Electronic Home Library (1959)

Illustration for article titled Electronic Home Library (1959)

Over at Paleo-Future Blog, Matt Novak documents the future that never was. Here, Novak takes a look at an electronic library from Arthur Radebaugh's whimsical futurist cartoonist strip, Closer Than We Think.


Remember 1959? You were just 9 years old, with not a care in the world (except maybe nuclear winter). You spread the Sunday paper out across the living room floor of your suburban Chicago home, and excitedly flipped to the funny pages. Closer Than We Think! Your favorite!

What fantastical promise from the future did Mr. Radebaugh have for you this week? Cars that run on sunshine? Tomatoes as big as Verne Gagne's head? Underseas highways to the land of godless commies? No, something even more ridiculous! A home library of electronic media! What a weird futuristic world that would be! Gosh golly, what will they think of next!

Some unusual inventions for home entertainment and education will be yours in the future, such as the "television recorder" that RCA's David Sarnoff described recently.

With this device, when a worthwhile program comes over the air while you are away from home, or even while you're watching it, you'll be able to preserve both the picture and sound on tape for replaying at any time. Westinghouse's Gwilym Price expects such tapes to reproduce shows in three dimensions and color on screens as shallow as a picture.

Another pushbutton development will be projection of microfilm books on the ceiling or wall in large type. To increase their impact on students, an electronic voice may accompany the visual passages.


Eternal thanks to my Closer Than We Think pusher Tom Z., without whom I would be living in a cold, dark world of black and white comic strips.

This post by Matt Novak originally appeared on Paleo-Future. Follow him on Twitter as Paleofuture and email him at paleofuture@gmail.com.

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I actually like the idea of projecting text on the ceiling. Can lie on the couch or in bed and read without craning your neck. Maybe a projector attached to a Kindle? Easy enough to do.