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2010: Living In the Future

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Is there anything more charming than the past’s bright-eyed view of the future? Daniel Sinker has been blogging the book 2010: Living In the Future, a 1972 children’s book by Geoffry Hoyle that envisioned a peaceful — if simply drawn — future where autos were shipped through tubes, people boarded airplanes as they might a bus, and food is delivered by conveyor belt. Although Hoyle fell prey to the common fallacy that a future world of automated marvels goes hand in hand with a wardrobe of jumpsuits—looking like a mechanic being synonymous with scientific advances, we suppose — a lot of it is eerily on the mark, like this prophecy of Fresh Direct:

You never need to go shopping for the weekly groceries. You just dial the supermarket on their vision phone. A list of departments and their numbers appears on the screen.

When you dial the food department, you will see a picture of it. The picture shows all the different food and their prices.

You give your order over the phone and it is recorded at the supermarket by a tape recorder. Later the same day the electric delivery truck arrives with your order.


The Apple Tablet was also foretold!

To select the book you wish to read, you dial the book’s number. The first page appears on your screen. You can turn the pages backward or forward by using buttons on the vision phone.

If you are halfway through a book and you have to leave, there is no reason why you can’t finish it when you get home. You can dial the library and the book number from home and go on with your reading.


But there are also some big misses. Despite the Aquarian optimism of the ’70s, hippies have never been cool since then.

  1. Re: the jumpsuit fashions of the future…

    My in-laws in Florida give out jumpsuts as Christmas gifts. Well, to me anyway. Two-piece jumpsuits from brands like Pierre Cardin are nice and comfy, but they make me feel older than I actually am sometimes!

  2. Well, my “vision phone” at work won’t let me access the “book number”, so I can’t read it.

    However, we do board airplanes like buses… Southwest and local commuter airlines offer no-frills travel. Long gone is the glitz and glamour seen in “Catch Me If You Can”.

    What is most curious about the future we all now live in… the videophone, that futuristic marvel from the World’s Fair, is commonplace technology (webcams), but people really do not use them as videophones. I think it’s because you can see what you look like, and people are easily embarrassed by their own appearance.

    Hippies aren’t cool? Geez… then why did Woodstock inspire four more concerts? What about the whole underground/alternative scene? “Hippie” may not be cool, but the underlying philosophy still is. “What’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding?”

  3. The underground/alt scene is less about peace, love and understanding, and more about professing how much cooler and smarter you are than the mainstream.

    Woodstock is a myth; the successive concerts with that name and a Roman numeral attached were the Walt Disney adaptation of that myth.

  4. “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
    “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
    “I have a dream today!”

    The future is a myth, many myths. Some are Utopian, some are dystopian, some are laissez-faire. Which myths the people believe determines what the future might become. ESPECIALLY in a country founded upon ideals from the Age of Enlightenment.

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