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Vintage illustrations of the future that are pretty close to reality

Imagining or predicting the future has always been a part of the human spirit. We are beings that are intrigued by the things that would or could happen to us in the years to come. The appearance of science fiction literature raised this desire to another level, and in many cases, inspired technology that we use today. The job of the futurists is to attempt to systematically explore predictions and possibilities about the future and how they can emerge from the present, whether that of human society in particular or life on Earth in general.

When you look at some of the old predictions about the future (from the 1800s or the early 1900s), you notice that they are silly and far from reality, yet amusing and creative, and full of ideas. But some illustrators and futurists, by chance, or by some miraculous foresight, came very close to what is happening in the 2000s. Below are some of the illustrations that we think are interesting.

1. TV Glasses

Here is one that looks really familiar today, with the appearance of virtual reality gadgets such as oculus rift, or 3D technology. This picture was made in 1963 for Life Magazine. In it, famous science fiction author Hugo Gernsback (considered as the father of science fiction by some), wears a model of an apparatus that was mentioned in one of his stories. Hugo named this gadget “TV glasses.” His idea was that people one day would be able to watch TV so close, at the point at which they will be able to interact with the screen. A pretty accurate prediction.

2. “Robotic vacuum cleaners.”

In 1910 Jean-Marc Côté, and his team of illustrators decided to create a set of illustrations which they named “En L’An 2000”  (in the year 2000). All of the illustrations in this collection are amusing, and some are more accurate than the other. This one called “electric scrubbing” is something that came out accurate and righto on time. At the beginning of the century, with the development of robotics technology, companies started producing robots that clean your house without your help. These robotic vacuum cleaners are not yet a common machine in every house, but they are surely getting there.

3. Digital classroom

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This illustration was made in 1969 by Shigeru Komatsuzaki, for a Japanese magazine called Computopia. It is called “The Rise of the Computerized School,” and it depicts the author’s idea of how a classroom will look in the future. You can notice that the teacher is an image on the screen and every student has a computer at his disposal. Every school task is done trough the input on the screen. The “digital teacher” checks the progress of the students automatically. Besides that, notice how the robots punish disobedient students. Besides the evil robots, things look very accurate here. Many countries today are implementing the use of computers in the classroom today some countries even provide a PC for every student, as pictured above. Besides this, remote education and e-learning are also becoming a thing.

4. Video calls

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This technology was predicted by many authors, futurists, and illustrators in the past. This one is one of the earliest illustrations on this subject; it was made in 1930. Again, the resemblance with a modern gadget that we all know as “smartphone” is uncanny. Two ladies are sitting at a cafe, enjoying, and chatting with their friends on Skype. A ubiquitous sight today indeed.

5.  Self-driving cars technology

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An illustration that appeared on the cover of Popular Science magazine in June 1940 predicted that cars in the future would be able to function autonomously and transport people without the need of a driver. An amazing prediction, especially if you consider that back, then they were expecting that the technology would appear in 2 years. Today, this is slowly becoming a reality. Companies like Mercedes and many other huge car manufacturers are working hard to make autonomous vehicles safe and reliable. Cars (even the self-driving prototypes) still need a driver, but the future is coming!

Boban Docevski

Boban Docevski is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News