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In the 1950s, people didn't want internet. They dreamed of "electronic home libraries."

In 1959, one illustrator fantasized about how home entertainment might change, and his work presents an alternate vision of entertainment, when VCRs are fantastical objects and books' pages are cast upon the ceiling.

The library of the future, as imagined in 1959

The library of the future, as imagined in 1959.

Radabaugh via Flickr

One of several illustrations in Arthur Radebaugh's "Closer Than We Think!" series, this particular illustration predicts when people could record television shows (mission accomplished) and project pages of books onto their walls (also possible, but not as common). Radebaugh was a qualified technologist himself — as noted in a Newsweek piece about a retrospective of his work, Radebaugh was a pioneer of airbrush art and helped the Air Force use fluorescent paint for its instrument panels.

The electronic library was a bourgeoning fantasy in the late '50s and '60s, though people didn't know what form it would take. Most believed college libraries would lead the charge. In 1961, the New York Times covered a college library convention where many attendees said electronic libraries were the future of administration, and in 1967, legendary CBS CEO William Paley predicted that the electronic library was the future for large institutions.

Video recorders were a slightly less far-fetched idea in 1959, although they were still extremely expensive. In the 1950s, Ampex introduced the first videotape recorder, though it cost $50,000. By 1963, the price had been shaved by a full 30 percent ... making it $35,000. These high prices limited purchases to television networks, but they eventually came down.

All that said, views of the electronic home library have not always been so blindingly optimistic. For a bit of pessimism, there's no better source than this 1911 illustration by Harry Grant Dart. Titled "We'll All Be Happy Then," it depicts a future in which it's possible to instantly see video, get the news whenever you want, and even go to work from the comfort of your chair. And it all leaves you positively miserable:

Harry Grant Dart guessed exactly how 2015 would really feel.

Harry Grant Dart guessed exactly how 2015 would really feel.

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