Archive for February, 2012

A mix for an awful Valentine’s Day

For Valentine’s Day, I’ve updated my mix, “Absolutely Awful Hip-Hop Love Songs.” Now, instead of ten terrible tracks, there are 15. If you make it through the entire mix, I’ll send you an e-mail certificate of achievement. Enjoy. Or, rather, “enjoy.”

Absolutely Awful Hip-Hop Love Songs from laze on 8tracks.

Quasar (Klatu) the Robot


In the 1979 book Future Cities: Homes and Living into the 21st Century, these two pages outlined the “Living Room of the Future,” featuring a number of prescient technological predictions, including e-mail and flat-screen TVs. Among the less likely of the predictions was that there would be a “domestic robot [that] rolls in with drinks,” along with an interesting sidenote:

One robot, the Quasar, is already on sale in the USA. Reports indicate that it may be little more than a toy however, so it will be a few years before ‘Star Wars’ robots tramp through our homes.

Turns out, unsurprisingly, that this “robot” (actually named Klatu by its creator, Quasar Industries) was little more than a marketing gimmick that could “supposedly vacuum, dust, cook meals, walk the dog, and do the laundry,” despite the fact the technology to do any of these things wasn’t even close to existing:

After some research, I found that one of the division managers at Quasar had decided that they were going to sell a robot, dammit, and it didn’t matter that none of the technology they needed even existed at the time. That was a simple matter for the engineers to worry about. The robots that appeared in the media, in the meantime, were apparently radio-controlled by humans who just happened to be hanging around when the robot made an appearance. I even suspect that they might have had a guy in a suit for some of the things it did, although I’ve never seen that confirmed. After successfully scamming not only the public, but also his managers at Quasar, for many months, the guy apparently confessed that he pulled the whole idea out of his ass and then slunk off in humiliation, never to be heard from again.

A man named Tony Reichelt was the marketing push behind Klatu, described by an ex-Quasar Industries employee as “a lovable con-man – who really did love robots.” (This link also has a whole series of fascinating pictures of Klatu and other similar “promotional androids” of the time.)

I suspect Reichelt, wherever he wound up, probably looked at the Roomba when it debuted a decade ago and thought, “Klatu could do that.”