An article in Ladies Home Journal predicted 2001 a century earlier. Heres a video version:
Futurism is a hit and miss business: Fast food is predicted (3:40) but so is the extinction of the horse (3:20). Apparently, the futurist, John Elfreth Watkins, Jr., did not foresee a future for horses in recreation and sports except for the rich.
He predicted the internet and wireless communications in principle (5:57, 13:29): A husband sitting in the middle of the Atlantic will be able to converse with his wife sitting in her boudoir in Chicago. But, surprisingly, he did not see much of a commercial future for the airplane but rather favored dirigibles and electrified ships (8:20ff).
He predicted high-speed trains but also electric sleighs for kids (17:16) Hmm. Did he not pause to think about concussion? No surprise, that idea never took off.
When predicting the future, we all may tend to either underestimate the advances:
The average American will live fifty years, as opposed to thirty-five
US life expectancy was about 78.6 years in 2017, principally due to clean water, healthier living conditions, and emergency medicine.
Or else we overestimate them:
The trip to suburban home to office will require only a few minutes a penny will pay the fare Dreamin
Commenters at YouTube offer some thoughts about what the 1901 futurist got right and wrong:
giant guns will fire 25 miles or more Paris gun 13 years later could fire 81 miles.
The whole well get rid of all the annoying flying bugs- thing showed that we clearly hadnt quite figured out the whole everything is connected aspect of the biosphere.
He predicted spy satellites in space before man had sent anything into space, granted he said theyd be balloons with cameras attached but they describe satellites
2010 looks back on a 1909 prediction, in this case by Nicola Tesla (18561943) in Popular Mechanics:
He wrote in the magazine that, one day it would be possible to transmit wireless messages all over the world.
Tesla, who spent most of his adult life in America before his death in New York in 1943, imagined such a hand-held device would be simple to use and that, one day, everyone in the world would communicate to friends using it.
This, he added, would usher in a new era of technology.
Imagine. A handheld device
2014 looks back on (roughly) 1914s predictions via French vintage postcards popular during the 1900 Worlds Fair and following:
One thing you see in the cards is a tendency to assume some things wont change, even though they undoubtedly will. In one image, a couple flags down an aerotaxi. Thats futuristic enough, but the man is wearing spats and carrying a cane, while she has a parasol and an enormous hat with a feather. Did they really think transportation would undergo a revolution while fashion stayed frozen in time? In every one of these you see a mix of a futuristic concept with stuff that looks to us to be very old fashioned, [collector Ed] Fries said.
At the same time, theres virtually no hint in the postcards of the truly transformative technologies of the last centurynamely personal computers and the internet.
Heres one card (public domain) depicting an aerocab station as seen from 1900:
Some of the jealously guarded cards are shown in this YouTube video.
2018 looks back on 1918s predictions:
On January 6, 1918, the headline of an article in The Washington Times announced that the Automobile of Tomorrow Will Be Constructed Like a Moving Drawing Room. The author was writing about a prediction in Scientific American that described the car of the future. It would be water-tight and weather-proof, with sides made entirely of glass, and seats that could be moved anywhere in the vehicle. It would be decked out with power steering, brakes, heating, and a small control board for navigation. A finger lever would replace the steering wheel. Other designs imagined that cars would roll around on just three wheels, or on air-filled spheres to remove the need for shocks.
So much is right; again, the parts that the futurist gets wrong likely stem from not envisioning practical issues like the increased hazard from smashed glass during a minor collision.
The big disadvantage of making predictions for a century hence is that we probably wont get to find out if they come true.
If you enjoyed this piece, you may also want to look at:
Truth is not only stranger than fiction, it sometimes grows out of it. A senior editor at Wired told us a while back that science fiction writer H. G. Wellss 1914 tale, The World Set Free, formed part of the inspiration for the atomic bomb, exploded over Hiroshima in 1945.
Brilliant vision from a century ago foretells todays internet. In E. M. Forsters dystopia, people interact only through the Machine.
