Dominant Companies of Yesteryear, No Longer With Us – a Hidden Warning in Walter Cronkite’s 1967 Home Office of the Future


When you’ve been at it for decades, you’ve seen the companies disappear. I bought my first stereo at Montgomery Wards. I used to eat at Wyatt’s cafeteria. I won’t even describe the pants I wore briefly in the 1970s, or my permed hair that same decade (my wife told me to leave that detail out of this post)….

So, I saw this fun 1967 video – made the year I was a Junior in High School. Walter Cronkite is introducing the home office of the future. By the way, I am writing this at my home office. I can do all of the things he pictured. With much smaller machines.

But – here’s the big detail to notice. Philco is prominent in the video.  Not one of the machines at my home office – not the computer, not the phone or tablet, not the printer, not the fax (actually, the 3 in one) machine, says Philco on it.

Mr. Cronkite’s home office had Philco products. In my home office, I’ve got three Apple products two Brother products, one AT&T land-line telephone, and one neat product.. (And, by the way, I do not print out a one-page news feed sheet each day). Not a Philco product to be found…  As close I can tell, none of the well-known products of today are in any way descendants of the original Philco (although, of course, the lessons learned and the breakthroughs made at Philco are all part of the technological past that all companies, in some sense, have built on).

Can you imagine the pride Philco felt when Walter Cronkite described the future home office they were designing?

Philco Cathedral Radio ()My current home office radio is in/through my iMac
Philco Cathedral Radio (My current home office radio is in/through my iMac)

How dominant was Philco?  From the Wikipedia article:

By 1930, they were selling more radios than any other maker, a position they held for more than 20 years.
Philco built many iconic radios and TV sets, including the classic cathedral-shaped wooden radio of the 1930s (aka the “Baby Grand”), and the very futuristic (in a 1950s sort of way) Predicta series of television receivers.
Philo Farnsworth, who invented cathode ray tube television, worked at Philco for some time.

Now, you know that there were meetings of smart people at Philco planning their next future business innovations. But, something happened along the way. And, now, Philco is a memory from the past, along with Wyatt’s and Montgomery Wards. And a long, long list of other products and companies.

The simple message/warning? – Staying the company of the future is a whoppingly big challenge!

(And, here’s another sobering note — my current students do not know the name Walter Cronkite.  I really do feel old at times…)

Here’s the video:

One thought on “Dominant Companies of Yesteryear, No Longer With Us – a Hidden Warning in Walter Cronkite’s 1967 Home Office of the Future

  1. So to pile it on, try to by just a radio today.

    Most come with a car attached or a receiver, other than that, not really so easy to find. Wanted one for the garage and couldn’t find a decent replacement for my 25 year old one.

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