February 2, 2015 by Leave a comment

If you’re still holding out for a hoverboard, we have some sad news for you: people are really bad at predicting the future. Of course, it’s never stopped anyone from trying. Here are 3 predictions for the home that never quite worked out:

disney-house-of-the-future-1000x6811. Plastic Everwhere.

From 1957 to 1967, Disneyland was home to The House of the Future, a model 1986 home made almost entirely of plastic. That means plastic walls and plastic floors. Even the furnishings were mostly plastic.

Of course, the fact that it was built and sponsored in part by Monsanto, a company that was a leader in the plastics industry at the time, probably had something to do with it. At the time, plastic seemed like a miracle material: cheap, durable, and easy to clean. So easy to clean, in fact, that a few years earlier in 1950, New York Times columnist Waldemar Kaempffert wrote a Popular Mechanics article where he went so far to suggest that in the future, you would clean your house by hosing down the inside.

As you can guess, though, all that plastic never quite caught on. They were, however, very right about one thing. Disney’s version of the House of the Future was so durable that when the time came to demolish it in 1967, the wrecking ball barely made a dent.

2. Food in Name Only

food_pill_conquestIf you’ve had any exposure to science fiction over the years, you’re probably familiar with the concept of food pills. As early as 1885, people were predicting that chemists rather than farmers would eventually feed the masses.

As to the specifics, people were all over the map.. Waldemar Kaempffert, the man who wrote the earlier Popular Mechanics article, predicted that food, even soup or milk, would come in frozen bricks that would take seconds to prepare (admittedly, he did also think that discarded “rayon underwear [will be] bought by chemical factories to be converted into candy.” So.) And along with the moon landing, freeze-dried, concentrated foods became, briefly, the food of the future. Some kitchens were even designed for the tasks of re-hydrating.

Of course, we know now that these options are either biologically unfeasible or just kind of gross. The average person probably won’t choose a pill over a pizza, no matter how easy it is.

3. Flying Everything.

9781588168221_a143-mdnHomes, cars, bicycles, skateboards (too soon?)–they’ve all been the object of countless predictions but very little actual progress, which suggests that those predictions are less science and more wishful thinking. In the 50’s and 60’s, many futuristic model homes came equipped with hangars or landing pads for the travel of the future.

Though we’re not necessarily closer to getting the flying vehicles we were promised, there have been some developments using magnets. A company called Hendo has in fact developed something that could be considered a hoverboard, though it’s application is pretty impractical for the average person.


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