- FUTURIST: Our choices can save lives over the next six months - December 19th, 2020
- Ford futurist: 2020 brought more stress than ever but ... - December 19th, 2020
- This 'futurist-in-chief' says gaming could be bigger than the physical economy - CNN - December 19th, 2020
- Darwinism, Storytelling, and the Futurist ET Myth - Discovery Institute - December 19th, 2020
- Report: Electric Cars Could Be Cheaper Than Gas Ones in Just 2 Years - Futurism - December 19th, 2020
- SpaceX's Next Starship Prototype Could be Headed to Launch Pad on Thursday - Futurism - December 19th, 2020
- NASA Says It Will Fly a Canadian to the Moon - Futurism - December 19th, 2020
- Surgeons Who Operate on Their Birthday Appear to Kill Way More Patients - Futurism - December 19th, 2020
- Creator of Twin Peaks and Velvet Taco gets new CEO, new identity, new focus - Restaurant Business Online - December 19th, 2020
- These are the 5 most valuable skills to learn right now, says futuristand where to find free online courses - CNBC - November 7th, 2020
- Scientists Say They've Found the Missing 40 Percent of the Universe's Matter - Futurism - November 7th, 2020
- New Evidence: There Was Another Planet in the Solar System That Escaped - Futurism - November 7th, 2020
- Scientists Found a Way to Make Infrared Light Visible to Humans - Futurism - November 7th, 2020
- The Neo-Futurists: bringing theatre further into the future - North by Northwestern - November 7th, 2020
- Walmart Is Giving Up on Its Inventory Robots - Futurism - November 7th, 2020
- US Government Seizes $1 Billion in Silk Road Bitcoin - Futurism - November 7th, 2020
- Scientists in Japan Build Robot to Hold Hands With Lonely People - Futurism - November 7th, 2020
- MIT Algorithm Detects COVID-19 in the Sound of Your Cough - Futurism - November 7th, 2020
- If This COVID-Blocking Nasal Spray Works on Humans, It Could Change the Course of the Pandemic - Futurism - November 7th, 2020
- Amazon Patent Makes the Most Horrible Gamers Play With Each Other - Futurism - November 7th, 2020
- Starlink Beta Has Outperformed Most Internet in the US - Futurism - November 7th, 2020
- These are the Skills and Mindsets of the Leader of the Future - Entrepreneur - November 7th, 2020
- Our Soil is Poised To Release Billions of Tons of Carbon - Futurism - November 7th, 2020
- Martian Meteorites Show Red Planet Had Water Billions of Years Ago - Futurism - November 7th, 2020
- The Futurist art movement tried its hand at cooking, with unappetizing results - The A.V. Club - September 26th, 2020
- What could our lives be like in 2025? Futurists think Americans may eat, fly and go to school differently post-COVID - USA TODAY - September 26th, 2020
- Scientists Claim to Find First-Ever Planet in Another Galaxy - Futurism - September 26th, 2020
- Global Motorcycle Rental Market provides a futurist Forecast of the market growth in the post-COVID-19 scenario - Verdant News - September 26th, 2020
- Global Outsourced Semiconductor Assembly and Test (OSAT) Market provides a futurist Forecast of the market growth in the post-COVID-19 scenario -... - September 26th, 2020
- Earth Appears to Be Capturing a Tiny New Moon - Futurism - September 26th, 2020
- Global Floating Wind Turbines Market provides a futurist Forecast of the market growth in the post-COVID-19 scenario - The Daily Chronicle - September 26th, 2020
- Beijing motor show - Infiniti QX60 preview | Automotive Industry Analysis - just-auto.com - September 26th, 2020
- Life May Have Hopped From Earth to Venus on Asteroid, Scientists Say - Futurism - September 26th, 2020
- Tesla's "Plaid" Model S is Real and It's Fast as Hell - Futurism - September 26th, 2020
- Russia Wants to Be the First to Shoot a Movie In Space - Futurism - September 26th, 2020
- The International Space Station Had to Dodge a Piece of Space Junk Last Night - Futurism - September 26th, 2020
- The new concept from Great Wall was similar to the Volga - The Times Hub - September 26th, 2020
- NASA Is Heading to the Far Side of the Moon to Study the Ancient Universe - Futurism - September 26th, 2020
- Astronomers Spot Bits of Entirely Different Asteroid on Surface of Bennu - Futurism - September 26th, 2020
