What experts 100 years ago thought the future would be like

Over a hundred years ago, The Ladies’ Home Journal published what then-futurists thought would happen within the next century. Some of them are spot on, some have not happened yet, and some are outright opposite our current situation.


What they got right

1. Population of the USA: “There will probably be 350M-500M people in America and its possessions.”

2. Heaters and air conditioners: “Hot or cold air will be turned on from spigots to regulate the temperature of a house.”

3. Fast food and food delivery: “Ready cooked meals will be bought from establishments similar to our bakeries…Food will be served hot or cold to private homes in pneumatic tubes or automotive wagons.”

4. Digital cameras, TV, and the Internet: “Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance.” “Man will see around the world.” “Telephones will span the world.”

5. Fast trains

6. Automobiles replacing horse vehicles.

7. Aerial warships and forts on wheels

8. Medical photography: A physician can see a living heart inside the chest and magnify and photograph any part of it using invisible light.


What they got wrong

1. Wild animals and pests: “There will be no wild animals except in menageries. Rats and mice will have been exterminated.” “No mosquitoes or flies.”

2. The alphabet: “There will be no C, X or Q in our everyday alphabet.”

3. Coal: “Coal will not be used for heating or cooking.”

4. City house: “The city house will probably be no more. Building in blocks will be illegal. The trip from suburban home to office will require a few minutes only. A penny will pay the fare.”

5. People’s walking: “A man or woman unable to walk 10 miles at a stretch will be regarded as a weakling.”

6. Air transportation: “There will be airships but they will not successfully compete with surface cars and water vessels for passenger or freight traffic.”

7. Cars in cities: “There will be no street cars in our large cities.”

8. Some plants: They expected strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries would be as large as apples, peas as large as beets, and roses as large as cabbage heads.

9. Drug delivery: They predicted that most drugs would be applied through the skin and flesh, with only a few needed to be swallowed.

Image credit: psd | CC-BY-2.0, via Flickr

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