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These 19th Century Postcards Predicted Our Future

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the radium-powered-central-heat dept.

Science 157

kkleiner writes "Starting in 1899, a commercial artist named Jean-Marc Côté and other artists were hired to create a series of picture cards to depict how life in France would look in a century's time. Sadly, they were never actually distributed. However, the only known set of cards to exist was discovered by Isaac Asimov, who wrote a book in 1986 called 'Futuredays' in which he presented the illustrations with commentary. What's amazing about this collection is how close their predictions were in a lot of cases, and how others are close at hand."

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cue the french bashing in 1, 2, 3 (3, Funny)

hguorbray (967940) | about 2 years ago | (#41664329)

hopefully there will at least be some snide references to 'french postcards'

-I'm just sayin'

Re:cue the french bashing in 1, 2, 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41664359)

cue the french bashing in 1, 2, 3

If you're going to count up instead of down, you should write "queue" for the full frosty piss package.

Re:cue the french bashing in 1, 2, 3 (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 2 years ago | (#41664435)

He made a stack (of postcards?) instead of a queue. Give him a break!

Re:cue the french bashing in 1, 2, 3 (2)

nschubach (922175) | about 2 years ago | (#41665033)

His username is the inverse of Yarbrough... which, upon cursory Internet searching could mean he's a UFC cage fighter, a fan of the Tour de France, or just someone that loves getting things backwards.

Re:cue the french bashing in 1, 2, 3 (4, Funny)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about 2 years ago | (#41664369)

Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time!

Re:cue the french bashing in 1, 2, 3 (2)

Eyeball97 (816684) | about 2 years ago | (#41665873)

Non, non, non... No need to wait for 3...2...1... for French bashing, just get stuck right in there.

Wait... cue in 1, 2, 3????

Are you French?

Predictions (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41664381)

The problem with predictions is that if you make enough of them, whether vague or detailed, you'll find some of them came true. That is not surprising in and of itself, but some people take this as proof of something. But it's not proof, because they aren't looking at all the predictions that didn't come true, or weren't close. It's all about coincidence and the laws of probability -- things that are highly improbable by themselves can become highly probable with repetition or over time. So even if one of the greatest minds of the time predicted all these things for the future that came true, we cannot consider them in isolation -- we also have to consider all the things predicted that didn't come true.

Mr. Newton would have understood that as a scientist, and if he could be conjured up from the dead to utter a few words on this, he'd likely agree.

Re:Predictions (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41664437)

You want to discuss amazing predictions? These postcards from 1899 predicted Nostradamus would monopolize the History Channel!

Re:Predictions (5, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41664769)

You want to discuss amazing predictions? These postcards from 1899 predicted Nostradamus would monopolize the History Channel!

He also predicted impossibly-thin french women doing chores for you. But you're still in mom's basement, your room is a mess, and your girlfriend, while impossibly thin, is only that way because you haven't patched the hole in her yet...

Re:Predictions (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41664889)

Somebody's bitchy. Must be that time of the month.

Re:Predictions (3, Funny)

paiute (550198) | about 2 years ago | (#41665427)

Somebody's bitchy. Must be that time of the month.

What - when the Comcast bill arrives?

Re:Predictions (4, Insightful)

isorox (205688) | about 2 years ago | (#41664471)

The problem with predictions is that if you make enough of them, whether vague or detailed, you'll find some of them came true. That is not surprising in and of itself, but some people take this as proof of something. But it's not proof, because they aren't looking at all the predictions that didn't come true, or weren't close. It's all about coincidence and the laws of probability -- things that are highly improbable by themselves can become highly probable with repetition or over time. So even if one of the greatest minds of the time predicted all these things for the future that came true, we cannot consider them in isolation -- we also have to consider all the things predicted that didn't come true.

Mr. Newton would have understood that as a scientist, and if he could be conjured up from the dead to utter a few words on this, he'd likely agree.

What amazes me is the things which weren't predicted. Even as recently as the 80s and early 90s, films of the future had flying cars (3 years, 5 days to go!), robots, space ships, etc.

Very few got the internet, or the pervalence of pocket computing and connectivity that we take for granted 20 years later.

Re:Predictions (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41664827)

What amazes me is the things which weren't predicted.

The future can't be predicted with any certainty beyond only the smallest of timeframes -- the further you look out, the more likely something major that you couldn't anticipate will significantly impact the prediction being made. Nobody could have predicted in 2000 that we'd be looking at the longest period of economic downturn ever seen in this country's history (if not globally). But all it took was a few airplanes slamming into the side of some buildings to cause radical shifts in our way of life, our economy, etc. There's nothing particularly amazing about that.

Very few got the internet, or the pervalence of pocket computing and connectivity that we take for granted 20 years later.

Even in the late 90s, when the technology was already on the market, people still didn't see its importance. Babylon 5, considered at the time as one of the most progressive scifi shows of the era, showed people on space stations standing in line to get newspapers dispensed by computers. It was inconceivable even then that computers would replace printed media. And that was at a time when exactly that was starting to happen right under their noses.

The future can't be predicted. That's what makes living so worthwhile: What kind of life would it be if we knew what would happen tomorrow?

Re:Predictions (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41665727)

Even in the late 90s, when the technology was already on the market, people still didn't see its importance. Babylon 5, considered at the time as one of the most progressive scifi shows of the era, showed people on space stations standing in line to get newspapers dispensed by computers. It was inconceivable even then that computers would replace printed media. And that was at a time when exactly that was starting to happen right under their noses.

I can remember an article in PC Format magazine from somewhere in the early-mid 90s, making predictions for the future. One of them was for the "magazine of the future" (i.e., on a computer), with no linear page numbering, everything just hyperlinked, embedded video clips, etc. Seemed pretty out there at the time but was, as it turns out, very accurate.

Re:Predictions (0)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 2 years ago | (#41665753)

> The future can't be predicted with any certainty beyond only the smallest of timeframes
False.

Counter-Examples:
* Within 20 years everyone will _know_ that we are not alone.
* Within 100 years Judaism, Christianity, and Islam will be united (finally!)
* Within 200 years both South America and Africa will have their own global currencies.
I could go on, but there would be no point.

