This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

The Future Is Now

mark1

December 20, 1943: Norman Bel Geddes Chosen to Design Case for Mark 1

This controversial announcement was not a comment on Bel Geddes’ abilities, but the timing and expense. The case would cost $100,000 and many thought this extravagance could not be afforded during a time of war, WWII.

Bel Geddes

Bel Geddes

In 1944 Harvard and IBM introduced the “Mark 1” computer. This was the first digital, programmable computer. It was the size of a large room, weighing five tons and measuring 51 feet long. This machine was designed to do complicated computations for the U.S. Navy and was in use for 15 years.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

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Norman Bel Geddes (April 27, 1893 – May 8, 1958) was an American industrial designer. Much of his work focused on aerodynamics.

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Art Deco House

Art Deco House

In 1927 Bel Geddes opened an industrial-design studio.  He designed a wide range of commercial products, from cocktail shakers to radio cabinets. His designs extended to unrealized futuristic concepts like a teardrop-shaped automobile, or an Art Deco House of Tomorrow.  In 1929, he designed “Airliner Number 4,” a 9-deck amphibian airliner that incorporated areas for deck-games, an orchestra, a gymnasium, a solarium, and even two airplane hangars.

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A sample of Bel Geddes’ work

Model of Teardrop Auto

Model of Teardrop Auto

Bel Geddes designed the General Motors Pavilion, known as Futurama, for the 1939 New York World's Fair.

Bel Geddes designed the General Motors Pavilion, known as Futurama, for the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

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Detail of the Futurama exhibit at the New York World Fair 1939-40, showing a street intersection in the City of Tomorrow

Detail of the Futurama exhibit at the New York World Fair 1939-40, showing a street intersection in the City of Tomorrow

Motor car no. 8, 1931

Motor car no. 8, 1931

Motor coach no. 2, 1931

Motor coach no. 2, 1931

Flying Car

Flying Car

Streamline one piece school desk

Streamline one piece school desk

"Patriot" Radio

“Patriot” Radio

Arial Restaurant

Arial Restaurant

Three piece bedroom set was designed for the Simmons Company, introduced in 1932 and exhibited at the 1933 Worlds Fair in Chicago. The set is in "exhibition yellow" and black enamel on steel.

Three piece bedroom set was designed for the Simmons Company, introduced in 1932 and exhibited at the 1933 Worlds Fair in Chicago. The set is in “exhibition yellow” and black enamel on steel.

Leather Club Chair

Leather Club Chair

Log Holder

Log Holder

Cocktail Shaker

Cocktail Shaker

saarinen-portrait

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