Monday, June 13, 2011

The future from the past

I've written about this subject more than once, how we Americans viewed the future during or directly after World War II. It was a time of optimism and the wonders of fast moving technology.

It seemed every magazine, Sunday supplement and newsreel, got into the game of predicting the future. As the war drew to a close in 1945, some advertisers in Life magazine pitched their products as postwar vision. Belmont Radio, who to that time had not put a television up for sale on a furniture store floor, was capitalizing on what was sure to be the Next Big Thing. In the ad they show the television as furniture, very ornate, but fitting into the overall decor. Belmont finally got its televisions on the market in 1947.

Even though Belmont quit making televisions in 1957, at least they made them. Goodyear never got into the floating hotel business, as they advertise in this beautifully illustrated double-page ad from another issue of Life. Goodyear still uses its blimps for advertising purposes, but as for a fleet of airships cruising leisurely through the oceans of air, that was a non-starter. The Hindenburg tragedy was still fresh in peoples' minds. Also, Goodyear's most likely misjudgment was that in the postwar world there would be such a need for speed. People take ocean cruises still, but for wholly different reasons than for travel.

The future, as envisioned during World War II, was to be an era of technological wonders, and we certainly have those. But many things promised to the public in 1945 just weren't practical and didn't progress much past the dream state.



Kirk said...

Nobody seems to have predicted the jet aiplane as means of peacetime travel.

El Postino said...

I agree, Kirk. Maybe at the time they thought of it as being strictly military.