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What the future looked like way back when

By: Laura Moss on May 7, 2012, 1:22 p.m.
Dining Room Of The Future At Olympia In London

Photo: 1956 interpretation of a future dining room (Keystone-France/Getty Images)

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Home life

Homes in the 21st century were expected to be dramatically different places. In 1966, Arthur C. Clarke wrote in Vogue magazine that houses would fly by 2001 and entire communities would head south for the winter or relocate simply for a change in scenery. Meanwhile, Mechanix Illustrated thought all homes would be assembled from prefabricated modules, allowing homes to be constructed in a day, and building materials would be self-cleaning, so no paint or siding would ever chip or crack.

But perhaps the greatest home achievements would take place in the kitchen, where even if “kitchen robots” aren’t serving us, meal preparation is still much easier: “The housewife simply determines in advance her menus for the week, then slips prepackaged meals into the freezer and lets the automatic food utility do the rest.” While meals aren’t exactly prepared like this today, the 1968 article did get our disposable culture right: Meals are “served on disposable plastic plates. These plates, as well as knives, forks and spoons of the same material, are so inexpensive they can be discarded after use.”

It was also predicted that we would see great advances in refrigeration technology, with homes that could keep large quantities of food fresh for a long time. This technology would also allow us to enjoy foods from around the world: “Fast-flying refrigerators will bring delicious fruits from the tropics within a few days. The farmers of South America, whose seasons are opposite to ours, will supply us in winter with fresh summer foods which cannot be grown here."