That said, the future is indeed dynamic. The further you go out from the present the more potentials there are. Regardless there is a galactic time-frame for everything, whether we are conscious of it (or not.)

> The future can't be predicted by most people [as there is no need to.]
FTFY.

> What kind of life would it be if we knew what would happen tomorrow?
There would be numerous benefits. One that life would be a-hell-of lot more efficient, to start with.

Counter-example: Parents realize that one day they will die and their children will survive them. That doesn't stop them from enjoying their children every day.

The point isn't about the destination (fate) but about the enjoying the journey (free will) along the way.

Re:Predictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41666035)

The future can't be predicted. That's what makes living so worthwhile: What kind of life would it be if we knew what would happen tomorrow?

Exactly. The best way to predict the future is to invent it. [wikiquote.org] Alan Kay

Re:Predictions (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41666165)

Babylon 5, considered at the time as one of the most progressive scifi shows of the era, showed people on space stations standing in line to get newspapers dispensed by computers. It was inconceivable even then that computers would replace printed media.

And another from this incredibly interesting 1972 Rolling Stone article: [wheels.org] "One popular new feature on the Net is AI's Associated Press service. From anywhere on the Net you can log in and get the news that's coming live over the wire or ask for all the items on a particular subject that have come in during the last 24 hours. Plus a fortune cookie. Project that to household terminals, and so much for newspapers (in present form)."

Re:Predictions (5, Insightful)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 2 years ago | (#41666299)

"all it took was a few airplanes slamming into the side of some buildings to cause radical shifts in our way of life, our economy, etc."

I've got 2 issues with your statement:

1- I'm not sure there have been *major shifts* in your way of life and your economy. What are you thinking about ?

2- What changes there have been, I'm not sure where due to the planes crashing. The housing bubble was there for the pricking, it was bound to burst at some point; the banking system had been running amok on the path of max.rewards for its workers and owners regardless of risk or sense for a while (glass-steagall repeal ?); I remember back when I was in college (and that's 20 yrs back), my econ prof telling us the US Auto industry had insolvable pensions liabilities that would require a bankruptcy and/or bailouts.

And a more general issue: that comment is very US-centric.

There are other predictions that are easy to make:

- A major political party embracing bigotry and idiocy can only lead to strife. Usually the bigots/idiots have to start from scratch, which makes success harder. But if they succeeded, their lies and idiocies can't sustain them in power, and they need to resort to external and internal violence. We're seeing a bit of that already.

- Economic upheaval can lead to regime change. that's what caused the French revolution. At some point, the low and middle class will realize they are being fleeced by the corrupt and the mega-rich (and that both are often the same), and will react.

- Dependency on foreign oil and money can only make a state economically weaker and politically more quixotic.

Re:Predictions (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41666327)

The future ain't what it used to be.

Re:Predictions (1)

chrismcb (983081) | about 2 years ago | (#41665379)

That is because flying cars are easier to see on film than the internet. I've read more books that predicted the internet than have predicted flying cars.

Re:Predictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41665799)

Mobile phones. Even as recently as 1980, when cellphones were already a reality, nobody saw the ubiquitous pocket phone coming.

(Someone always brings up the Star Trek communicator at this point, but that's bollocks. The communicator was basically a walkie-talkie, not attached to a phone network and only carried by a few elite people.)

Re:Predictions (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41665997)

"Even as recently as 1980, when cellphones were already a reality, nobody saw the ubiquitous pocket phone coming."

Well, I HAD a cellphone (okay, 1985 was my first) and DID imagine, so I guess predict, that in a relatively short space of time it would fit in my pocket (and be far more commonplace).

How was I able to achieve this miraculous feat. It's called common sense. By 1985 I'd already seen the massive "radiogram" my father had transform into a pocket radio, cassette tape recorder, shortly thereafter walkmans and CD's.

Come to think of it, imagining miniaturisation didn't even require a great deal of common sense. Just a functioning brain.

Not sure yours was functioning when you chose the telephone as an example.

Re:Predictions (3, Informative)

drkim (1559875) | about 2 years ago | (#41666181)

Mobile phones. Even as recently as 1980, when cellphones were already a reality, nobody saw the ubiquitous pocket phone coming.

1980?

How about Dick Tracy in 1946?
http://f00.inventorspot.com/images/Dt2wrr.jpg [inventorspot.com]

Re:Predictions (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 2 years ago | (#41666661)

That's a mobile radio like police uses untill today, but no telephone.

But even that wasn't unheard of then. The first mobile phone network in Germany has been set up in 1958. So mobile phones have been a reality since then, not only in the 80s

Re:Predictions (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#41666671)

The communicator was basically a walkie-talkie, not attached to a phone network and only carried by a few elite people.

It's been a while since I watched Star Trek, but I think this is wrong on two counts. First, it was a fully switched network: every call started with '{caller} to {callee}' and then the network made the connection. Second, the show almost never touched on civilians within the Federation except (occasionally) those on frontiers, so there's no evidence that they were not carried by everyone (although presumably Star Fleet had their own version with longer range and a more generic and uniform case than the civilian models). We did see that most civilian comms traffic involved fixed terminals, but only because the ones we saw were video conferences, and these tend to be much more convenient if you have a big screen and somewhere to sit.

Re:Predictions (3, Interesting)

IorDMUX (870522) | about 2 years ago | (#41665809)

What amazes me is the things which weren't predicted.

Look to the authors to find better predictions. Greg Bear predicted the future of the internet and media fairly well in Queen of Angels in 1990, and William Gibson actually invented the term "Cyberspace" (not to mention the entire cyberpunk genre) in 1984 with his novel Neuromancer.

Re:Predictions (2)

dgatwood (11270) | about 2 years ago | (#41666261)

Very few got the internet, or the prevalence of pocket computing and connectivity that we take for granted 20 years later.

Star Trek had the basic concept of portable computing in the late 1960s, albeit crudely. And I'm pretty sure that there were folks predicting it long before that.

