City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

Indistinguishable from magic

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Lovely collection of quotations from the early days of radio, film and television in the New York Times helps contextualise today’s hubris. Couple of examples:

Radio 1922: Bruce Bliven, in The New Republic:

“There will be only one orchestra left on earth, giving nightly worldwide concerts; when all universities will be combined into one super-institution, conducting courses by radio for students in Zanzibar, Kamchatka and Oskaloose; when, instead of newspapers, trained orators will dictate the news of the world day and night, and the bedtime story will be told every evening from Paris to the sleepy children of a weary world; when every person will be instantly accessible day or night to all the bores he knows, and will know them all: when the last vestiges of privacy, solitude and contemplation will have vanished into limbo.”

Television 1939: New York Times editorial:

“The problem with television is that people must sit and keep their eyes glued to the screen; the average American family hasn’t time for it. Therefore the showmen are convinced that for this reason, if no other, television will never be a serious competitor of broadcasting.”

New York Times: Confounding Machines: How the Future Looked


2 responses to “Indistinguishable from magic”

  1. Maryann Mollerup Avatar

    The insight these people had early on is amazing. I would say their vision of the future has come true. I am concerned however about us all falling to sleep listening to the same orator. We need diversity to keep our own opinions alive.


  2. avinash Avatar

    I love the headers – “The Ether Will Now Oblige” and “New Way to Make Americans” sound like great
    album names 🙂


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