History in 3D

retro photo school girl at desk with 3D plastic glasses

1944 Vintage ad Monsanto Chemicals and Plastics

A Front Row Seat to History

Long before we slipped on our anaglyph glasses to watch 3D TV or to simply view the cover illustration of this weeks New York Times Book Review, Monsanto predicted a  three-dimensional future for the classroom of tomorrow.

Thanks to post war progress, baby boomers were promised a front row seat…to history in the making.

With the help of too-wonderful-to be-believed television, history lessons would never be the same.

During WWII Monsanto fines makers of plastics and chemicals, predicted a future school where lessons would be learned on television viewed right in your own classroom, seated at your own modern Monsanto plastic laminated desk.

If you believed this ad no one would benefit from the discoveries of wartime research more  than the post war progeny of the greatest generation. This lucky generation would be the beneficiaries of all sorts of wartime research and discoveries.

Visions for the School Of Tomorrow

“No wonder Julia is wide-eyed” begins this 1944 ad for Monsanto Chemicals.

incredulously it goes on to explain:

“She is seeing her current history lesson on  school television screen….while the event actually happens…”

At a time when print, and radio were the only way to receive news, television was still a distant tease.

Four  years earlier at the NY Worlds Fair folks had  gotten a first glimpse of that marvel of technological possibilities, television, or as RCA explained it “radios newest contribution to home entertainment.”

But at the outbreak of war, all production was halted.

The Third Dimension- You Are There

Television evoked such wonderment, such possibilities it would certainly be an instrument of learning., and it wasn’t a leap of faith to imagine it’s use in school.

technology 3D movies House of Wax Movie poster

“House of Wax” 1953 starring Vincent Price was the first 3D movie in color released by a major movie studio.Early 3D films were not actually viewed through red and green lenses , the glasses had colorless polarized lenses much like what we use today. When anaglyph comics debuted in 1953 the colored 3D glasses were used.

In order to view this life-like image on the classroom TV screen, according to the ad, the student  would be required to wear “a plastic viewer that adds three-dimensional reality to the scene.”

In an odd twist these “plastic viewer”or  3D glasses did come into use by the early 1950s only not in schools  but were enlisted for use in  horror movies like House of Wax. 3D movies which were wildly success were an attempt by  panicked movie studios to compete with the new upstart television.

History in the Making

“Hard to believe? , Monsanto asked the reader of the ad.

Not in the classroom of tomorrow, where every school desk can be a front row seat to wonders that are only being dreamed of today in the laboratories and designing rooms.”

photo boy watching Oswald shot onTV

“She is seeing her current history lesson on the school television screen….while the event actually happens…” (L) 1944 Vintage ad Monsanto Chemicals and Plastics (R) Watching Lee Harvey Oswald shot live on TV by Jack Ruby. Photo from cover Esquire Magazine may 1967

In a few short decades, history lessons would indeed be learned, less in the classroom than in the dens and living room of our suburban homes  as we became eyewitnesses to history.

In less than 20 years the Kennedy assassination would be a trauma played out over 75 straight hours on RCA’s, GEs and Magnavoxes from coast to coast;, its indelible impressions burned into our collective consciousness for half a century

The horror of the assassins own murder so quick so nightmarish and so immediate would leave an indelible impression because an already traumatized nation saw it happen live on TV

Unlike the horror movies on the big screen, no 3D glasses were required.

A history lesson in American violence learned all too well, that like most history would be repeated over and over again.

“Very likely the new wonders to come will seem commonplace to Julia…”

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

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