Profile of Norman Bel Geddes, creator of the 1939 New York World's Fair Futurama


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I can see where the designers of “Bioshock” got it from.

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“… and that these game him the skills …” Typo. It’s Gave fyi

It sounds like Futurama inspired parts of the Disney funhouse ride “Mr. Toads Wild Ride” maybe?

His other inventions like the electromechanical horserace track and betting parlor with analog computers sounds pretty astonishing also. And his inventions drew the social set that sounded like it was right of the Thin Man movies with smart Manhattan socialites drinking smuggled Prohibition booze, while menacing gangsters tried to put the squeeze on him.

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Great story. As a very young kid, I saw the Futurama at the 64 fair. Did not know till now Bel Geddes was at all involved.

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In the photo on the main page I’m guessing it says “Auditorium” on the building in the background. Over exposure and poor eyesight make it look like some vision of a Scientologist Future-past.

“Have you been for your monthly deprogramming at the Auditor?”

Just a small point: notice how Cory’s language helps perpetuate the myth of the glorious individual as he writes the man who built the Futurama. Bel Geddes did not, of course, build the Futurama, though clearly it was his conception and under his direction. The Futurama was a collaborative project, like almost all other human activities, and although we should give special attention to the remarkable individuals who conceive of new wonders (let alone those who find the energy to see them through to creation), it does not serve us well as humans to continually discount the work put in by others as if it was interchangeable. An effort like the Futurama requires both the imagination and energy of someone like Bel Geddes and the skills and labor or many others who help to make it tangible.

This is true even if much of the crew considered him “nuts.”

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This is common all over culture… does Lorde actually write the music she sings to? Did Steve Jobs really imagine and develop all of the apple ideas himself? Does anyone interview the catcher after his pitcher throws a no hitter?

Yes, it is common, and it is pernicious nonsense that is absolutely vital to the ongoing survival of the creation myths behind (at least) the USA (but also increasingly other western nations). Language is a small thing. Language is a big thing. “Bel Geddes, the imagination and force behind the Futurama…” still gives the man all the credit he deserves without explicitly discarding all the others who actually built the thing. Groups of people are almost always behind most notable human endeavours - why we feel the need to endlessly use the language of the exceptional individual is something I don’t understand.

And this was his personal vision. He would have been a creator whether people liked his work or not, but it happens that his work fired peoples imagination. If people hadn’t liked his work he wouldn’t have dumbed it down and worked with marketers until they did.

Getting away from the question of what it means to be a “creator” of something given that most projects are a team effort, did anyone read the article? Besides Futurama, he created all these ingenious simulator games, including a horse racing simulator that adjusted the horse’s speed based on previous races (so that it wasn’t entirely random but meaningful odds could be assigned to bets). While this sort of thing might be an afternoon’s programming project today, realize that Geddes was doing it all by electromechanical means.

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