Friday, October 12, 2007

Glenn T. Seaborg's 1989 (1964)

The September 20, 1964 Chicago Tribune ran an article about Glenn T. Seaborg's predictions for the futuristic year of 1989. An excerpt appears below.
In another 25 years, [Seaborg] speculates, teen-agers and adults will have two-way wrist watch radios . . . their own computers to aid studies or automatically translate foreign tongues into English . . . vaccines against cancer . . . synthetic foods . . . books from electronic libraries via closed-circuit TV into their homes . . . flights to Europe in one or two hours . . . clothes of special material which they'll wear once or a few times and then throw away . . . security from hurricanes or tornadoes because scientists will have learned how to prevent disastrous storms.

See also:
Closer Than We Think! Throw-Away Clothes (1959)
The Answer Machine (1964)
Health Care in 1994 (1973)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 1, 1993)
Vision (Clip 1, 1993)
Lyndon B. Johnson on 2063 A.D. (1963)
Language of the Future (1982)
Tomorrow's TV-Phone (1956)
That 60's Food of the Future

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

two-way wrist watch radios

Why did people want this back then? Everyone from Dick Tracy onward wanted wristwatch radios. We can do that now, but who the hell would want it? In 1989, maybe not, but now...

vaccines against cancer

Getting there.


books from electronic libraries via closed-circuit TV into their homes

Yeah. Books. Might as well still call digital information "books."

clothes of special material which they'll wear once or a few times and then throw away

This is progress? I guess Seaborg wasn't too into environmentalism.

RaleighRob said...

Well, for two-way radios, I guess the concept of the cell phone was one they just hadn't developed into their thinking. But I'd say it's a better invention for the most part.

The "Flights to Europe in one or two hours" is hilarious! Back then they probably couldn't imagine it'd take longer than that just to board.

Anonymous said...

Seaborg's forecasts are a lot better than most. And he was still wrong perhaps ninety percent of the time.

The other ten percent is arguable.

He made the best guesses about communications. But 1989 was ten years too soon.

Communication satellites had been proved by 1964. Cell phones and the internet came after 1989.

The hypersonic flights to Europe could have been. But the money didn't work.

The Concorde, which wasn't far off the speed mark, always lost money.

Disposable clothing isn't per se a bad idea. The idea was to allow everyone to dress as they pleased. The intent wasn't to save money.

Today it is often cheaper to discard casual clothing than to clean it when traveling. And some people do.

Look at the packaging, plastic bags, newspapers and junk mail we toss every day. Central recycling is more efficient than personal reuse although we still don't do enough of it.

Mark Plus said...

Seaborg's forecasts don't sound any weirder than the stuff FM Esfandiary predicted back in 1981 for that far off, mysterious year 2010.

Kaleberg said...

Actually, the synthetic food thing isn't as off base as I thought. Have you been to a supermarket lately? Between the GM produce, hormone blasted meats and the amazing chemical constructs that line the aisles, we are eating synthetic food.

As for disposable clothes, we aren't there yet, but clothing prices have plummeted. Some of those cheap Chinese tee shirts are only wear once. You're lucky to get three or four wearings out of a cheap Chinese sweater, but the price is right. Maybe pants are still re-usable, but Chinese sweateshop scientists are working on true disposables.

Anonymous said...

This is progress? I guess Seaborg wasn't too into environmentalism.

FYI, Mr. Anonymous dude, environmentalism = animism

Seaborg would have put people like you into a cage and studied you.

Todd Fletcher said...

"...clothes of special material which they'll wear once or a few times and then throw away . . ."

He predicted WalMart.