Mark Twain predicted the Internet in the late 1800s [thetyee.ca] . Not precisely, of course—who would have thought that text-based communications would actually make a comeback—but he pretty much described the concept of a worldwide communication network with webcams where you could see and hear what was going on around the world... in an era when computers were mechanical devices, when television was basically still in the hypothetical stage, etc.

What people didn't predict was that we would clog up those pipes with advertising....

Re:Predictions (3, Interesting)

TheMathemagician (2515102) | about 2 years ago | (#41666789)

"There is no practical obstacle whatever now to the creation of an efficient index to all human knowledge, ideas and achievements, to the creation, that is, of a complete planetary memory for all mankind. And not simply an index; the direct reproduction of the thing itself can be summoned to any properly prepared spot. A microfilm, coloured where necessary, occupying an inch or so of space and weighing little more than a letter, can be duplicated from the records and sent anywhere, and thrown enlarged upon the screen so that the student may study it in every detail." H.G.Wells, "The World Brain" 1937 I'd say that was a reasonable prediction of the internet.

Re:Predictions (1)

tgmarks (2624405) | about 2 years ago | (#41664483)

So is the probability on the end of the predictor, selecting from a range of likely events, or on the future of which events came to pass?

Re:Predictions (4, Informative)

lobiusmoop (305328) | about 2 years ago | (#41664541)

It has a name - apophenia [wikipedia.org] . We unconsciously fit the predictions to the present and thus give them more credence than they deserve.

Re:Predictions (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#41666693)

No, what he's describing is selection bias: we claim predictions work because we look at the 1% that did work and then ignore the rest. This is the basis for a very simple stock scam. You set up 10 funds, all investing in random things. Some perform better than average, some worse. You liquidate the ones that do worse and then invite people to invest in the remaining ones (with a healthy commission, of course) and the disclaimer that past results don't necessarily reflect future performance. They will see a fund performing 20% better than the rest of the market and not see the one that you quietly closed that did 20% worse, so assume you have amazing insight and invest. You then pocket the commission and keep investing randomly. Your next guesses may or may not be profitable, but you can keep getting new people in for a while because the graphs look like a little downwards dip on a fund that usually goes up (which may mean now is a really good time to invest in it). By the time it's back down at the market average, you've made a healthy profit.

Re:Predictions (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41664593)

Yes, but who could ever have predicted that a Russian would subvert the revenue stream from the entire American propaganda industry using a popularity measurement and charging less than a tenth of a penny per ad?

Thanks Sergei! Just stay the hell away from politics, we don't need your help dismantling that.

Re:Predictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41664679)

These aren't predictions in the sense of fortune telling. They are extrapolations in a scifi sense, and turned out to be pretty close. They don't prove anything, nobody is talking about psychics here. Its just that it was interesting that someone made pictures of these extrapolations. Arthur C Clarke did the same thing, as did Jules Verne, etc.

They are just drawings, not proof of some mental power. Sheesh.

Re:Predictions (1)

chrismcb (983081) | about 2 years ago | (#41665419)

The problem with predictions

These aren't predictions. Predictions are "The world will end in 2012"
These are simply a thought experiment. Take the known technology, and and scientists are discussing, and extrapolate it out a few years. It is what science fiction writers do. They get some things right, and some wrong.
What I find amusing is what they thought would improve, and what wouldn't. Wires would still exist. And why they could conceiving pushing a button could do something, three would still be a need for the push lever. It was like they figured out what technology would exist in the future, then transplanted it to their time line.

Re:Predictions (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | about 2 years ago | (#41666539)

If you RTFA (and please do on this occasion- it has pretty pictures and everything) you'll see they do show the ones that didn't come true too.

Ultimately it's not about "correct predictions" though- it's about seeing what the people of 100 years ago thought the world would be like in the future. The fact that many of their wildest dreams have actually more or less come true is pretty fascinating.

Re:Predictions (1)

azalin (67640) | about 2 years ago | (#41666601)

My favorite being the radium powered heater.

Re:Predictions (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#41666723)

It's actually a good hint for people wanting to write realistic science fiction: stay away from describing the mechanism. A machine for cleaning your floors is a really obvious prediction to make because everyone has floors that need cleaning and no one likes doing it. A Heath Robinson contraption with brooms and dustpans, however, is a bad prediction because that's just the best that was available with the artist's grasp of the technology of the day. Something like the roomba would be quite easy to predict in visual form: a little box that crawls over your floor and cleans it, with no mention made of its interior workings. The same is true of a number of the other advances described. They produce effects like ones we have today, and they do so because those effects are things people want. They don't, however, work by the mechanisms described.

As soon as digital data storage became possible, it was possible to predict electronic books, for example. Lots of people had big libraries of books and these are very hard to move around. Being able to have a book-sized device that can be any book you want is an obviously desirable goal. It wasn't until the invention of the LCD display that it became possible to make such a thing, but if you'd written science fiction in the '30s you wouldn't have needed to describe how the display worked, just say that it's something like a sheet of paper that can show any image you want. And, if you were particularly clever, you might realise that if this is possible then it can also show any film, as well as any book.

Flying postal carrier (4, Funny)

Mullen (14656) | about 2 years ago | (#41664405)

I have been trying to get my local postal carrier to deliver my mail to my balcony via Ultra Light, but she keeps pointing out that that would expensive, dangerous and I only live on the 2nd floor. Some people just can't see the future.

Re:Flying postal carrier (1)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about 2 years ago | (#41664637)

Got to wonder how much longer we will really need postal carriers. I think I'll be sending a total of about 10 pieces of physical mail for the entire 2012 year, down from about 20 the year before. Not even 10 years ago, I was sending that many per week. Between email, online bill pay, and DropBox, there's hardly ever a reason for me to buy postage anymore, either for my business or personally. Heck, even greeting cards are nearly all e-cards now.

Re:Flying postal carrier (1)

azalin (67640) | about 2 years ago | (#41666649)

Got to wonder how much longer we will really need postal carriers. I think I'll be sending a total of about 10 pieces of physical mail for the entire 2012 year, down from about 20 the year before. Not even 10 years ago, I was sending that many per week. Between email, online bill pay, and DropBox, there's hardly ever a reason for me to buy postage anymore, either for my business or personally. Heck, even greeting cards are nearly all e-cards now.

