The Ghosts of Futures Past
By James Grahame
I thought you might enjoy this amusing collection of postcards printed around 1900 by German chocolate and cocoa manufacturer Hildebrand. They depict a fanciful vision of the world in the year 2000.
People are awful at predicting the future. This is especially true when imagining future technologies. The problem is that we are blissfully unaware of future paradigm shifts and radical innovations (not to mention cultural changes). Oddly enough, these shifts aren't as frequent as you might suspect.
Looking back to the year 1900, the world was entering an age of incandescent light bulbs and considering the possibilities of the internal combustion engine. The benefits of X-Rays had been discovered, and motion pictures were an amusing curiosity. However, modern assembly line manufacturing was unheard of, airplanes were still a few years off, and electronic miniaturization and most of today's clever gadgetry made possible by the transistor was still a half century away.
Fast forward just over a century, and the incandescent light bulb still dominates most of the world, along with its old friend the internal combustion engine (cough, cough). Motion picture film still captures arguably the best moving images and chances are you'll receive an x-ray when you break a bone or visit the dentist. It makes you wonder which vintage technologies will be lingering a century from now. I just hope someone figures out teleportation before my next holiday.