Once upon a time we thought we'd live in domed cities, piloting flying cars around while our homes were cleaned by robotic servants. We'd work three hours a day, three days a week just like in The Jetsons, and everything would be as bright and pristine as an iPod.
Launching a car from a catapult is about the closest we've come to getting them to fly reliably. So, what if all that futurist optimism actually paid off? Well, you'd probably give people gifts like these — click Continue for six gifts we'd give if that good ol' world of tomorrow was actually today.
1. Maid Robot
Future that never was: Who didn't love Rosie the robot? She dusted, cleaned, took care of everyone and even — somewhat miraculously — kept George from coming apart at the seams. The robotic maid is probably the most iconic image of the retro-future next to a flying car. Sadly, we all grew up having to clean our rooms.
Gift you could give today: The trusty Roomba.
2. Ultrasonic Bath
Future that never was: In just 15 minutes you'll be squeaky clean — and get a massage to boot. Sanyo showed off this ultrasonic, pod-like bath at the 1970 World Expo in Osaka, though as it is with most designs like this it didn't make its way from the show floor and into our bathrooms.
Gift you could give today: There are ultrasonic baths out there, just not really for people. How about one with built-in entertainment and steam instead?
3. Kitchen with Built-in Everything
Future that never was: Look at your kitchen with all that clutter. Toasters, knife racks, microwaves — oh my! This Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass company kitchen from 1943 consolidated all of that. Even bowls and pans were built right into the counters.
Gift you could give today: Unless you've got a time machine for going back to 1943, Ikea space-conscious kitchen solutions are probably the closest approximation.
4. Ticket to Mars
Future that never was: Sorry, Mr. Kubrick, but humanity still hasn't managed to have a proper space odyssey. Hell, we don't even have a base on the moon. We've really let all those retro-futurists down: designs were drawn up not only for orbital hotels hospitals, but full-on cities on other worlds.
5. Atomic Disruptor Raygun
Future that never was: Nothing says "retro-future" like a raygun. One better than that? An atomic raygun. Flickr user cohophoto built this from scratch and was kind enough to take gorgeous pictures for the rest of us.
Gift you could give today: You could send this cohophoto fellow a message (with plenty of cash attached) and see if he'd make one for you to gift away. Or you could drop some ducats and get a finely detailed raygun prop from Weta Workshop of Lord of the Rings fame.
6. Flying Car
Future that never was: ...And never will be, at this rate. It's hard to even say anything about our lack of flying cars today. It's a rather sore subject, you know? We were promised. Promised! I was going to skip all this and leave an unhappy emoticon instead. You know what? Here: :(
Gift you could give today: A box of tissues? There's also the Terrafugia Transition, but, dear reader, I for one am certainly not going to ask you to wait for your flying car fix, as we've all been forced for decades. Just build yourself a damn catapult.
Already own a flying car? Then check out one of our other gift guides, part of 12 Days of Gadgets here on DVICE:
Day One: 7 gadget gifts that will never go out of style
Day Two: 6 tech gifts billionaires are giving each other this year
Day Three: Giving a Kindle? Check out these 8 other e-readers first
Day Four: 8 offensive gadget gifts for the frenemies in your life
Day Five: 6 absurd gadget gifts your girlfriend will dump you over
Day Six: 5 classic sci-fi gadgets guaranteed to please your geekiest beloved
Day Seven: The DVICE guide to buying an HDTV in the off season
Day Eight: 7 awesome tech toys you can't buy in America
Day Nine: 7 gifts steampunks are giving each other this year
Day Ten: 6 gifts for if we lived in the retro tomorrow of yesterday
Day Eleven: 7 tech gifts you'll have to wait until next year to buy
Day Twelve: 5 holiday tech gifts that just might save the planet