CXO

A 1969 perspective on computers in the future

Remember The Jetsons and how cool 'the future' was supposed to be? This 1969 video shows the convenience of online shopping, banking, and an 'electronic correspondence machine'. It shows a future with a passable resemblance to today.

Remember The Jetsons and how cool "the future" was supposed to be? This 1969 video shows the convenience of online shopping, banking, and an "electronic correspondence machine." It shows a future with a passable resemblance to today.

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One of the most fun things about looking at how things used to be is looking at what people used to think "the future" would look like. This video is a case in point. Here we have a vision of home computing from the time the original Star Trek was on the air.

Today we do pretty much everything shown in this video, just a little differently. The dials and push buttons look quaint by today's technological standards. It's interesting to see flat screens, however, in an era that didn't have TV tubes as large as the displays shown. The "electronic correspondence machine" is interesting in that it foreshadows the development of tablet PCs, a technology that still isn't quite where it needs to be for mass adoption.

It's interesting what the video says goes on in the background:

"To maintain these, and hundreds of complex electronic circuits, a monitor checks all circuits every few seconds, inserts a backup circuit if and when trouble develops, and alerts the Communal Service Agency for replacement."

The images on the video suggest that they're talking about physical circuits in the home computers, but I can't figure out how they thought that would work. It's much more analogous to the network connections that happen on the Internet between routers today. That may be more what they were suggesting.

Of the nontechnical aspects to the video, I thought it was interesting to notice the misogynistic aspect of it whereby the wife would do nothing but shop and watch the kids, while the husband did all the bills, banking, and correspondence from his workstation. And he did all this while holding his head and shaking it at his wife's extravagance. I guess they didn't expect culture to change much in the future even if the technology did.

What views of the future do you think we have today that we'll look back on in 40 years and go "What were they THINKING?"

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