The Tomorrow Show: Technology Predictions From 1994

Another, uh, treasure from my newly-organized storage locker: the June, 1994 edition of Playboy. I received a subscription to Playboy from my then-girlfriend’s younger brother. I think he gave it to me just to bug his sister.

After six months I canceled the subscription out of guilt. I was a fourth-year student doing fine arts at a really liberal university. How could I, you know, support the objectification of women and so forth?

Looking at the magazine now, it’s extremely tame. Maxim is several degrees raunchier and more offensive to women (and gays and non-Americans and, and, and). These were the early days of the Internet, but they do have an article on internet addiction.

The Size of a Credit Card

The article I’m interested in, however, is called “The Tomorrow Show”:

Here’s what masterminds of entertainment, fashion, food and electronics have in store for the next few decades.

They’ve got a bunch of experts from IBM, Microsoft, Panasonic, Lucas, Joe Boxer and so forth to make prognostications about the future. Here’s the opening one, from Roger Fidler, director of new media at Knight-Ridder Newspapers:

Printed newspapers won’t exist in 40 years. Instead, the news will be delivered via a credit-card-style memory device to lightweight magazine-size tables. Full-color screen displays will have the clarity and contrast of ink on paper, with the ability to provide not only written words and still pictures but also full-motion video clips, animated graphics and sound.

Excepting the delivery medium, that’s pretty accurate. ‘Credit card sized’ is a bit of a theme. Here’s Todd Rundgren:

Music will be part of a mixed-media presentation. It’s already happening. Classical music written strictly for its aficionados is less popular than pseudoclassical soundtrack music accompanying a big-eyed alien or dinosaur. The delivery of music will have a great impact on the content of personal collections. Because music will be downloaded directly to your home, you won’t have to buy an entire album–just ten minutes of your favorite songs. And since there will be no packaging, it will cost you only about a buck. To eliminate the technical complications of spinning disks, we’ll store music on nonmechanical flash-memory cards about the size of credit cards.

Does he mean ‘a buck’ for each song, or for ‘ten minutes of your favourite songs’? Either way, he’s dead on. Except, of course, for the whole ‘size of credit cards’ thing.

Luxury Travel, From Home or Abroad

Here’s Peter Main, former Vice President of Marketing (Marketing? What does he know?) at Nintendo:

Right now, if you want to go scuba diving in the Mediterranean, you have to take a plane halfway around the world. But in the future, you’ll simply call up that experience on a computer and monitor and it will seem so real, you’ll need a towel to dry off. I can even imagine these games becoming part of some national health program as a way to keep people mentally fit.

I want my virtual reality Med. Sometimes when I visit Second Life I leave feeling dirty, but that’s a whole other thing.

Richard Branson was clearly on the brown acid when he predicted the future:

Forty years from now, airlines will offer a multifaceted flying experience. Planes will be larger and flights shorter–some a matter of minutes–enabling passengers to fly nonstop around the world. Passengers will be able to shop, have their hair done, study a foreign language or gamble in their seats, which will be adjacent to a Jacuzzi or will conveniently convert into full-size beds. Special lighting, aromatherapy and acupuncture will eliminate jet lag.

He goes on to talk about an in-flight personal trainer and how planes will be fueled by recycled material. What a nut. Of course, he’s soon to be right on the gambling.

Here Be The Thumbnails

The images below link to the four pages that make up the original article–I scanned them in. The thumbnails link to large originals which will be easy to read. If anybody wants to apply some OCR magic to them, go right ahead:

   

Coincidentally, Seth Godin also links to a technology article from 1994.

7 comments

  1. Branson is working towards flights that will last mere minutes: Virgin Galactic suborital flights.

    As for all that luxury stuff on flights – Virgin Atlantic tries – but people just want to read a book, watch a movie and fall asleep.

  2. Why do you think anybody predicting 40 yrs into the future is a nut…its just been 13 yrs since the article, so hold on!

  3. Re: Jerry

    Airlines are stripping down services, not ramping them up. This is not entirely true of the private jet industry though. These jets DO have hot-tubs, Wi-Fi (Shop, study a foreign language, gamble? Check your email, play games, watch movies at will, whatever else you can do on a laptop.), fold-down beds (Or in some cases actual full bedrooms), aroma-therapy, and anything else some rich oil sheik or IT billionaire could ask for (read: Pay for). This is just a pipe dream for public commercial flights though, unless someone can come up with a (Recycled?) super cheap airline fuel. With current infrastructure and fuel costs it’s a wonder public flights are even still carried out daily.

  4. There was a cheesy 1980s TV show that would tell you things about the future. What was it called? The World of Tomorrow or something like that? I can’t remember, but it was on weekend mornings on regular cable. They introduced crazy concepts, like access cards for hotel rooms. 🙂

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