Wander Lord

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How people saw the future in the past

How people saw the future in the past

How people saw the future in the past

In 1900, American engineer John Elfreth Watkins wrote an article in Ladies’ Home Journal on what would happen in 100 years. Now it turned out that the author had made some interesting predictions. In particular, he was able to describe mobile phones, TV, digital photo, aircraft, tanks and even more. Nevertheless, in his article, which was entitled “What can happen in the next century,” Watkins made several predictions that had not come true.
John Watkins worked for the magazine Saturday Evening Post, which was published by the same publisher as the Ladies’ Home Journal. The editor of the historical department of Saturday Evening Post Jeff Nilsson saw an old article and decided to publish it after 112 years.

Digital photo
Watkins did not use the term “digital”, but he wrote: “The photographs will be sent by telegraph to any distance. And photos will show true colors.” At that time color photo was still at the stage of scientific experiments.

Mobile communication
“Wireless telephone and telegraph networks will be throughout the world. Any husband will be able to phone his wife across the oceans. It will be just as easy to call to China, as we now can call from New York to Brooklyn”, the author wrote in 1900. The international telephone lines did not exist and people didn’t even hear about the wireless communication.

Tanks and planes
Although the first descriptions and even drawings of tanks were made by Leonardo da Vinci, John Watkins quite accurately described the use of “forts on wheels” in wars. “These forts – he wrote – will break through the open space with the speed of modern Express”. In addition, he described the “flying machines, which will be equipped with telescopes with a range of a hundred miles.” It turned out the first controlled flight was made by Wright Brothers in 1903. And the first fight with tanks was in 1916.

“Ready-to-eat meal will be delivered from institutions like the modern grocery”, wrote Watkins in his article. However, he believed that people would have to return the dishes. But he also predicted that the products would be stored in the refrigerator for a long time.

“Vegetables will grow much faster with the help of a strong electric light, which will replace the Sun, into large glazed plantations.”

Television and web-camera
“Man will be able to observe the whole world. Images of people and all sorts of things will be transmitted through the electric wires on the screens.”

“Cold air will go from special taps, and thus it will be possible to regulate the temperature in the house in the same way we use cold or hot water taps.”

Bullet train
“Trains will run at a speed of 2 miles per minute. And express – 150 miles per hour.” 100 years after the publication of the article there were trains that reached speed up to 240 km per hour.

How people saw the future in the past

In the 1930s argentine painter and sculptor Benjamin Solari Parravicini predicted the catastrophe in Japan, the atomic bomb, terrorist attack on September 11 in New York and a trip into space.
One day he drew weeping angels over a huge swirl and signed – Japan. He also wrote that large “F” would explode and produce a lot of noise throughout the earth. It is possible that “F” was referred to the Japanese nuclear power plant “Fukushima-1”. After the devastating tsunami strike there were four explosions in units.
In 1936, sketches of the master seemed strange and unusual. Only many years later, when the mysterious stories depicted in the pictures began to come true, Parravicini was called an Argentine prophet.
1937 – Man will fly to the stars. Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin made the first space flight in the history in 1961.
1937 – A man with a beard will ignite the Antilles. The revolution in Cuba took place 22 years after the prophecy. When Benjamin had predicted the event, the future revolutionary Fidel Castro was just 11 years old.
1938 – A dictator, who will destroy the country, comes to power in Spain. Bourbon will come to the throne, and then weakened tyrant will escape to Argentina, if only health will allow.
1938 – The dog will be the first to fly into space. Sensational flight of the first animal was in 1957.
In 1938 the artist made a sketch of the future TV set. The first black-and-white television sets came into use only in the 50s.
1938 – The heart of the world will fall in 1940. Fall and will belong to the Germans until 1944.
1939 – Atom will come and will rule the world. The first nuclear reactor was started only in 1951.
1939 – Russia will subdue China and distribute the dogma there. 10 years later Mao Zedong proclaimed communism as the national ideology of the state.
1939 – Hitler – Mussolini. They will face one end; one end.
1940 – People will get to the moon. They will be able to reach it, however, they won’t be able to inhabit it (29 years before the first human landing on the moon).
1941 – Struggle between the Yankees and Russian. Fight for territory and conquest of outer space.

More interesting predictions
– Apple’s iPad was “predicted” in the Space Odyssey 2001 by Arthur C. Clarke, written in 1968
– The first videophone was demonstrated by AT&T at the New York World’s Fair in 1964. A half a century before, in 1911, video chat was described by Hugo Gernsback in the story Ralph 124C 41+. The same story the prototype of the radar, which was invented only in 1933, was mentioned.
– Automatic doors, invented in 1960, H.G. Wells predicted in 1899, in the story The Sleeper Awakes.

Here are futuristic illustrations called En L’An 2000 that were made for 1900 Paris International Exhibition. In 1986 Isaac Asimov wrote the book Futuredays: A Nineteenth Century Vision of the Year 2000 using the pictures.