Between 1938 and 1950, the soft drink industry launched two failed attempts to sell soda in steel conetop cans. In both cases, the idea was abandoned due to various flavor and leakage problems.
An improved can was developed in 1951 and put on the market in 1953. The new design was a success, and soda manufacturers quickly adopted the format. Industry giants like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and 7-UP were reluctant to join the can revolution, since they had the most to lose if the idea failed. In 1960, Coca-Cola was the last company to begin using cans.
Both flattop and conetop cans were used until 1960, when conetop cans were phased out. Flattop cans were made of steel and were punched open with a church key can opener.
In the 1950s, the first sugar-free diet soft drinks were marketed to diabetic patients. Early diet sodas included No-Cal Soda and Low Calorie Shasta Cola.
In 1954, Swanson introduced a new line of frozen meals known as TV Dinners. The packaging resembled a TV screen, and the first meal featured turkey with stuffing, peas and sweet potatoes. Swanson's product was not the first frozen dinner on the market, but it quickly became the most popular. Eating at home would never be the same again.
The first cake mixes were introduced in the 1930s. Early brands suffered from inconsistent quality and poor taste, and it took quite a few years for housewives to embrace them. In the early 1950s, three factors were responsible for an increase in sales: improved taste, the removal of powdered eggs from the ingredients, and the birth of the cake decorating hobby. Cake mixes became acceptable when proud homemakers could play an active role in their baking by adding their own eggs and personalizing their cakes.
The mid 20th century was the heyday of the dairy industry. There were more farms, more local dairies and more choices for the average consumer. The Dairy Promotion Council was responsible for a rise in milk consumption in the 1950s.
The first glass milk bottles were patented in the 1880s. Wax-lined milk cartons were introduced in the 1930s. Glass bottles remained the preferred method of milk packaging until the 1950s, when the introduction of the pull-open spout and plastic laminated lining made cartons a more sensible choice. Many dairies switched to cartons during this decade.
Elsie was Borden's official spokescow. In 1957, Borden held a nationwide contest to name Elsie's twins. Three million entries were sent in, and Larabee and Lobelia were the winning choices. The names were never used in advertising.
In the 1930s, dentists discovered that naturally-occuring fluoride in the water supply was helpful in preventing cavities. Towns began to add fluoride to their drinking water in 1945. The first toothpaste to contain fluoride was Crest, which went on the market in 1955.
In 1950, studies found that just 7 percent of American women colored their hair. Home haircoloring kits had been available since the 1920s, but the practice was still not favored by most women. Unless she was an actress, society still questioned the morals of a woman who colored her hair. If a woman did dye her hair, she absolutely did not want anyone to know.
In 1956, the Miss Clairol advertising campaign addressed the issue by showing a young woman with a child and including the tagline "Does she or doesn't she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure." This implied that her haircolor looked completely natural and her reputation as a mother was beyond reproach. The number of women who dyed their hair began to increase, although it was still done discreetly.
In the 1950s, the development of tubeless technology and an increase in the use of plastics allowed radios to be made in a variety of sizes. Often, they were combined with clocks and phonographs to form clock-radios and console hi-fi systems. Commercial FM radio was launched in 1941 and was in full swing by the 1950s. Although the popularity of FM still couldn't compare to AM, most manufacturers produced FM radios during this decade.
Transistors were first used in radios in 1954. That year, Sony sold the first transistor radio for $49.95.
Many manufacturers also sold radios that featured short wave, weather, emergency and Civil Defense bands.
Magnetic tape recorders were developed in Germany during the 1930s. They were introduced to the American public in 1947, and were immediately embraced by performers like Bing Crosby and Jerry Lewis. By the 1950s, making home recordings and buying prerecorded music tapes was common.
In the old days, music was released on 78 RPM records. Two new formats were introduced in the late 1940s: small 45 RPM records and large long-playing records. Although record companies continued to make 78s throughout the 1950s, the war of the record speeds was essentially over. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, manufacturers sold phonographs that could play all three speeds and sizes.
Television made gigantic strides in the 1950s. The beginning of the decade saw old-fashioned units with mahogany cabinets and folding doors. By 1959, TV sets had adopted a design that would go more or less unchanged for the next 20 years. Although most people didn't own color sets, some TV stations had begun to broadcast a few shows in color.
Zenith introduced the wired remote-control in 1950, and the wireless remote-control in 1955. These features would not become standard until the late 1970s.
popular brands Admiral Zenith Magnavox Westinghouse Philco Arvin Crosley Motorola
Microwaves were developed during World War II, and their ability to cook food extremely quickly was discovered quite by accident. In 1954, Raytheon introduced the first microwave oven: the 1161 Radarange. It was so large it could only be used for railroads, restaurants and ocean liners. A home version wouldn't be available until 1967.
progress Today, we have a realistic attitude about the technological wonders that surround us. We take it for granted that scientists will eventually invent everything there is to invent. But we also know that we won't be driving around in Jetsons-style bubble cars anytime soon. The future no longer captivates us as it once did.
Now, time-warp back to the 1950s.... World War II was the turning point for 20th century technology. An amazing number of new and exciting things were invented or improved for the war effort. When the war was over, this technology was thrust onto the general public all at once, and it must have seemed as though every scientific marvel under the sun was just around the corner.
