I’d forgotten about these. Some one posted them on Facebook, and it was a great trip down memory lane.
Ah, the future of the past.
Forget jetpacks and flying cars, here’s a glimpse, from 17 years ago, of a future that actually worked out.
To be fair, that’s largely because futures don’t come out of nowhere. I doubt any of those were pie-in-the-sky then, they were all long-lead-time things that AT&T was working with partners on at the time. But, even so, it’s impressive in retrospect how accurately the predictions are. Just because something looks good on the drawing board, it doesn’t always turn out that way in real life.
It’s interesting how the reality differs from the vision, though; sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.
“Have you ever borrowed a book, from thousands of miles away?” Can you imagine only being able to read a book electronically on your computer if you had a connection to a physical copy somewhere? Or, for that matter, only being able to read a book electronically on your computer? I can read a book on my telephone, even if it doesn’t exist anywhere in physical form.
“Or sent someone a fax from the beach?” Um, I could. But why? Should I also sent a telegraph from the mall? Or semaphores from the bathroom?
“Bought concert tickets from a cash machine?” OK, I shouldn’t complain, because I CAN buy concert tickets from my computer. Or my telephone. But a cash machine? No. And it’s not that I really want to, but it’s a reminder how of AT&T missed this one probably because they underestimated what a closed system buying concert tickets was. The limitations here aren’t technology, but Ticketmaster. Moore’s Law doesn’t factor in greed.
Likewise carrying “your medical history in your wallet.” The technology’s there, but the bureaucracy isn’t. To be honest, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I like the idea of convenience, but I’m not really sure who I want owning that repository of information.
I’ve never “opened doors with the sound of your voice,” but every time I lock my car from several feet away using a button on a remote, it bugs me that I still have to put a key in a keyhole and turn to open my house. I want the convenience of confirming that I locked my house with a quick double-click of a button that I have with my car. Someone make that happen for me, please.
The one that’s most intriguing, though, is this idea of “tucking your baby in from a phone booth.” Now, right now I have video calling on my iPhone, but it’s a small screen. I can do a video chat on a larger screen with my laptop, but that involves lugging it around and setting it up. I’m intrigued by the notion of having a kiosk that would allow you to do this somewhere. Again, it seems like the technology’s there, so whatever prevented this so-called “phone booth” from becoming a reality?