So you don't shop online?
While private mail has probably declined, the amount of commercial shipping (to the consumer) has soared. People by tons of stuff on amazon, ebay or from small companies that cater to a specific niche. They even sell stuff themselves online through ebay.

Re:Flying postal carrier (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41664639)

Some people just can't see the future.

Or maybe they just don't want to see you.

Re:Flying postal carrier (2)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#41665807)

Just like most predictions, these missed what actually happened. Though we did automate many manual tasks, and we do have a robot that cleans floors, what was actually automated to lead to the future we are in was the computer, that is the people who would add numbers to other numbers to create the navigational table, the bank statements, the mathematical treatise. Because this, after all, is all the computer is. In much science fiction up until computer actually existed, these calculations were done by hand. Spacecraft were depicted with auto medical bays, but navigation was still done by hand with books.

Yes, these cards did predict robots, but saying they predicted the future would be like a person from the iron age building a cylinder and saying he predicted rockets. It is one thing to take current technology and extrapolate a straight line to the future. It is quite another to predict the divergent thought that will lead to what is the real future.

For instance, a sewing machine does not sew like a human, and have pictures of mechanical hands sewing does not predict the sewing machine. We use fixed wing aircraft that does not flap. Most computing machines did not do additions very quickly, the almost exception being the Difference Engine, and we can do calculus on a computer but still not iron a shirt.

Yes imagining a future is important to progress. But I no longer wish for a flying car, and can think no one that imagined the music industry has meet it's end when TI or Fairchild, take you pick, create the NAND gate.

Site commentary for last few postcards (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41664417)

I don't know why accelerating maturity in some animals would be considered a "bad idea" or using radium to warm a house if foolproof containment unit could be devised..

Why you could even call it a "nuclear power plant" or something..

Accelerating maturity in some animals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41664527)

the way chickens and turkeys are raised today?

Re:Site commentary for last few postcards (4, Insightful)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 2 years ago | (#41664779)

A fool-proof containment unit for radium wouldn't heat the house...

Re:Site commentary for last few postcards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41666835)

*woosh*

Hence the whole "nuclear power plant" comment right below that..

Radium Series [wikipedia.org]

I see no black people in the pictures. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41664419)

Not accurate.

Re:I see no black people in the pictures. (1)

azalin (67640) | about 2 years ago | (#41666677)

Troll feeding and all, but living in France a hundred years ago he probably never saw a black person until he traveled a lot. And even if he did, there would have been only a handful even in Paris.

They missed the 3 most important inventions (5, Insightful)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about 2 years ago | (#41664463)

They missed the 3 inventions that have done the most to promote health and prolong human life expectancy: toilets, refrigerators, and water treatment plants.

Re:They missed the 3 most important inventions (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41664495)

Haven't you seen the three sea shells in one of those postcards?

Re:They missed the 3 most important inventions (1)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about 2 years ago | (#41664573)

Haven't you seen the three sea shells in one of those postcards?

No, but there should have at least been a robot to toss the contents of the chamber pots out the window and onto unsuspecting passers-by.

Re:They missed the 3 most important inventions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41665209)

The toilet is older than these postcards. Ignoring things like King Minos' toilet in Crete or Queen Elizabeth's toilet in England, a hotel installed toilets as early as 1829: http://inventors.about.com/od/pstartinventions/a/Plumbing_3.htm [about.com]

Re:They missed the 3 most important inventions (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41665407)

toilets, refrigerators, and water treatment plants.

Dude. In 1899 they already had _all_ of those.

Re:They missed the 3 most important inventions (1)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about 2 years ago | (#41665953)

Yes, but indoor toilets were not common until 20 years later. Home refrigerators with compressors were not invented until 1914-1916. It wasn't until the 1940's until most municipalities in the US had treated water, and until the 1970's that the developed nations passed safe drinking water laws and required more industrial waste to be removed from the water. And billions of folks still don't have access to these simple, life-saving inventions.

Re:They missed the 3 most important inventions (2)

Sique (173459) | about 2 years ago | (#41666309)

I beg to differ. I've grown up in a house built in 1894 with an indoor toilette for each appartement (albeit not part of the appartement itself, but with a separate entrance from the corridor).
So yes, the concept of an indoor outhouse was no "prediction for the future" in 1889. And the first sewage plant in my home country was built in 1882, so no futural concept either.

Re:They missed the 3 most important inventions (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#41666367)

Yes, but indoor toilets were not common until 20 years later. Home refrigerators with compressors were not invented until 1914-1916. It wasn't until the 1940's until most municipalities in the US had treated water, and until the 1970's that the developed nations passed safe drinking water laws and required more industrial waste to be removed from the water.

And billions of folks still don't have access to these simple, life-saving inventions.

..the postcards weren't from US or about inventions already made.

the postcards have been featured many times on light science mags and websites already though..

Re:They missed the 3 most important inventions (1)

stymy (1223496) | about 2 years ago | (#41665687)

Actually, I believe that the ancient romans had flushing toilets. Rich romans also used iceboxes, packed with snow brought down in insulated barrels from the mountains.

Re:They missed the 3 most important inventions (2)

azalin (67640) | about 2 years ago | (#41666715)

Actually, I believe that the ancient romans had flushing toilets. Rich romans also used iceboxes, packed with snow brought down in insulated barrels from the mountains.

Not exactly flushing, but close. They used to have running water under the toilets. Works just as well, but needs more water. Number one on the other hand, was also collected in conveniently placed pots/amphorae in the streets and used by the clothing industry.

Re:They missed the 3 most important inventions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41666829)

You forgot the pill and abortion.

lame (1, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#41664489)

Same old lame story... People a long time ago predicted that people in the future would get what they want with technology. Fast forward to today, and people have amazingly gotten what they want via technology! All be it, in entirely different ways than predicted, but lets not let that stop a journalist with a deadline from filing a cookie cutter article!

