How did people imagine that life would be in 2018, 100 years ago? Some predictions are staggeringly accurate
The end of the 19th century and the beginning of the twentieth century represented an interesting period where innovation was central to advanced countries at that time. Thus, it is easy to understand that people were trying to imagine where the innovations will take place and how the world will look in the future.
Essentially, it looks the same, in the sense that the paradigm has not changed, innovation is still central, and transport, energy, automation and communication are, as 100 years ago, essential to the modern world.
Many predictions made at the beginning of the twentieth century are not far from true, such as the proliferation of cars and planes and the transmission of information. Of course, that are things that differ significantly, but this shows how much technology has evolved over the last century.
Such a prediction comes from Graham Bell, the inventor of the phone, who said that “we will probably be able to remotely realize without need of the wires almost any mechanical action that can be done manually”, which is true today, from the remote control that opens the garage door to guiding spaceships in outer space.
A century ago, people were obsessed with the transport of the future. In 1914, Ford created the first factory with an autonomous assembly line, which allowed the company to build 300,000 cars in one year. Futurists could imagine a world where every person has their own car, which is not far from the truth; given that 95% of the families in the United States have a car.
On January 6, 1918, an article in The Washington Times announced that “tomorrow’s cars will be built as a moving room”. The seats could be placed anywhere and the steering wheel will be replaced by a handle. To eliminate shocks, the vehicle had air spheres instead of wheels.
A series of stamps carried out between 1899 and 1910 by French artist Jean-Marc Côté illustrated the idea that mankind had already colonized the sea and the air. Basically, according to the artist, until the 2000s, humans would “domesticate” marine mammals. Fortunately (for them), this has not happened.
But the main point was air travel. The Wright Brothers performed the first flight successfully in 1913, and for some more than 10 years later the planes were already used in World War I. In view of the rapid development and interest of aircraft industry and inventors, it is easy to understand that air transport was an important source of imagination for futurists.
Air travel also came as a solution to the impediments at the time, such as urban traffic, which had problems even at the beginning of the 20th century in some cities and rail traffic, which was too expensive.
Technology will become personal
In 1900, writer John Elfrith Watkins Jr. wrote an article titled “What’s Happening in the Next 100 Years” for The Ladies’ Home Journal. Watkins imagined a world where technology is not just in the hands of industry and the army, but will also be used for civil purposes, such as fun.
Although he has not imagined the appearance of the TV as we know him today, Watkins predicted that technology will once again bring concerts in showrooms to everyone’s home. He also imagined that the photos would be colorful and could be transmitted at great distances in a short period of time, and here it is known that he was perfectly right. Of course, he could not know exactly how they would be transmitted.
The writer has imagined that technology will transform our homes and diets, preserving the appearance of refrigerators, a very simple way to keep fresh food for a longer time. These, together with more efficient transport, will make fruit and vegetables available to everyone.
A very interesting aspect taken into account by those who imagine their future is the environment and the use of fossil fuels.
Even in 1896, a scientist calculated that doubling the concentration of carbon dioxide would raise the global temperatures of the Earth by a few degrees Celsius. The scientist was inspired by a discovery made by his friend, who noted that human activities release the same CO2 concentration as natural processes.