Predicting the year 2000 back in 1979: The Book of the Future
In 1979, the children’s book publisher Usborne came out with a book envisioning how life might be in the year 2000: The Usborne Book of the Future: A Trip in Time to The Year 2000 and Beyond.
The book is full of predictions of what life might be like in the 21st century.
This picture ‘takes you into the living room of a house of the future. The basics will probably be similar – windows, furniture, carpet and TV. There will be one big change though – the number of electronic gadgets in use.’ Let’s see how many of these predictions came true (image below):
A giant-size TV with stereo sound system
Electronic video movie camera (requires no film, just a spool of tape)
Flat screen TV – a thickness of less than five centimeters
Video disc player used for recording off the TV and for replaying favorite films
Domestic robot rolling in with drinks
Mail slot for sending electronic mail
So the robot butler didn’t happen but the rest is pretty spot-on! Although the description of how email would work is quite funny, with hindsight:
“By 1990, most mail will be sent in electronic form. Posting a letter will consist of placing it in front of a copier in your home or at the post office. The electronic read-out will be flashed up to a satellite, to be beamed to its destination.”
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I had something similar as a kid: The Kids’ Whole Future Catalog
It included depictions of space stations, universal translators, urban green spaces, genetic engineering, and lots more. The “catalog” part was at the end of each chapter, there were things related to the technology (some free, some not) that you could send away for.
That hit me at just the right time, in just the right way, it really shaped how I thought about the future, and what was possible.