When 20th century innovators looked into the future of telephony and networking, they saw videophones, telecommuting, faxing from the beach, and more.
Two 20th century video clips have been making the rounds of the 21st century Internet recently, containing old predictions for the future of phones and networking.
A 1993 TV commercial campaign from AT&T uses the slogan, "You will." Narrated by Tom Selleck, some predictions are dead-on accurate, including home-office business conference calls, movies on demand and GPS navigation.
My favorite prediction is that you'll be able to send a fax from the beach. Working from the beach was a favorite prediction for futurists in the 90s. Now we can do it -- but we don't. There's no way I'm bringing my $500 iPad to the beach, with all that sand and salt water.
Also: Faxing? Who uses faxes anymore? I guess lots of people do, because you see fax numbers on business cards. But I don't know anybody who's sent or received a fax in nearly a decade.
Other predictions were almost right: The video predicts we'll do e-commerce from cash machines, and video calling from phone booths.
There's a reason why so many of the predictions in the "You will" campaign are accurate; most were already in the pipeline.
Earlier, a 1955 Universal Newsreel predicts the "often-forecast" video phone -- the "telephone of tomorrow."
"At long last, the reason for the primping that usually precedes a woman's phone call," says the announcer. Good grief.
The cost: $5,000 per phone, or $43,000 today, notes a National Archives blog, which adds that the dial tone and rotary phone were relatively recent in 1955. Previously, people had to phone the operator to place a call.
What are your favorite retro-future telephony and networking predictions? Go ahead and discuss them on the message boards below -- I'll get on with my primping.