The pictures to the right are from a General Electric ad from the late 1950s. They illustrate just how far technology had come since the early 1940s. So much, so quickly...it's no wonder people believed anything was possible!
This obsession with the future gave birth to the phenomenon known as the house of the future. No state fair or expo was complete without one of these little prefab beauties.
Shown above is the Monsanto House Of The Future, which was located at Disneyland from 1957 to 1967. It depicted the typical suburban house of 1986, and was filled to the brim with plastic surfaces, built-in appliances and push-button controls.
look at these wonders 7th graders have seen in their short lifetime
Manned space travel is just around the corner
Electronic appliances make housework easier
Modern medicine has given us penicillin and the Salk polio vaccine
computers Computers were developed during World War II. They were originally designed to perform the detailed calculations normally done by engineers, such as decoding enemy messages and determining missile trajectories. The most famous of these computers was the ENIAC at the University of Pennsylvania.
After the war, computer technology was gradually introduced to the business world. In 1951, the UNIVAC was unveiled. This was the first "mass produced" computer available to the civilian market. It was the size of a garage and used enough vacuum tubes to require its own cooling system. The first machine was purchased by the U.S. Census Bureau. 46 UNIVAC units were eventually built.
After the UNIVAC came the ILLIAC, at the University Of Illinois in 1952. My dad, who is both an engineer and a professional musician, attended the U of I in the 1950s, and still recalls the thrill of hearing the ILLIAC demonstrate the world's first computerized music. In 1956, the Illiac Suite was the first music to be composed by a computer.
Data and programs were fed into the machine on punched paper tape and punch cards. Programmers used keypunch machines to prepare their cards in advance.
By the end of the decade, transistors began to replace vacuum tubes in most machines. Computers gradually became smaller and more efficient.
the central exchange office Each telephone subscriber was connected to the nearest central exchange office, which was named after the town or street where it was located. Your individual subscriber number could range from one to five digits.
"Bedford 247, please" In a manual exchange, the operator was responsible for connecting all local calls. You signaled her by picking up the receiver and clicking the switchhook. Your phone didn't have a dial, because phone numbers were given to the operator verbally. When you made a call, you gave her the central office name, the subscriber number and any party line extensions.
party lines Many subscribers saved money by sharing a party line with their neighbors. This service made it possible for a single telephone line to serve up to 12 parties. Customers were assigned a common subscriber number and an individual party extension, which consisted of a party letter, a ring code or a combination of both. For incoming calls, each party listened for their distinctive ring pattern. 75 percent of all phone lines in 1950 were party lines.
In an automatic exchange, subscribers could dial local numbers themselves. This was known as dial service. During dial conversion, the central office was outfitted with automatic switching equipment and each subscriber received a dial telephone. Dialing instructions were printed in newspapers and demonstrations were given at town meetings.
exchange names When dial conversion was complete, most exchanges continued to use their central office names. For dialing purposes, each name was reduced to the first two letters, which were capitalized and often combined with a number. Callers dialed these lettered exchanges before dialing the subscriber number. They became known as exchange names.
On the dial, each number was shared by three letters. The exchange names may have been different, but the actual numbers being dialed could be the same as another exchange. If the exchanges were within the same area code, one of them adopted a new name. Unlike the original central office names, the new exchange names were often chosen at random and bore no resemblance to their locations. In my county, the towns of Woodstock, Cary and Crystal Lake chose the exchange names FEderal 8, MErcury 9 and GLencourt 9.
When you made a call within your exchange, dialing the complete exchange name usually wasn't necessary. Out-of-town callers needed to use the full exchange name.
other operator-assisted calls Phone numbers with Zenith or Enterprise as the exchange name were toll-free numbers. After the operator connected you, she filled out a ticket reversing the charges. The operator also helped you make collect calls, ship-to-shore calls, station-to-station calls, person-to-person calls and calls to mobile phones, which were introduced in 1946.
long distance Before direct distance dialing came to your area, most out-of-town calls required operator assistance. A few nearby towns could be dialed by the subscriber or the regular operator, but all other locations required calling the long distance operator. After giving her the number, you waited on the line while the connection was made. If it was going to take a long time, she called you back when your call was ready.
direct distance dialing (DDD) With DDD, subscribers could dial their own long distance calls without operator assistance. The system was first used in Englewood, New Jersey in 1951. Installation across the entire country was completed in 1962. Because the DDD system required a seven-digit number, all phone numbers using old formats were changed to the standard seven-digit format that we use today. Area codes were also established under this plan.
all-number calling All-number calling was also known as digit dialing. This system made its debut in Wichita Falls, Texas in 1958. With digit dialing, the lettered exchange names were translated into three-digit prefixes. Participating exchanges dropped their letters and names completely, and gave everyone a simple seven-digit number. Many towns never used the lettered exchange names that were assigned to them, having made the conversion to digit dialing and dial service simultaneously.
dial tone The dial tone is an electronic tone adopted by automatic exchanges to indicate that a line is free and ready to use. It replaced the familiar "number, please?" that you heard when making a call in a manual exchange.