From The Archives: The New Tools Of Home Improvement

Smart homes from futures past

April 1956

Popular Science

In April 1956, Popular Science told readers how to modernize homes with bleeding-edge technology. The mark of a great home, we noted, "is not its size or shape or color, but how much up-to-date machinery it has to make living easier." At the time, that meant retractable electrical cords, smokeless ovens, and countertop blenders. Today, that means something entirely different: app-based security systems, voice-controlled lighting, and cloud-based intelligence that learns your daily routine and adjusts the heat or AC to your liking--before you even walk in the door. Learn how to set up today's smart home here.

The Smart Home, Circa 1990

In 1990, Dutch astronomer Chriet Titulaer built his House of the Future, a $6-million mock-up of how we would live in 10 years. As Popular Science reported that September, it included state-of-the-art technologies--some of which came to fruition just a few years late.

Personalized Security

From six feet away, the front door recognized the owner’s unique chip card and automatically granted entry.

Intelligent Fuel Indicator

A sensor monitored gas consumption and used data such as indoor and outdoor temperature to help decrease utility bills.

Automatic Meal Delivery

A conveyor carried meals from the kitchen to a cube-shaped glass solarium in an ornamental pond outside.

Virtual Chef

A central column in the kitchen housed a refrigerator, a freezer, food storage, and a computer that offered recipes onscreen or by voice.

This article was originally published in the May 2015 issue of Popular Science, under the title "The New Tools Of Home Improvement."