On March 12, 1967, Walter Cronkite gave his viewers a tour of a 21st century home, and it's a fascinating look at what captivated the imaginations of Americans in the late 60's. It's even more interesting to see what really has come to pass (videophones, newspapers delivered by satellite) to what still seems kind of bizarre (molded on-demand plastic plates?!). The plates were a major feature of the futuristic kitchen, which also has a 'no dirty dishes' policy. Why? Because the used plates are melted down again! Watch the video for more of Cronkite's 2001 vision, and see a transcript below:
This might be the kitchen in the home of the future. Preparation of a meal in the 21st century could be almost fully automatic. Frozen or irradiated foods are stored in that area over there.
Meals in this kitchen of the future are programmed. The menu is given to the automatic chef via typewriter or punched computer cards. The proper prepackaged ingredients are conveyed from the storage area and moved into this microwave oven where they are cooked in seconds. When the meal is done the food comes out here. When the meal is ready, instead of reaching for a stack of plates I just punch a button and the right amount of cups and saucers are molded on the spot.
When I've finished eating, there will be no dishes to wash. The used plates will be melted down again, the leftovers destroyed in the process and the melted plastic will be ready to be molded into clean plates when I need them next.
Isn't it interesting to see what people viewed as progress in the kitchen? The ultimate kitchen of the 1960's was an automatic one, with quick, space age foods that could be produced almost instantaneously. What would they think if we told them that 45 years later we're still pouring, stirring, frying, and baking with our hands, still making things from scratch, still waiting minutes and hours for a meal to be done. And that, hey, we like it that way!