Jacque Fresco was born on March 13, 1916, and grew up in a Sephardi Jewish household, at the family's home in Bensonhurst, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. A teenager during the Great Depression, he spent time with friends discussing Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, science, and the future. Fresco attended the Young Communist League before being "physically ejected" for loudly stating that "Karl Marx was wrong!" after a discussion with the league president during a meeting. He left home at the age of 14, hitchhiking and "jumping" trains as one of the so-called "Wild Boys of the Road". He later turned his attention to technocracy.
Fresco worked at Douglas Aircraft Company in California during the late 1930s. He presented designs including a flying wing and a disk-shaped aircraft. Some of his designs were considered impractical at the time and Fresco's design ideas were not adopted. Fresco resigned from Douglas because of design disagreements.
In 1942, Fresco was drafted into the United States Army. He was assigned technical design duties for the United States Army Air Forces at Wright Field design laboratories in Dayton, Ohio. One design he produced was a "radical variable camber wing" with which he attempted to optimize flight control by allowing the pilot to adjust the thickness and lift of the wings during flight. Fresco did not adjust to military life and was discharged.
Model of the Trend Home
Fresco was commissioned by Earl "Madman" Muntz, to design low cost housing. Muntz invested $500,000 seed money in the project. Fresco, 32 years old at the time, along with his associates Harry Giaretto and Eli Catran conceived, designed and engineered a project house called the Trend Home. Fresco came closest to traditional career success with this project. Built mostly of aluminum and glass, it was on prominent display at Stage 8 of the Warner Bros. Sunset Lot in Hollywood for three months. The home could be toured for one dollar, with proceeds going to the Cancer Prevention Society. In the summer of 1948, a Federal Housing Administration official met Muntz about the project. The official's proposal, according to Muntz, would add a bureaucratic overhead negating the low production costs. Without federal or further private funding the project did not go into mass production. This experience led Fresco to the conclusion that society would have to be changed for his inventions to reach their potential.
Scientific Research Laboratories
In the late 1940s, Fresco created and was director of Scientific Research Laboratories in Los Angeles. Here he also gave lectures, and taught technical design, meanwhile researching and working on inventions as a freelance inventor and scientific consultant. During this period, Fresco struggled to get his research funded and faced setbacks and financial difficulties. In 1955, Fresco left California after his laboratory was removed to build the Golden State Freeway.
In 1955 Fresco moved to Miami, Florida. He opened a business as a psychological consultant, but had no formal schooling in the subject. Receiving a "barrage of criticism" from the American Psychological Association Fresco stopped that business. In a newspaper article from that time period Fresco claimed to have a degree from Sierra University, Los Angeles, California, which is unverified.
Fresco described white supremacist organizations he joined to test the feasibility of changing people. He tells of joining a local Ku Klux Klan and White Citizens Council in an attempt to change their views about racial discrimination.
In Miami Fresco presented designs of a circular city. Fresco made his living working as an industrial designer for various companies such as Alcoa and the Major Realty Corporation.
In 1961, with Pietro Belluschi and C. Frederick Wise, Fresco collaborated on a project known as the Sandwich House. Consisting of mostly prefabricated components, partitions, and aluminum, the project sold houses for $2,950, or $7,500 with foundation and all internal installations. During this period, Fresco supported his projects by designing prefabricated aluminum devices through Jacque Fresco Enterprises Inc.
From 1955 to 1969 Fresco named his social ideas "Project Americana".
Looking Forward was published in 1969. Author Ken Keyes Jr., and Jacque Fresco coauthored the book. Looking Forward is a speculative look at the future. The authors picture an ideal 'cybernetic society in which want has been banished and work and personal possessions no longer exist; individual gratification is the total concern'.
Fresco formed "Sociocyberneering", a membership organization claiming 250 members, according to an interview with Fresco. He hosted lectures in Miami Beach and Coral Gables Fresco promoted his organization by lecturing at universities and appearing on radio and television. Although Fresco is presented as a 'Doctor' on the Larry King show there is no evidence of that being the case. Fresco did not complete high school. Fresco's "sociocyberneering" as a membership group was discontinued and land was purchased at another location in rural Venus, Florida. He established his home and research center there.