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See How Clumsy A 'Smart Home' From The 1980s Looks In 2017 And Appreciate How Far We've Come

If you didn’t have an engineering degree, you were going to struggle with this system.

See How Clumsy A 'Smart Home' From The 1980s Looks In 2017 And Appreciate How Far We've Come

The innovation and technology behind the fabled “smart home” have undergone many false starts in previous decades and will undoubtedly endure many more as companies strive to provide homeowners the ideal luxurious solution that has been rumored since the days of “The Jetsons.”

Technology is making many aspects of a smart home more attainable, thanks to the internet of things and the seemingly endless capability of smartphones. While we’re still a long way from having our homes do our chores, we’re much further along in the effort than we were in the 1980s, when the Pico Electronics X-10 Powerhouse served as the neural hub of a home automation system.


To demonstrate just how far we’ve come (and how surprisingly logical, if complicated, the antiquated approach is), Lazy Games Reviews installed the functioning system into a 2017 home to show how the platform, designed in 1975, works.

Launching up an antiquated IBM PC reliant on large floppy disks, the host does an excellent job of explaining not just how this outdated device functions, but also the philosophy behind smart homes at large.

The Powerhouse strives to do a lot of what the more consumer-friendly Nest products do today, but without the processing power or access points. A 1980s user is relegated to a landscape of computer prompts, manual switches, and even power transformers. It’s clear that someone buying and installing this off the shelf would need a fairly extensive background in electronics and programming to get the Powerhouse up and running. But once those hurdles are cleared, it looks like a capable, if not complicated and limited, smart home platform.

After making short work of the Powerhouse, the host moves on to a later 1990s-era system that ups the ante with voice input, which works to varying and inconsistent degrees. In the 20 years or so, one can observe marked progress in the technology, just as, no doubt, in 10 years or so, people might be looking back at the smart homes of 2017 and wondering how we didn’t accidentally burn our homes down.

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