Monday, March 30, 2015

The Burroughs B205 Control Console: A Star Of Film and Television

The iconic Burroughs B205 computer control console.
The B205 was first introduced in 1956 and was considered one of the industry leaders in computer science.

The flashing lights, shiny knobs, and toggle switches on the control console made it ideal for 1960s era sci-fi films and television programs. Most notably in the television series, Lost In Space, beginning in 1965:

The flight controls for the Jupiter 2 - the Burroughs B205 figure prominently on deck.
The B205 was also the favorite control console in Batman, the original television series beginning in 1966.
Robin does something at the Navigational Aid Computer - the B205 looks busy as well.
The B205 was multifunctional in Batman - here it's used as the Voice-Control Batmobile Relay-Circuit
Before the Burroughs B205 debuted in the Lost In Space television series it appeared in the 1959 sci-fi horror/adventure film, The Angry Red Planet.

Here the B205 slumbers aboard the M-1 spaceship surrounded by the crew of the first mission to Mars.
The Burroughs B205 was also used as one of a time machine's main control consoles in the 1964 sci-fi action/romance film, Time Travelers.

Overeager Steve Connors (Philip Carey) prepares for countdown to a time machine test with the B204 at his fingertips.
Burroughs' B205 system was designed specifically to cope with the full range of electronic computing problems in the fields of business industry, science and government.

The Burroughs B205 business office set up.
The B205 employed for use by the United Gas Corporation
The researchers and developers at the U.S. Naval Ordnance Laboratory in Corona, CA also utilized the B205 in their work.
So there you have it - the Burroughs B205 command console as film and television star. There were more appearances for this computer icon which also included the just as recognizable B205 tape drive. The Burroughs' design seemed to encapsulate the general vision of the computerized future at the time. While in reality it may have turned out a whole lot different, the B205 inspired generations of creative and curious people to pursue serious careers in computer science.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Jetsons and Space Age Googie - Imagining A Whimsical Future

Life in 2062 when folks are living the high life - literally. Nearly every student of the future knows that when it comes to that whimsical techno-utopian age to be, the family to watch are the Jetsons. Even television itself stepped into the future when The Jetsons hit prime time on ABC-TV as the first program ever broadcast in color in 1962.

Now, getting to the high life. The family Jetson reside in Orbit City. Orbit City has all the accommodations you'd expect in a cosmopolitan sort of place - but they're all raised high above the ground. The architecture designs echo mid-20th century space age mod Googie style: sweeping arches and upswept roofs, large domes, boomerang, amoeba, and palette shapes, atomic symbols and motifs, flying saucer shapes, and of course, the starburst.

Below is a selection of images that highlight the man-made environs of Orbit City.

The Jetsons live in the Skypad Apartments - a large five story multiple-family dwelling.
George and Jane's son Elroy attends Little Dipper School (Note the boomerang-style platform).
Daughter Judy Attends Orbit High - complete with a large domed stadium.
Jane 'his wife' often spends her mornings at Orbit City's massive Shopping Center (Note the tiny people on the platforms, and the starburst array on the front-most structure, as well as the palette shaped sign).
George works as a 'digital index operator' at Spacely Space Sprockets, Inc. (Note the elevated drive/walkways that lead to the main entrance).
After daily activities there's always somewhere to hang out during the evenings:

The teens can hang out at The Spaceburger Drive-In (Note the electric rays emitting from the neon sign).
There's the space age Fun Pad amusement park for folks of all ages. (Note again the large size of this structure and rides by the size of the people on the platforms).
But the Jetsons also have getaways from their fair city:

The Moon is always an adventure and the Moonhattan Tilton Hotel is a popular resort. (Notice the tube travel system and the glass dome providing the comfy environment for visitors.)
When Jane and George decide on a second honeymoon, Las Venus is their choice. It's a super getaway spot for the couple and as with the Las Vegas of the 50s it has its share of temptations:

The Sonic Sahara Hotel and Resort is pretty swank in pink.
The Supersonic Sands Resort and Casino provides great accommodations. (Note the amoeba-shaped platform and the boomerang-styled swimming pool).
The Super Sonic Club is a stylish affair for dine and dancing. (Note the spaceship-style top structure and the zig-zag support beams underneath).
Back in Orbit City, a look at the structures that house the media:

Local station KLMN with a simple satellite array and the googie-style shaped backgrounds for the station call letters signage.
The asteroid TV Productions' structure features the large plate glass windows so popular in mid-mod architecture design.
Space Gems is a large complex with a more elaborate communications array for coverage to a larger audience.
Here are just a couple other residences away from the metropolitan area of Orbit City:

This is George Jetson's boss Mr. Spacely's 'old cabin' getaway - a very mid-mod styled vacation home of the 20th century (Note the sloping roof, the rosewood material for an added warmth to the design, and the stone chimney for a natural touch).
This is the sprawling ranch mansion of billionaire J.P. Gottorockets (Note the pond on the left with the abstract sculpture in the middle).

And finally, below are a few shots of life on the ground. Paradoxically, two of them are things you'd most associate with  the sky:

The Grand Central Space-tion - interestingly this design is very much like that of the TWA terminal at the JFK airport in New York, designed by Eero Saarinen. Both were debuted in 1962 - coincidence?
In the seventh episode this little bird found himself grounded due to all of the traffic in the air.

