What will life be like in the year 2000? That was the question
that the magazine Popular Mechanics posed in 1950 and which
Waldemar Kaempffert, the science editor of the New York Times,
tried to answer.
The fact that the article was titled "Miracles You'll See in the Next
Fifty Years" pretty much summed up the attitude of the day. We
weren't just going to see advances or novelties; we were going to see
miracles. It was going to be a world of planned suburban
communities built in the shape of ever increasing concentric circles
with a jet port at the hub, factories and offices next to that, and
tracts of land for mass-produced family homes beyond.
Supersonic jets would be a common sight, though the family car would
give way to the family helicopter, which would be built in robotic
factories. Atomic plants wouldn't be a major source of energy
except in the northern regions or to propel ships, while solar power
would run most of the world.
Everything would be electric, pollution free and, above all, orderly.
would have long ago failed to keep pace with population, so a large
fraction of daily fare would be synthetics, such as sugars and
starches made from sawdust or wood pulp. Even recycled cloth
would be turned into food.
Not that anyone would do much cooking. Frozen
foods and microwave ovens would turn boiling, frying, and roasting
into curiosities; the Food Channel would never come to be, and Jamie
Oliver would be parking cars for a living.