Re:lame (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | about 2 years ago | (#41664947)

When I was 21, I looked around, and realized I had everything I wanted when I was 17. When I was 25, I had the things I still dreamed of when I was 21. Now, at 32, I've got what I wanted at 25.

It wasn't obvious to me at the time, although it is now--you tend to get what you want because you try to get it. Even if it's not a desired outcome, making a prediction can put something in your mind, or others' minds, to the point that it happens. Self-fulfilling prophecy at its finest.

Re:lame (2)

jcfandino (2196932) | about 2 years ago | (#41665999)

Looks like consumerism, a new luxury is created by media/culture and a few years later the market has it ready for you, you've been waiting for it, so it becomes a need you cannot live without.

Re:lame (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41666191)

I can totally see where you're coming from. It's now 12:26 where I'm at. At 08:00 I thought that by 12:00 I wouldn't be hungry - and after brunch at 11:30, I wasn't!

Things like that happen to me all the time. I used to think I was psychic but now thanks to you, I can see how wrong I was.

Re:lame (4, Insightful)

tbird81 (946205) | about 2 years ago | (#41665269)

I agree. And I doubt these were even "predictions", more like fun cliches and what-ifs. It's the same as how many movies think that everyone in the future will wear vinyl clothing.

It is painful trying to watch the writer compare the postcard to something either Google or Apple have made (rather than saying the generic term), then explaining that the prediction was "not far off".

Then to top it off, he states some of the postcards as bad ideas. Such as rapidly turning eggs into baby chicks. This idea could revolutionise the poultry industry! But it's bad! Then there's the heater with the glow: the author interprets it as radium, but it might just be electricity and be quite correct. Or it might be contained nuclear fusion, and the illustrator just got the timing wrong by 1000 years.

A pathetic, lame, cliched, "lol at predictions from the past" story. I find it interesting to see the pictures, but the commentary makes me cringe more than Cringely.

Re:lame (1)

azalin (67640) | about 2 years ago | (#41666729)

I would even say the egg to chicken automaton exists and is in use by the poultry industry. While it does take a little longer than one might guess from the picture, the whole process of chicken production is quite automated.

Re:lame (1)

chrismcb (983081) | about 2 years ago | (#41665397)

It isn't a lame story. It is interesting to think what people thought would happen.

Same Style (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 2 years ago | (#41664493)

And today Google is celebrating Winsor McCay. I know when I was young that I looked at these old drawings to envision the future. Tall buildings and lots of Zeppelins. Technology does have a way of defining how things look. Good printing technology 100 years ago did have a specific style.

LOL, plainly French (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41664649)

What do you suppose the artist who drew this card [singularityhub.com] had on his mind. Oh maybe he thought for just a moment about air travel, but plainly his mind wandered.

explaining our world to a 19th century person... (5, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 2 years ago | (#41664655)

Many of the things we know today, and even take for granted, would be seen as pure magic to a person from the 19th century.

Take for instance something we are all on (precariously) friendly terms with, like the integrated circuit.

The finer points of how an IC work (such as the quantum nature of the bandgap, especially at nanoscopic scales) would be nearly incomprehensible to such a person.

Fiberoptic communication, with such strange things as helical polarization would bake their noodles, not to mention such curious things as the GPS network. (Einstein didn't come along until much later. GPS wouldn't work without SR, due to earth's frame dragging.)

Or even just the workings inside a cellphone, or just a microwave oven.

They might have been able to imagin the basic concept of the device, (eg, "portable wireless telephone"), but the signal encoding stratagems used to get the most from limited commodities of wireless band? In an age without computers, the math involved would be frightening! Something like 4096bit RSA ecryption would induce nightmares. (Just the mere notion that somebody might be willing to *try* factoring a number like that would cause dumbstruck expressions of incredulity. Let alone people routinely attempting to attack the problem from a myriad of different theoretical angles, and the impetus to do so.)

Others that would floor people from the 19th century, would be ENGINEERING microbes. They often felt that complete eradication of germs was desirable. (Just read the last part of "the time machine") As such, the very idea of creating new ones would be cognitatively jarring. Using engineered viruses for gene therapy and the like would seem backward and regressive to their views.

Wells' time traveler would be astounded, and confounded simultaneously by our modern world.

Here's a clever thought experiment for you: imagine H.G. Wells dropping in for a sunset view from his time machine at a nude beach, asking politely for a newspaper and being laughed at, going to a delapidated paper book library, and told by a 10 year old that he could have all the books in the entire world litterally in the palm of his hand. Expose him to the radical idea of the internet, then expose him to 4chan (or worse, a site dedicated to 'rule 34'), and reveal the shocking truth that most people use the internet for pornographic entertainment instead of personal improvement. (Remember, 19th century sexual repressedness)

My money would be on the time traveler being convinced we are all incurably insane, rushing back to his time machine, and wondering how it all went so terribly wrong.

Really, our world more strongly resembles the various "decadent decline" models of the fiction of their time, where people are depicted as being unacceptably vulgar, evil, and jaded. (Take for instance, the descriptions of the decadent residents of k'n-yan, from lovecraft's novels [wikipedia.org] ) A short, 10 minute exposure to witnessing an online FPS shooter, with 8 year olds "teabagging" people, [youtube.com] with the conception that "this routinely happens" would surely sinch it.

Our world would traumatize people from the 19th century.

Re:explaining our world to a 19th century person.. (4, Interesting)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about 2 years ago | (#41664801)

I probably should mod your great post up, but I'll post instead.

This reminds me more of the Douglas Adams Hitchhikers series science fiction, where Authur Dent gets stuck in an alien spaceship and alien people and it's all just weird and incomprehensible to him. That's what 100 years in the future would be to us without understanding the inbetween 99 years. Alien.

Re:explaining our world to a 19th century person.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41665167)

So basically you're saying that our time would be Futurama to his 1880's mind?

Re:explaining our world to a 19th century person.. (3, Insightful)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 2 years ago | (#41665201)

Worse.

