Technology moves very, very fast and often takes unexpected routes. So, making predictions about the future of tech is quite tricky. The risk of ending with an egg on your face is quite big. Even so, many people love to predict what will happen in the future of technology.
So, here are some old tech predictions from the past century which actually came true. Or came impressively close to the end result. Sadly, no flying cars just yet, but there are some pretty remarkable ideas.
Meet J. Elfreth Watkins. He was a civil engineer with a passion for the future. So, in 1900 he published his predictions about “What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years”. Most of the predictions are about the overall life, but there are some tech-related ones, too.
One of those predictions is as follows: “Man will see around the world. Persons and things of all kinds will be brought within focus of cameras connected electrically with screens at opposite ends of circuits, thousands of miles at a span.” Sounds like video chats and the Internet in general, doesn’t it?
Another one of his predictions states: “Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance.” Hello, Instagram and social media.
Now we jump a few years later to 1909. That’s when Nikola Tesla gave an interview for The New York Times. There he said the following: “It will soon be possible to transmit wireless messages all over the world so simply that any individual can own and operate his own apparatus.” Mobile phones, anyone?
Even more precise
Now, we go a few decades later. We’re in 1987. “We will have high-definition, wide-screen television sets and a push-button dialing system to order the movie you want at the time you want it,” Roger Ebert said in 1987 during an interview with Omni Magazine.
And a final jump to 1999. Bill Gates published a book called “Business @ the Speed of Thought”. In it he made 15 predictions about the future of technology. Pretty much all of them are either already true or on the way to be. Here are just a few that already have happened:
- “Automated price comparison services will be developed, allowing people to see prices across multiple websites, making it effortless to find the cheapest product for all industries.”
- “People will carry around small devices that allow them to constantly stay in touch and do electronic business from wherever they are. They will be able to check the news, see flights they have booked, get information from financial markets, and do just about anything else on these devices.”
- “People will pay their bills, take care of their finances, and communicate with their doctors over the internet.”
- “‘Personal companions will be developed. They will connect and sync all your devices in a smart way, whether they are at home or in the office, and allow them to exchange data. The device will check your email or notifications, and present the information that you need. When you go to the store, you can tell it what recipes you want to prepare, and it will generate a list of ingredients that you need to pick up. It will inform all the devices that you use of your purchases and schedule, allowing them to automatically adjust to what you’re doing.”
- “Devices will have smart advertising. They will know your purchasing trends, and will display advertisements that are tailored toward your preferences.”
- “Project managers looking to put a team together will be able to go online, describe the project, and receive recommendations for available people who would fit their requirements.”
- “Similarly, people looking for work will be able to find employment opportunities online by declaring their interest, needs, and specialized skills.”