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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE CITY OF RUINS AND ROSES, c. 1930

Robo-Vac: 1959

Robo-Vac: 1959

1959. "Anne Anderson in Whirlpool 'Miracle Kitchen of the Future,' a display at the American National Exhibition in Moscow." Kodachrome by Bob Lerner for the Look magazine article "What the Russians Will See." View full size.

 

Here, Astro!

She looks just like she would if she were calling her dog or cat.

They got one thing right.

The Vacuum is in Harvest Gold, in another ten years that would become very popular, along with avocado green.

Personally I like the colors of the late 50's, especially the Salmon and Aqua used in the cabinets here.

Today

It's body would be all black plastic with no embellishments or concessions to beauty.

An interesting exercise in perspective is to realize this is 54 years ago, yet everything looks very up to date in comparison to today, including the way the lady is dressed. However, 54 years from 1959 was 1905 and a kitchen of that day and time would still be in the wood stove era and the lady completely covered from her neck to her feet with not one similarity between then and 1959. The same principle applies to the automobiles of the eras with the 1905 car still barely more than a rudimentary puddle jumper while a '59 model is an all-steel, stylish vehicle that can have a powerful V-8, automatic transmission and most important of all air-conditioning, very similar to today's cars. There seems to have been a tremendous advancement in progress up to the 50's, then things kind of leveled out with the changes being simply variations on the same themes.

Why contractors get grey.

Okay, lady, when you decide on a color for the cabinetry, give us a call.

No Progress? None!

Somehow they haven't really make much progress with auto appliances since 1959.

I'm still waiting for Hired Girl and Flexible Frank hitting the stores, as envisaged by R. A. Heinlein in his 1956 novel "The Door Into Summer". After all, I do see Drafting Dan's cousins every day at work.

Oh my God, it's Trudy!

That woman is the exact model for Trudy in Mad Men! And she did dress like that for a relaxing day at home, I think.

Like the traditional futuristic world's fair type of display, it took about 40 years for a self-propelled vaccum to become a "consumer product" - I wonder just how well that pretty little thing sucked?

Inspiration for the DeLorean DMC-12?

Stylistically, that is.

Russia, 1959

In 1959, I'll bet the cucumbers were wired for sound for the KGB.

I rememeber Bob Hope joking that at the Moscow hotel where he was staying, the TV was watching him!

The future...only took a while

Well it is one of the few things predicted in the late 50's and early 60's that actually came truth. The Roomba and iRobot products are proof of that it just took nearly 50+ years to be realized. Still great picture!

No Future in Fins?

It's got all the right styling cues, but they apparently decided that the future would not include fins on the Robovac, the only thing that I can see missing.

There It Goes!

That darned robovac is about to suck the Shorpy watermark right off the corner of the image!!!

Isn't this the place

where Vice President Richard Nixon had his famous "Kitchen Debate" with Nikita Khruschchev on July 24, 1959?

[That was the Kitchen of the Present, not Whirlpool's "Miracle" future model. - Dave]

Roomba 1.0

Wonder what the battery life was on that thing?

"Roomba Prototype" in Cyrillic

Wonder how many Russians left the exhibit thinking American housewives cleaned their all midcentury modern kitchens in red lipstick, heels and pearls?

Yeah, but it's missing a cat.

And just try getting anyone to watch your 8mm movie of the cat riding it in 1959!

Now THAT'S industrial design!

I would buy a robo-vac that looked like that. It looks like something that was sent out of a Martian lander in the original War of the Worlds

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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