What the 21st-century home looked like in 1967

Program with Walter Cronkite accurately predicted the rise of the home office and the big-screen TV. But we're still waiting for robot maids and meals that cook themselves.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Feb 13, 2013 10:31AM

Video still of Walter Cronkite in ‘The 21st Century’ in 1967 (© Everett Collection)Some of you may remember when the idea of 2001 was the stuff of science fiction.


Back in 1967, newscaster Walter Cronkite did a half-hour episode of his regular “The 21st Century” program envisioning the home of 2001. Several bloggers have recently taken a look at that old video, evaluating which predictions have come to pass in the past 45 years and which have not.


Cronkite’s prediction about the ubiquitous home office certainly came true, though the devices we’re using are a lot smaller than the ones he used in his demo. His phone of the future doesn’t look much like today’s smartphone, and we don’t bother to print out the news we get on our screens.


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His future home office, however, did include video conferencing, online delivery of news, weather and stock reports, and closed-circuit broadcasts from the rest of the house. Matt Novak of The Smithsonian’s Paleofuture blog notes that the "electronic correspondence machine" is visible, but Cronkite doesn’t mention it.

Cronkite accurately predicts of the home office: "Now this is where a man might spend most of his time in the home of the 21st century." Novak notes that Cronkite’s program didn’t predict one major social change: that the occupant of the home office was equally likely to be a woman.


And this prediction was certainly accurate: "In the 21st century, it may be that no home will be complete without a computerized communications console."

The predictions of the living room of the future were fairly accurate: a big screen where you could watch sports or movies and surround sound for music.

The predictions about the kitchen still look pretty futuristic: a machine where you can program in the ingredients and have a complete meal come out at the end of the line, and disposable dishes that you create at the beginning of each meal and then melt.


And we are still awaiting those robots that will clean the house. The Roomba and its clones are fine as far as they go, but they still don’t scrub the toilet. Do you think we’ll have those robot maids by 2062, the year in which "The Jetsons" took place?


What innovations do you think the next 45 years will bring to the home?


Feb 13, 2013 11:36PM
I think the animated movie "Wall-E", showed the true future of humans, haha.
We're almost there now, just another 50 yrs. and.....

Feb 13, 2013 10:56PM
Where are the jet packs we were promised?
Feb 13, 2013 8:22PM

To think that all these things that he mention has come about in the days of the baby boomers. I think I could do without  "Rosie". She would probably never leave me alone in my own bathroom.


Who would ever thought that we would have half the stuff we have today. Most everyone has a cellphone. 20 years ago they were not affordable. They wee called bagphones. Why? The battery to the phone had to carried in a bag. That was pretty heavy then. The phones in the sixties were usually on the wall or on a desk. Most people's phone service was through a MA BELL company.

But remember people, you still need a rotary phone (push button) in case of a natural diaster.


Most people wish they had AC Units back in the 1960's. Few people had window units. Fewer people had units with their furnaces. 


Lastly, I remember reading about the predictions people had at the turn of 1900. Just think how much those predictions have come true and more.

Feb 13, 2013 6:54PM
Science fiction - it is all too far fetched to ever come true...
Feb 13, 2013 6:23PM
Wouldn't it have been FUNNY if he would have also said  -

And this computer here can be used by the man (or woman) of the home to view never ending amounts of explicit, hardcore p*rnography, which in the 21st century will comprise 1/3 of all network traffic. 

Come on--it's funny, right?




Feb 13, 2013 5:13PM
Most science fiction predicted that as machines massively increased productivity employers would pay better for far fewer hours. They never guessed that as automation took over most functions that required skill such as welding and precision work was taken over by machines they'd simply eliminate every job except minimum wage ones.
Feb 13, 2013 5:08PM
Feb 13, 2013 5:03PM
Does anyone but me think Walter Cronkite and Walter Disney look exactly the same??
Feb 13, 2013 5:00PM
Well, at least he was right in saying that most of us would be having a lot more free time in the eary 21st Century. Except he said it would be because of 30-hour work weeks and 4-week long vacations; I guess he didn't realize we'd all have a lot more free time because most/many of us would be unemployed!!
Feb 13, 2013 4:58PM
Funny, the picture of the the "typical Home" in 2001 looks an awful lot like the actual livingrooms of 1968-- sunken living room, orange furniture, fake plants, etc.
Feb 13, 2013 4:34PM
Cronkite was a typical Liberal Hypocrite. Thought he knew everything and I laughed when he tried to sue Donald Trump for spoiling his view and lost his **** in Court
Feb 13, 2013 4:31PM
Maybe we will have a staff of humanoid clones to serve us
Feb 13, 2013 4:26PM
I guess he could interview our favorite "love Story" subject and pontificate about clean air while traveling in his smoke spewing private jet
Feb 13, 2013 4:17PM
He probably didn't mention most of these devices would be made in what was then called "Red China". God, I miss Cronkite's integrity. Any of these two-bit chumps like Boehner or McConnell would be promptly put in their place, let alone what he'd do with the likes of Sarah Palin...
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