The final image brings us all down to reality. At the lower levels of Orbit City reside the poor. The 'hobos and the layabouts.' In The Jetsons' seventh episode the character pictured below steps in briefly to give a punchline for a joke. Perhaps Hanna-Barbera meant this a a dark punchline in a general way as well - even with all the amazing gadgets and gizmos of 2062 poverty will still be with us. But while those who have are living the high life, those who have not (for whatever reasons) will be below out of sight and out of mind.

The Googie style began in Southern California in 1949 when designer John Lautner created the new look for Googie's coffee shop at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights in Los Angeles. The style caught on and was soon used in designs everywhere. Where it really stood out were the gas stations and motels developed along American highways - Googie represented the Space Age and all of its promises realized in a visible way, it captured the imaginations of the new travel culture that developed post-WWII. The more conservative and pretentious architects and designers had - and have - ridiculed the designs complaining that they were garish and too vernacular to be taken seriously. The style faded after about twenty-five years. Much of the structures and signage have been dismantled and destroyed. There are groups of people who have begun to appeal for the preservation of those places that still exist - they point out that these are important visual reminders of an important era in U.S. history.

If you'd like to see and read more about Googie be sure to visit Googie Architecture Online - it's a marvy site and a great reference.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Become Mesmerized While Absorbing The Geometry Of Circles - Philip Glass Music On Sesame Street (1979)

This original set of music compositions was composed by Philip Glass for four individual episode presentations. This video stitches all four together in one presentation.
- danielhouse

Monday, March 9, 2015

Way Cool Space Illustration Imagery via Dreams of Space

These images are just a sample of the neat bunch you'll find on Dreams of Space two part series covering the Nestlé 'chocolate stamp' book, The Conquest of Space, c.1962. The book was available for purchase and was designed so that kids could fill in the illustration spots with collectable stamps found with their Nestlé chocolate bars. For more images and info check out Part 1 and Part 2.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Land Of Physics - Think Of It As A Map To An Excellent Action Adventure Game

Central Scientific's 1939 Map of Physics (image via Frank Jacobs)
This spatial representation of the subject, dating from 1939, defines itself as Being a map of physics, containing a brief historical outline of the subject as will be of interest to physicists, students, laymen at large; Also giving a description of the land of physics as seen by the daring souls who venture there; And more particularly the location of villages (named after pioneer physicists) as found by the many rivers; Also the date of founding of each village; As well as the date of its extinction; and finally a collection of various and sundry symbols frequently met with on the trip.
The map represents physics as a continent with its main branches as rivers. The districts are populated with villages named after famous physicists, with the relation between those pioneers and their field of expertise.

Those fields are, left to right and top to bottom: Mechanics, Sound, Electricity, Magnetism, Light, Astronomy, Heat, Mechanical and Electromagnetic Energy, and Radioactivity.

Displaying the fields as topographical elements of the same map hints at the unified nature of the subject. Some examples: '[T]he joining of astronomy and mechanics […] by Kepler, Galileo and Newton (who showed that the movement of the Moon is described by the same laws as [that of] a falling apple.' At the center of the map, mechanics and electromagnetism merge. 'Electromagnetism [itself is] a fusion between electricity and magnetism, which were joined when it was noted by Oersted that an electric current produces a magnetic field, and when it was noted by Faraday that when a magnet is moved around in a wire loop, it creates a current in that loop.' (Description via Frank Jacobs)

So, think of it this way: if you can memorize the geography of lands or cities represented in the typical action adventure video game, you can more easily conceptualize the world of physics with the study of this map. I would suggest this to educators teaching the basics of physics and/or any of the specific fields.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Kind Of, Sort Of - Walter Cronkite Describes 2001 In 1967 (Video)

In the 1960s imaginative creatives put a lot of thought and idealism into what they envisioned life would be like in the 21st century. This video, hosted by Walter Cronkite and produced by educational publishers McGraw-Hill, is a display of the most popular prototype concepts designed during the 1960s. It's all quite mod, with a great deal of energy and material conservation and efficiency in mind. Some concepts came fairly close to the actuality of 2001, but the variables that the designers, engineers, and other creatives had no control over - politics and economics - drastically affected much of their good-natured optimism. 

Personally, I think the 2001 in 1967 was way cooler than the 2001 of 2001. Still, there's a lot of the 21st century left - it's hard to be as excited about the future as the folks were mid-twentieth century, but maybe down the line humans will rediscover that ability to imagine and create a fabulous future.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The ELECOM 110 - The $62,500 General Purpose Digital Computer

The ELECOM 110 - A General Purpose Digital Computer
Scientific American September 1952

Not too shabby for $62K in 1952, this thing operates at .12Mhz has roughly 2K of memory and each tape holds around 360K.
Plus for all you case modders, it already comes with 200 glowing tubes. Try to beat that with your little LEDs. - Modern Mechanix.

(Image via Modern Mechanix, h/t Nemojp Dante)

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Future According To Bürgle

Klaus Bürgle - an illustrator and visionary extraordinaire from Stuttgart, Germany. In the 1950s and '60s he created a rich visual world of the future. The exploration of space was certainly his favorite subject, but many of his images also show futuristic cities and transportation. Bürgle specialized in technical and scientific issues and created cover and interior illustrations for a variety of popular science books and magazines. His contributions to the large-format fold-out picture youth annual, The New Universe, were especially popular.

One of the coolest aspects of Bürgle's work were the cutaways in his illustrations. Below are some examples of the future according to Bürgle.

(Images via Retro-Futurismus)