- Scientists Claim to Have Proved That Crows Have Conscious Experiences - Futurism - September 26th, 2020
- NASA and the US Space Force Are Officially Teaming Up - Futurism - September 26th, 2020
- Astronomers Discover "Pi Earth" Planet That Orbits Every 3.14 Days - Futurism - September 26th, 2020
- SETI Team Increases Number of Stars That Might Host Life by 200x - Futurism - September 4th, 2020
- Fauci: We Could Cut Trials Short and Give Out COVID Vaccine "Right Now" - Futurism - September 4th, 2020
- Chadwick Bosemans Wakanda: Afro-Futurism Is in the Present - Common Dreams - September 4th, 2020
- Scientists Are Running Out of Primates to Test Vaccines On - Futurism - September 4th, 2020
- Futurist says coronavirus could last for years 'like the Great Depression' - Mirror Online - July 5th, 2020
- Climate Change Threatens 60 Percent of the World's Fish Species - Futurism - July 5th, 2020
- This Scientist Says He's Built a Jet Engine That Turns Electricity Directly Into Thrust - Futurism - July 5th, 2020
- One Particular Spot on Earth Is Getting Colder Instead of Hotter - Futurism - July 5th, 2020
- The Large Hadron Collider Just Discovered a Brand-New Particle - Futurism - July 5th, 2020
- Scientists Say They've Found the Exact Center of the Solar System - Futurism - July 5th, 2020
- When Futurism Meets With Disaster: Max Brooks' Devolution - tor.com - July 5th, 2020
- Extremely Dubious Scientist Believes There's Mushrooms and Lichen on Mars - Futurism - July 5th, 2020
- This Forest Fire Was So Huge, NASA Spotted It From Space - Futurism - July 5th, 2020
- 5 Ways Brands Can Take Meaningful Action During This Time - Forbes - July 5th, 2020
- NASA Invents Wearable That Scolds You For Touching Your Face - Futurism - July 5th, 2020
- Researchers Say You Can Improve Your Eyesight by Staring at This Specific Type of Light - Futurism - July 5th, 2020
- Even With Insurance, the COVID Drug Remdesivir Is Shockingly Expensive - Futurism - July 5th, 2020
- Augmented Human: 5 Times Ive Used Technology To Augment Myself - Forbes - July 5th, 2020
- A Giant Star Appears to Have Winked Out of Existence - Futurism - July 5th, 2020
- Introducing the Campus Technology Insider Podcast - Campus Technology - June 24th, 2020
- This is What Sunsets on Other Planets Would Look Like - Futurism - June 24th, 2020
- Astronomers May Have Discovered First-Ever Black Neutron Star - Futurism - June 24th, 2020
- NASA: Next Moon Astronauts Will Hike 10 Miles on Lunar Surface - Futurism - June 24th, 2020
- As fashion resets, its algorithms should too - Vogue Business - June 24th, 2020
- China Is Building a Genetic Database of Every Man in the Country - Futurism - June 24th, 2020
- The Death of the Open-Plan Office? Not Quite, but a Revolution is in the Air - Nextgov - June 24th, 2020
- Freestyle Acquires Divos!; Docs The Prison Within & Superhuman Find Homes; Random Media Takes Opus Of An Angel Film Deal Briefs - Deadline - June 24th, 2020
- Nicholas Mallis' Final Station, And More Music News and Gossip | Flagpole - Flagpole Magazine - June 24th, 2020
- Renewal Shows the Possibility of a Better World Post-Covid - Press Release - Digital Journal - June 24th, 2020
- Working from home is missing something that only offices and cities can provide - MarketWatch - June 24th, 2020
- Futurist site: Flamingo Land thanked for 'sticking with us'; remarketing the site 'would not be appropriate' says council's deputy leader - The... - June 20th, 2020
- How a global pandemic is changing the world: Part 1 - SmartBrief - June 20th, 2020
- Step into 2030: Join The Drum's futurist session to hear what the next decade holds - The Drum - June 13th, 2020
- This Flying Car Looks Like the DeLorean From "Back to the Future" - Futurism - June 13th, 2020
- Bad News: Another Deadly Virus Is Spreading in the US - Futurism - June 13th, 2020
- This Guy Accidentally Took a Photo That Crashes Android Smartphones - Futurism - June 13th, 2020
- Coronavirus live updates: Here's what to know in South Florida on June 12 - msnNOW - June 13th, 2020
- Scientists Claim the Universe Is Actually Flat - Futurism - June 13th, 2020