22 Jul TV in the Year 2000 (published in 1899)
Thanks to the invention and development of sci-fi, the future has been a kind of shared fantasy for a good hundred fifty years by now. And there was an interesting point about, oh, a century and a quarter back, when much of the world got collectively excited about what it might bring.
The time was 1898, two years before the next centennial change, and a growing sense of expectation and excitement gripped people’s imaginations, aided by an explosion of analog communication. Books had become readily available; why, you could send a dollar off in an envelope and get the title of your choice in a matter of weeks!
Newspapers, pamphlets, posters, magazines… the industrializing world brought literacy and a hunger for knowledge as never before. In the 1860’s and 70’s Jules Verne imagined journeys undersea and to the moon. In the 1890’s the great HG Wells gave us the Time Machine, The Invisible Man and War of the Worlds. So that by the late 1890’s there was a palpable expectation of scientific magic that the new century would bring.
In Europe, it became fashionable to imagine a wholesale transformation of our coming lifestyles, and this trend was magnified with several companies embracing the future with conceptual illustrations used to promote their products via postcards and posters. Television, robots, education, transportation — all depicted with illustrations of fantastical thought transference, education, postmen with wings, flying cars, water walking, radio broadcasts, homes in the clouds, weather control.
Here’s a link to a whole google page of those fascinating images. Gotta love the idea of cameras that let the police watch inside selected buildings for suspicious activity. And how much of virtually all of this stuff quickly came to fruition. Which makes our CURRENT expectations for the future all the more tantalizing…