be air-conditioned and cleansed of dust, smoke and odors by static electricity.

The load-bearing inside walls will be plastic impregnated wood with an outside skin of aluminum. Announcer system tells passenger names of stations, brings news and music.

The Office of Tomorrow

postwar futuristic office illustration1945

Vintage Ad 1945 Seagram’s Whiskey- Men Who Plan Beyond Tomorrow

In a world before Skype and computers, the work world envisioned by the copywriters in this 1945 advertisement   came pretty close.

“Electronic controls will let the executive of tomorrow revolve the center section of his office to take full advantage of sunlight streaming though the glass walls. Face to face conferences through television will be held cost-to-coast, and intricate calculations of quotas or sales by territories will be turned out at the touch of an assistant’s finger. Records will appear as if by magic from files automatically operated in the electronic age ahead.”

The man of the house was to commute to his office in  a modest helicopter that any fool could fly and that cost him no more than what he paid for his pre-war medium priced car. But if he had to drive his car into town, it really wasn’t such a bad deal. It was a featherweight job made of plastic and light metals, with a transparent plastic nose and a plastic sky view top that admitted the health giving ultraviolet rays, shut out the bothersome infrared rays and thus permitted passengers to take on a rich coat of tan without the discomfort of sunburn.

Communications of Tomorrow

postwar  communication in the future illustration 1946

Vintage Ad 1946 Seagram’s Whisky -Men Who Plan Beyond Tomorrow

In 1946 who would have imagined a world of bluetooths, smart phones, fax’s, and e-mail?  The Men of Tomorrow did…sort of.

“New wonders of speech and writing devices”

“A personal radio-telephone to connect you with almost anyone as you walk or drive. A dictating machine to type your letters as you talk into it. Coin-drop, change making facsimile machines on street corners to “accept” your handwritten telegram, and send it as is. All these by men who plan beyond tomorrow. “

Tomorrows Private Walkie Talkie

Postwar technology ad man fishing illustration

Vintage Ad 1944 Seagram’s Whiskey Men Who Plan Beyond Tomorrow

“When you’ve caught your creeful of trout in a stream miles from anywhere, you can reach your wife by your personal, portable radio-telephone…ask her to invite the neighbors for dinner….”

“Then driving home in your car, you can tell her just what time to expect you!…Fantastic? The portable radio telephone is already in use by our Armed Forces. Today’s weapon, tomorrows convenience!”

Motorola had provided the army with Walkie Talkies so it was a natural assumption that they would catch on with the post war civilian. It would be several decades before the ubiquitous cell phone entered our daily lives.

Now texting, tweets await the men who planned beyond  tomorrow.

 Enjoy Top News and Sports Events as You Dine

Vintage ad future technology TV 1946

Vintage Ad 1946 Seagram’s Whisky- Men Who Plan Beyond Tomorrow

“Tomorrows box seats for the things you don’t want to miss can be your favorite restaurant, where, on full screens, the game is covered in sight  and modulated sound, play by play. Full color television will bring you highlight news…the pageantry of parades…the performances of great stars. All on screens so placed that you can enjoy every scene without shifting your position.”

And now in the comfort of our faux leather booth while dining at  Applebees we never have to miss an episode of Duck Dynasty!

 Fresh Food Anywhere…Anytime

vintage ad 1946 future transportation

Vintage Ad 1946 Seagram’s Whisky- Men Who Plan Beyond Tomorrow

“Aerial freight trains of Tomorrow, a string of gliders towed by an air cargo plane, will fly fresh fruits, vegetables and regional delicacies from the south and far West, direct to winter-bound states. Each glider carries 2 tons, the mother ship 6, and safe landings will be assured through ground radio control.”

The Men who planned beyond tomorrow obviously weren’t locavores nor concerned about their carbon footprint.

Copyright (©) 2014 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved


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Electronics a New Science for a New World

Back to the Future- Retro Tech for the Suburbs

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