The 1880s were still deely gripped by puritanism, social stratification as being a good thing, institutionalized racism, and a very narrow and rigid view of what was considered "acceptable", and "proper".

We aren't talking a comical spin on modern problems with aliens and silly technologies.

Think about what *we* consider unspeakable. THAT, times 9000.

I doubt that a 19th century time traveler would have a sufficiently powerful adjective to describe what he would see, and how he would percieve it.

Re:explaining our world to a 19th century person.. (2)

Harvey Manfrenjenson (1610637) | about 2 years ago | (#41665449)

The Victorians were actually quite fond of pornography. So I don't think Mr. Wells would be shocked to learn that we are, too.

In other respects, though, I think your post is dead on.

Re:explaining our world to a 19th century person.. (0)

opusman (33143) | about 2 years ago | (#41666379)

The 1880s were still deely gripped by puritanism, social stratification as being a good thing, institutionalized racism, and a very narrow and rigid view of what was considered "acceptable", and "proper".

Sounds just like the USA circa 2012!

Re:explaining our world to a 19th century person.. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41665197)

But what's interesting, too, are the many things people from the 19th century could and did imagine, and thought relatively simple, which still elude us today.

Take dictation devices, for example. It's an incredible challenge for us to do a good enough job with speech recognition to use them for actually transcribing documents. Google Now and Siri are jokes by comparison with what many futurists in the 19th century thought wouldn't be that hard: how many of them would be able to fathom, being told about something like the Internet, that courts still have to use court reporters, and the majority of the magical systems of the future use substantially similar keyboards to what they were using then?

Or take robotics and automation: again, look at the predictions from these postcards, or from anything between 1880 and 1970 or so. How would your time traveller comprehend that we can engineer viruses and nanometer-scale computing devices, but can't build a reasonable device to cut someone's hair or do someone's makeup? In fact, we tend to be impressed by things like robot arms barely managing to flip a pancake, or humanoid robots slowly climbing stairs. For that matter, we're just now starting to manage automated cars, something that is everywhere in science fiction over the last century.

What tends to be impressive about these sorts of predictions is that there are so many things we take for granted that people from past eras couldn't begin to imagine, and so many things they could easily imagine that are nowhere near being possible.

Re:explaining our world to a 19th century person.. (4, Insightful)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 2 years ago | (#41665387)

I agree. Explaining the extreme difficulty involved with machines even approaching that level of autonomous function would be hard to do indeed.

Even today, few people realize how excrutiatingly difficult AI really is. Something as intelligent as a mouse would be a radical accomplishment. (And we routinely make science fiction where AIs with superhuman intellect are commonplace...)

Like everything, the devil's in the details. Sadly, this is something that routinely goes unnoticed or unappreciated, even today, where the reality stares us brazenly in the face and mocks us openly. (How many times have you had to deal with the starry-eyed executive, who has "a great idea"?)

Many of the things we have today came from trying to solve the frustratingly difficult, but seemingly simple things people have imagined for ages. Like going to the moon. I would be hard pressed to make an all-inclusive list of things around me at this very moment that exist exclusively because we dared to tackle that seemingly simple problem, [which it turns out wasn't so simple.]

I just think it prudent for people daydreaming about the future to rationalize that the future world where your romantic idea becomes real, is one that you simply cannot understand, because of all the knowledge and social changes it brought in the intervening time.

When I think about a future with strong ai in it, I imagine a future where goatse-esque things are commonplace, and even appearing on things like gameshows. Essentially phillip k dick on an ecstacy and crack smoothie. (With barbituates and chocolate chips blended in.)

Re:explaining our world to a 19th century person.. (2)

ljw1004 (764174) | about 2 years ago | (#41665445)

I think you're way off the mark! I remember reading St Augustine's "City of God Against The Pagans" written in the early 400s. I was struck that my thought processes as a computer scientist were much closer to him than to my peers. He had the pedantic logical mind of a computer scientist. My favorite example is his version of the Cogito - "I know I exist. The skeptics say I am mistaken in this, but by the same token they say I am".

I think people from older eras were every bit as mentally adept and flexible as we are now, and more than we generally credit.

Let's look through your list...

The finer points of how an IC work (such as the quantum nature of the bandgap, especially at nanoscopic scales) would be nearly incomprehensible to such a person.

Incomprehensible to someone today also. I tried explaining N and P gaps to my wife without any success.

"Fiberoptic communication, with such strange things as helical polarization would bake their noodles, not to mention such curious things as the GPS network. (Einstein didn't come along until much later. GPS wouldn't work without SR, due to earth's frame dragging.)"

It wouldn't work without SR, true, but sextants and celestial navigation have been around for thousands of years, and by the 19th century they had damned fine instruments to measure celestial bodies including the moon. The idea of basing it off other more nearby celestial bodies would be easily understood. As for calculating exact position due to the differences in signals -- well, not much different from interferometry and "Newton's Fringes" (named after Newton of course).

"In an age without computers, the math involved would be frightening! Something like 4096bit RSA ecryption would induce nightmares."

They had many computers for celestial-navigation tables in the 18th century. Computer at this stage meant "person who performs computation", and they'd have entire halls full of them. And they had computers for artillery tables going back to the middle ages, where it was the bright mathematician hired by the local nobleman. The idea of upping the scale was already widespread. Charles Babbage (died 1871) was far more ambitious about what could be computed. He wouldn't have been frightened, not one bit. Say what you will about the 18th century, but they weren't unambitious about what they could achieve (at least not in the British Empire).

imagine H.G. Wells dropping in for a sunset view from his time machine at a nude beach, asking politely for a newspaper and being laughed at, going to a delapidated paper book library, and told by a 10 year old that he could have all the books in the entire world litterally in the palm of his hand. Expose him to the radical idea of the internet, then expose him to 4chan (or worse, a site dedicated to 'rule 34'), and reveal the shocking truth that most people use the internet for pornographic entertainment instead of personal improvement. (Remember, 19th century sexual repressedness)"

Whatever reason do you have to think that? Nothing of H.G.Well's writing suggests he'd be shocked. I reckon from his book "A Modern Utopia" that he's far more progressive than our own society today.

