In the Year 2000

The new In the Year 2000 Flickr group is a place for "images depicting futuristic speculation from magazines and books from the past".

Link [Flickr] - via Boing Boing Gadgets

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Yes, the last picture, with the "21st Century Home" seems to be generating a lot of comments, with some people suggesting it might be a spoof rather than an actual "vision of future past" from 1979. Although I can't prove its authenticity, it's really not as implausible as it might seem in its remarkable prescience regarding e-mail. The Internet existed in the late 1960s, allowing computer technicians to, well, e-mail each other and thus save on postage & phone bills. Mostly they used it to transfer streams of data from one terminal to another (slo-o-owly, of course). Oddly enough, I read that an early sci-fi story from the 1920s speculated on a network of lines used by computers (and users) to communicate to each other. (This was when mechanical, let alone electronic, computers themselves were still theoretical!) So although most people didn't expect much from the Inernet or even know about it when it came into existence, a few people did have some idea that such a thing might be built and prove useful. (No mention of cyber-porn, though...)

And regarding the mention of an old book about a future in which one could record one TV show while watching another: Videotape was developed in the 1950s, when few people even had TV sets. It was used as a relatively inexpensive film substitute for TV stations. Reel-to-reel video recorders became available in the late 1960s, but I don't know if they could be connected directly to TV sets and record off of them. The first videocassettes appeared in the 1970s, but few people had them. (The cassettes were huge, too!) VCRs for the common folk didn't show up until the 1980s. But some of that technology was in existence for a long time, fueling the imagination of those who were familiar with it.

For an example of some more prescient technology that only recently became available (and still needs work before it becomes commonly accepted), check out Fritz Lang's 1927 film "Metropolis." We see a videophone that allows the autocrat Fredersen to communicate with the workers' foreman and see him at the same time. (The foreman, being of a lower class, does not have a similar screen at his end of the line allowing him to see Fredersen, however.) In 1927, television was still largely theoretical (although some closed-circuit TV experiments may have been done), so this was an astoundingly high-tech gadget at the time.
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