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  • The Past of the Future

    Posted by David Foster on December 20th, 2010 (All posts by )

    Commenter Erin, at the Assistant Village Idiot, links a series of predictions about the year 2000 which were made in a Ladies Home Journal article dated December, 1900.


    These are actually pretty good…considerably better than the typical what-the-future-will-be-like article attempting to make predictions over such a wide span of time. Bear in mind that the year 1900 was:

    –3 years before the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight
    –8 years before the introduction of the Ford Model “T”
    –28 years before penicillin
    –6 years before the vacuum tube (which enabled true long-distance telephony)
    –4 years after the public announcement of Marconi’s early work on wireless communications, but 19 years prior to the introduction of commercial radio broadcasting

    Quite a few misses in the article, obviously, but overall a pretty good piece of work by the author, John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. I couldn’t find anything about him on the web, but his father was apparently a civil engineer focused on railroads.

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    One Response to “The Past of the Future”

    1. Michael Kennedy Says:

      It’s interesting to see what did not occur to him as most of the predictions are very good. The airplane was one. We can’t very well blame him for not thinking of power plants as electric power was still new. He came very close to television. He did not anticipate the hostility of South America to the US but that was the era of great empires and the jealousy of nations that was to destroy Europe in 1914 was still unimaginable.