Re:explaining our world to a 19th century person.. (4, Insightful)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 2 years ago | (#41665653)

The issue is not the lack of logic, or having weaker minds. (The exact counter argument could be made, in fact. The greeks had an entire profession built around training people to remember huge volumes of information, for instance.)

The issue is the distance on cultural norms, and radical changes that disruptive technologies produce. (Compare the culture of the 80s, with that of 2012. What changed? What stayed the same? Why?)

As for the 1880s mathematitian being daunted by factoring a 4096 bit integer, on paper... approach this rationally.

A 4096 bit integer has more possible factors in an exhaustive search than there were human beings on the planet at the time. Assuming 100% utilization of 100% of the world population, factoring a single crypto block would take more time than the human race had previously existed up until that point. Even with technological devices of the time, running at a few hundred operations per second (per babbage), the absurdity of doing this so uncle sam wouldn't spy on your private correspondence would be dumbfounding.

(People used cryptograms back then, sure. But nothing approaching the "overkill" of modern cryptography. When we measure "time to factor complete space" in terms of "time before universe dies of heat death", using modern, multi-gigahertz machines with billions of FLOPS each, *and* ubiquity of such horsepower, doing it on PAPER would be laughable, and a good mathematician would point out how impractical that is. Its like inventing superliminal processing, only to get porno from the future.)

As for victorian era porno.. with exception to houses of ill repute, and dog and pony shows, the "pornography" of the era is easily trumped with a victoria's secret catalog. Goatse, tubgirl, and "2 girls, one cup" and their ilk would send victorians rushing for the door. Remember, "dog and pony" were the "extreme" of that era. The shit on the internet, both real and fake alike-- puts even the raciest stuff from that era to shame in terms of being scandalous.

While wells might be willing to have an open mind about the future, I think he would draw the line at child porn snuff films, and people using the greatest accomplishment since the library of alexandria to wipe their asses with. (Intellectually speaking.)

Re:explaining our world to a 19th century person.. (2)

azalin (67640) | about 2 years ago | (#41666799)

While wells might be willing to have an open mind about the future, I think he would draw the line at child porn snuff films, and people using the greatest accomplishment since the library of alexandria to wipe their asses with. (Intellectually speaking.)

Maybe you should read de Sade sometime. The days of Sodom contain stuff that would make even internet hardened people sick. We aren't talking about Goatse or 1cup anymore with this fellow, we are talking about stuff even hardcore bondage and fetish sites would not dare to show for real.

Re:explaining our world to a 19th century person.. (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41666043)

I wonder what that same HG Wells would have thought of looking at a farmer driving his air conditioned enclosed cab tractor plowing his field while talking on a cell phone negotiating a future contract with a trader in Chicago for the crop he is harvesting at the moment. Or for that matter looking at a bunch of airmen conducting sorties over Afghanistan while relaxing in a Las Vegas suburb.

Perhaps more astounding would be to tell this time traveler that people went to the Moon, sampled a bunch of rocks, and then never bothered going back for another 50 years while letting the spaceships that could have (or even should have) been used rot away from rust and are eaten out by mice.

Yeah, it is a weird world we live in, which would certainly would confound and even confuse somebody from even the 19th Century. What was interesting though is that people at the end of the 19th Century knew that the world was going to change in some profound ways, and that the old ways of doing things was on its way out. The fruits of the industrial revolution were finally being noticed and it was transforming the lives of very ordinary people in profound ways.

Re:explaining our world to a 19th century person.. (1)

Sique (173459) | about 2 years ago | (#41666351)

Fiberoptic communication, with such strange things as helical polarization would bake their noodles, not to mention such curious things as the GPS network. (Einstein didn't come along until much later. GPS wouldn't work without SR, due to earth's frame dragging.)

I wouldn't count on that. SR was pretty much in place from a mathematical point of view with Hendrik Antoon Lorentz' Ether Theory of 1892, building on a framework by Hermann Minkowski and finetuned by Henri Poincaré. Until today we learn the Lorentz transformations in SR - and they predate the SR by 13 years. The only thing H.A.Lorentz didn't get right was the Ether. He still believed he needed a medium for lightwaves to propagate. But for calculations, Ether Theory and SR are equivalent, Albert Einstein's theory is just much more elegant.

Re:explaining our world to a 19th century person.. (1)

Burb (620144) | about 2 years ago | (#41666851)

"Our world would traumatize people from the 19th century." Victorians were not as universally repressed as popular belief would suggest. In public, there was higher standard of "official" morality, perhaps. But HG Wells had a quite colourful love life.

hmm? (2)

tibman (623933) | about 2 years ago | (#41664683)

What's wrong with a Radium Fireplace? Keeps the place nice and warm.

Re:hmm? (1)

azalin (67640) | about 2 years ago | (#41666813)

The mice might grow horns and large fangs though. Or die. Maybe both.

WOW! NEAT! (1)

johnwerneken (74428) | about 2 years ago | (#41664689)

Interesting and informative. Science Fiction at it's best, combines what can be known about what people want to do or to have done, with current knowledge of fields where boundaries are exploding, to guess ways of using advances in such fields to achieve such goals. The result illuminates how it might feel to do all that, and sometimes the guess on HOW isn't that far off at all...

Quick thought for quick thinkers (1)

Peter (Professor) Fo (956906) | about 2 years ago | (#41664765)

The WHOLE POINT of science fiction is to get us to think about how decisions in the past and we make TODAY affect the future.

How about for an example? A TV-top camera watching for who watches what adverts being used to detect atheists who 'ignore' religious blatterings? (I hope) this is SF but either it is bound to be abused occasionally or massively. "The next educational program on Afgan [UAE, Dubai,...] TV is not for women."

similar for our predictions (2)

deodiaus2 (980169) | about 2 years ago | (#41664799)

I think our predictions of the future (regarding the singularity, robots, biogenetics, wealth, energy, and space exploration) will be as off based as these were.
This is interesting in its own right as it shows just how myopic these visions were.
I always laugh when I see our future depicted in movies and TV shows. Looking at Star Trek, we see how much the architecture is so 1960's. The knobs and lights look right out of 1967. Even something like the CRT-TVs in UFO and Space 1999 are dated.

