Remember President Ronald Reagan's plan for space weapons in the 1980s? Today, it's little more than a punchline, but it used to be serious business. How serious? Video game serious. Yes, there really was an SDI video game, and thanks to the Internet Archive you can even play it.
Think people going bald here in the 21st century have it tough? Just imagine what the folks of 100 years ago went through. Balding men were apparently so desperate for hair that they'd let a doctor near them with this terrifying machine.
Billy Wilder directed some of the greatest films of midcentury, including Double Indemnity, Some Like it Hot, and my personal favorite Wilder film, The Apartment. But Wilder was pretty skeptical of emerging tech, as we can see from this 1986 acceptance speech at the American Film Institute.
Think of it as an early version of the Kindle, except from a time when Amazon was still just the name of a river.
By this stage, it's fairly clear that flying cars aren't going to happen any time soon, despite what the media might want to say. And there's a simple reason for that — the whole concept of flying cars is pretty stupid in the first place.
On January 2, 1951, the Rex Morgan, M.D. comic strip featured a New Year's greeting insisting to readers that time is measured by progress instead of simply by years. And it's not a bad thought! But looking at the "headlines of the future" from 1951, one can't help but be a little bummed out.
Throughout the 20th century, radio nerds were trying to figure out how to build the perfect headphones. Over-the-ear varieties could get hot and sweaty. In-ear varieties would fall out. And then there were these clamp-ons from 1927, which looked like the least comfortable of the bunch — despite what the manufacturers…
Remember the 1983 movie WarGames? The film is about a computer “game” with the potential to start thermonuclear war. But strangely this scenario is more truth than fiction. Because in 1979 programmers at NORAD almost started World War III when they accidentally ran a computer simulation of a Soviet attack.
The Simpsons and The Jetsons are two of the greatest American cartoons ever created. So it was exciting to see those two worlds collide in last night's new episode of The Simpsons. Too bad it was so uncomfortable.
Thanks to tech like Skype, the ability to both see and hear someone across thousands of miles is a mundane exercise for most of us here in the early 21st century. But back in 1947, signing a contract over videophone was like looking into the future. Even if that future turned out a bit different than we were expecting.
In last year's documentary Citizenfour, Edward Snowden said, "I remember what the internet was like before it was being watched." Snowden is just 31 years old, so there's simply no way this is true. Intelligence agencies have been keeping tabs on the internet since before Snowden was even born. They were instrumental…
I love old slang. And today I came across my new favorite phrase from the beforetimes. It dates back to the late 19th century, yet anybody from the early 21st century can easily figure out what it means: Got the morbs.
Life for Americans after World War II was supposed to be filled with open roads and open waters. The roads, more often than not, were for getting to work. And the water? That was pure leisure time. This "water-mobile" of 1947 was imagined to provide the best of both, with an enormous (and, one imagines, gas-guzzling)…
How close are we to living in Blade Runner's dark and moody dystopia of 2019? Pretty damn close, if you follow the Instagram account bladerunnerreality. At least aesthetically.
Back in 1991 the BBC visited Los Angeles to ask if it was the city of the future. Their answer? Yes, but not in a good way.
It's 2015. But sometimes it feels like our futuristic dreams are stuck in the 1950s and 60s. And there's actually a good reason for that.
Arthur C. Clarke made it his business to look into the future. And just like the dozens of prognosticators who would come before and after him, he got a few things right and a few things wrong.