Jack Fletcher’s House of the Future
In 1954, 23-year-old Jack Fletcher showed off his new home to the media. Reporters called it the "house of the future" because of all the unique features he had designed into it. The windows closed by themselves when sensors felt rain. Lights came on automatically when someone entered a room. The phone had a speed-dial feature. The lamps didn't need cords. Instead you just placed them over induction coils installed in the floor. And strangest of all, electromagnets caused pots and pans to float over the stove (which also used induction coils to heat the food).
The house was in West Covina, CA (in the LA area). I wonder if it's still standing? I don't see why it wouldn't be, but I haven't been able to find an address for it. Read more about it here
Listed in chronological order. Newest comments at the end.
Color me dubious, as none of the so-called features are shown in situ. All we really see are some exterior shots of a butt-ugly house. Why no photographs of the stove in action? Why is the lamp shown on a platform rather than on the floor? Why is the house's "brain" (supposedly installed on the roof) being carried around by some scientist-y looking guy? Looks to me like some credulous reporter(s) got taken in. Most of the stuff described may have been technologically possible, but I don't see any signs that it was actually installed in anyone's house.
Posted by Frank H in Marietta on 07/06/12 at 10:58 AM
@ Frank H - it looks like the article was done while the house was under construction, the lamp and box is because the house was not yet built, and it may have been the 'test unit' made as proof of concept. The house brain was not yet installed, and was thus available to be looked at without climbing up on the roof, or a spare that was not installed on the roof and being used for demo purposes.
It would be interesting to see if it was still in existence, but I doubt it. There were a number of experimental homes of the future constructed around the country and most of them were sold off and torn down to be replaced by more standard homes after the proof of concept phase ended without the general public adopting whatever the fanciful new housing was. Which is a shame, there were some very interesting houses out there.
Posted by Aruvqan on 07/06/12 at 12:45 PM
It's surprising to find that the future didn't turn out to be what it was supposed to be.
Bell Labs clunky desk bound Picturephones are now the pocket phones of today.
And the pocket phone has all but replaced the hard wired phone.
The vinyl record barely exists and the audio cassette is pretty much extinct.
And the biggest lie of all time: "Buy cable t.v. and never see another commercial!"
I'm still waiting for my personal helicopter so I can take that vacation in the undersea city just off the coast.
Posted by KDP in Madill, OK on 07/06/12 at 03:11 PM
The difference between what is and what was imagined to be is very interesting. Star Trek was spot on with some stuff. The flip open communicators were very like modern cell phones are.
Posted by patty in Ohio, USA on 07/06/12 at 07:35 PM
Go back farther, Patty. Dick Tracy, in 1946, had a 2 way wrist radio about the size of today's stuff without the video!
When Motorola came out with their clam-shell phones I couldn't understand why some marketing weenie didn't glam onto the obvious Star Trek
Read some old circa 1950's Si/Fi and you'll see all kinds of stuff that has "come true". Some are the physical manifestations and some are "just" the concepts but those writers (like Asimov, Bradbury and Farmer) were sayers of mighty sooths!
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 07/06/12 at 10:52 PM
Sounds like a rich kid having fun with credulous reporters. In those days, very few people had $35,000 to buy a house, and here's a 23-year old guy sitting in his $35,000 playhouse. It has never hurt to have a rich daddy. My parents bought a new house for $11,000 in 1952, and they had to go deep into debt to be able to do that.
Posted by Harvey on 07/07/12 at 09:04 AM
In the mid-40's a chunk of Miami beach front went for a couple of thousands. And in the mid-50's an acre of Deltona went for about $1,000. But, they were just swampy land and of no use.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 07/07/12 at 09:25 AM
"The flip open communicators were very like modern cell phones are."
The flip-style was based on Trek. But...
Modern teen: Hey, dood, Nice retro cell! You got 4g?
Captain Kirk: Huh?
Teen: What's the bitrate on video downloads?
Kirk: Um, I don't get video.
Teen: What? Well, what do you have? You can at least Google, right?
Kirk: Um... phone service and, uh, GPS. Oh, and I can talk to the operator at the computer on the ship.
Absolutely no one imagined what the cell would do. Nor even now imagine what its descendents will do.
I am so glad I live in the future.
Posted by A Mindful Webworker in outer space on 07/07/12 at 06:03 PM
Expat: You didn't mention Arthur C Clarke. If he had patented geosynchronous satellites, he would have been the first multi-trillionaire. I'm waiting for his space elevator!
Posted by BMN on 07/08/12 at 03:32 PM
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