Re:similar for our predictions (2)

ShoulderOfOrion (646118) | about 2 years ago | (#41666277)

So true. It's amazing how constrained we are by our own experiences. I've been watching old Outer Limit shows recently, produced in the 1960's. Wonderful examples abound there, such as a future videophone that still uses a rotary dial. Of course, with AT&T being a monopoly again...

Steampunk (3, Insightful)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about 2 years ago | (#41664875)

They're far too whimsical to be predictions of OUR present. They're best suited as material for a steampunk movie or anime, what people thought was possible using souped-up versions of the technology of the day. I doubt whether it's possible to predict what the future will look, although it should be possible to describe vaguely what type of technologies people will use. For example, it should be possible to describe a tablet computer in terms that a 19th century geek would understand, a portable magic lantern that can also serve as a camera, telephone, phonograph, etc. In a non-dystopian future, we're sure to have micro-versions of today's supercomputers, but whether it'll look like a smart phone, AR glasses, or something implanted inside our skulls is something for the next Steve Jobs to market to the gadget sheep of the future.

The future through the eyes of the present (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41664877)

What I always find interesting about visions of the future is the way in which people's present day taints the image. For example, I think there are some old science fiction stories about space travel where the people on the voyage use wood or oil for heat. Or, as with these postcard pictures, the idea of blimps carrying boatloads of people instead of jet liners. Looking at the original Star Trek series I find it interesting that they've got faster than light travel and transporters, but most of their computers don't have screens and they still use physical toggle switches for controls and some episodes show them printing off results on paper.

It's very hard to accurately predict the future because our visions are constantly tainted by what we already have. I think a lot of these postcards did a pretty good job, considering what the artists would have known at the time. The farming equipment and two-way visual phone calls are especially impressive. Sure, some didn't turn out, but I don't think that reduces the impressive show of imagination on display.

Re:The future through the eyes of the present (1)

Harvey Manfrenjenson (1610637) | about 2 years ago | (#41665503)

Looking at the original Star Trek series I find it interesting that they've got faster than light travel and transporters, but most of their computers don't have screens and they still use physical toggle switches for controls and some episodes show them printing off results on paper.

Perhaps there are situations where you *want* a physical toggle switch for ergonomic reasons? The best example I can think of is musical gear (say, a high-end synthesizer). I'd be willing to bet there are still toggle switches on a nuclear submarine.

And yeah, I'm rationalizing.

Re:The future through the eyes of the present (1)

drkim (1559875) | about 2 years ago | (#41666219)

Looking at the original Star Trek series I find it interesting that they've got faster than light travel and transporters, but most of their computers don't have screens...

It depends on the imagination of the predictor.

If you look at Stanley Kubrick's 1968 "2001" you'll see them reading/watching news off what could easily be an iPad. And the ship is controlled by voice recognition.

If you really want your mind blown, read Sir Francis Bacon’s "The New Atlantis"

“Carriages without horses.”
“Ships without sails.”
“Boats for going under water and brooking seas.”
“Mechanically made silks, linens and tissues.”
recording studios
“Glass of divers kinds, among them some metals vitrificated.”
"great and spacious houses where we imitate and demonstrate the meteors." (planetarium)
grafting and inoculating of trees, fruits and flowers
“prolonging of life and the curing of some diseases by refrigeration.” (cryogenics)
"we make observations otherwise unseen in the blood and urine." (microscopes)

...all back in 1626!

Good and bad predictions (4, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 2 years ago | (#41665523)

Looking at a lot of predictions of 'the future', a lot of them were right on, and a lot of them were "WTF".

I wonder what a prediction today, of 200 years in the future, would be. Life in 2212. We've been tainted by Star Trek, etc All that stuff should be possible, NOW! But what will it really be like?

My predictions:
1. We will have landed men on the Moon again.
2. We will have landed men on Mars (why? I don't know...)
3. There will have been another nuclear weapon used in anger (this leads to a major restructuring of global politics)
4. We still won't have anything like a warp drive
5. We will have actually come up with a better power source. Cold fusion or similar.
6. There will still be religious nutcases (See #3)

Re:Good and bad predictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41666483)

Will there still be bitter cowards posting their vitriol with impunity?

I'm amazed that we don't have flying cars (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#41665933)

We still don't have flying cars. It's clear that massive numbers of flying cars wouldn't work out well. But nobody has produced even a prototype of a useful thrust-type VTOL big enough to carry humans. One would have expected a military version by now. The stability and control problem is solved; little quadrotors under computer control are now incredibly maneuverable in tight spaces. Jet engines have enough power. The F-35 VTOL variant, like the Harrier, works, but the price tag is insane.

The problem is probably related to jet engine cost. Jet engines good enough for manned aircraft don't get significantly cheaper below 6-passenger bizjet size. That's why general aviation is still using pistons.

(Moller is part of the problem, not part of the solution.)

Amazing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41665935)

It's really amazing, that postcards from 1899, already described in details in a book from the last millennium, that I read as a kid, is presented as news for nerds.

They really didn't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41666239)

Most of these are nonsensical and none really show what people keep saying they do.

not that exciting (1)

pbjones (315127) | about 2 years ago | (#41666281)

flying machines were already being developed (just needed fine tuning), gliders were woking, balloons were flying, the telephone was in use, electricity was lighting and heating homes, and the 'robots' were talked about as part of industrial fantasy. As nice as these are, and I'd like a set too, they represent many of the common thoughts of the future.

Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41666317)

We've seen these quaint 'predictions of the future' pictures for quite some time.

Lack of imagination (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41666605)

All the characters wear typical clothes of the era and the gizmos are wired up like an early Marconi wireless transmitter, not an amazing leap into the future at all. They were probablu unpublished because even the cheap postcard publishers could see that they were crap.

And the killer is that Microsoft used the "future schoolroom" illustration to plug their "Microsoft University" initiative some time in the mid-80s. I remember the advert in Byte from back then....

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