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The Future Machines of the Past

by Michael Keller

Our eyes here at Txchnologist are usually firmly set to the horizon, scanning for what the future holds. Sometimes, though, we get a kick out of turning around and seeing what the past’s modern technology looked like and how people back then thought about the future.

Today, we bring you a few good finds from the vault that capture the future machines of the past.

We start with the one above. It’s a 1947 advertisement from the Bohn Aluminum and Brass Corporation that showed the transportation of the future—presumably using Bohn’s aluminum and brass.

The next one, courtesy of the New York Public Library, shows underground moving sidewalks that were envisioned for New York City in 1903. The caption reads: “An interesting phase of New York’s transportation problem is the proposal to construct underground moving sidewalks or platforms. The first one planned, of which the details are shown in the above drawing, is to go from Williamsburg to Bowling Green, and is to connect on the way with the surface and elevated cars. The fare will be one cent, and the speed will be from five to nine miles an hour.”

The next three illustrations are from the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies.

The site’s curators write about the first two illustrations, part of a series of trading cards called “One Hundred Years Hence”: “The illustrator of these cards hypothesized that cities would be protected under cover from the elements ensuring that fine weather would be a daily occurrence; that families and individuals would own and operate their own flying machines similar to the way many of us own and operate our own automobiles; that moving sidewalks would make shopping and socializing easy; and that portable rainmaking machines would prevent future worries about drought.”

[One Hundred Years Hence. No more Droughts. Rainmaking machines at work.]

[One Hundred Years Hence. Roofed cities fine weather insured.]

[André Castaigne (1861-1929). Railroad Crossing Over New York – The Boston-Washington Limited, article illustration in McClure’s Magazine (December 1910)]

Next is another example of the always interesting, always awesome vintage Popular Science magazine cover. This one seems to feature a mass transit spacecraft taking off.

[Photo Credit: el fotografo descalzo via Compfight cc]

Here’s another from the New York Public Library’s digital collection. This 1935-1938 example, part of trading cards that came in cigarette packs, shows the television (and presumably remote undersea camera beaming live images of fish) of the future.

And one last one, circa 1865, to send you on your way, far above the Earth on a voyage to the moon:

Photo Credit: amphalon via Compfight cc

Top image: Photo courtesy amphalon via Compfight cc.

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  3. jxhn reblogged this from txchnologist and added:
    Vintage tech with a new age feel
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    Some of the ideas came true!
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    Wow this is actually pretty cool
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  20. wendelldalit reblogged this from txchnologist and added:
    Cool stuff
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