Walter Cronkite Demonstrates the Home of the Future in 1967

Take heart. You could be controlling your television from a panel half the size of a pool table.

Sometimes, I take the remote control and the hardware and software it controls for granted. Increasingly complex television choices have overtaxed our television user interfaces. We ask too much of the humble remote, and so it disappoints for simple tasks like searching for a movie on cable.

But things could have been worse! Take a look at this video Matt Novak posted to YouTube. It anticipates the ability to dial up all kinds of entertainment at home from football in 3D to music delivered through orb-like speakers. It's all pretty ho-hum, actually, from today's perspective. 

What really stands out, actually, is the proposed control system. The console that Walter Cronkite operates here is probably eight feet long and looks like a panel from a nuclear power plant control system. 

No really, here's the control room from an American facility with a still I grafted on from the video:

a11_controls_full_inlay.jpg

This was a design sensibility that preceded the development of graphical user interfaces. Knobs abound, switches, too. And, of course, these elements would come packaged in a beige desk of a machine.

Much as I hate the modern remote and its limitations. This would undoubtedly be worse. And as a quick primer in UI change relative to expectations and the miniaturization of electronics, you could do worse than comparing this video with your setup at home. 

Presented by

Why Is Google Making Human Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors at a world-class life sciences lab are trying to change the way people think about their health.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Videos

Why Is Google Making Human Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Technology

Just In