The Extinction of C, X and Q

TOWER GROVE — More than a 100 years, long before the title “futurist” probably existed, a civil engineer John Elfreth Watkins Jr. wrote an article predicting what life in America would be like in the year 2000. This wasn’t the floating cars of “Back to the Future II” or the Big Brother of Orwell, but apparently legit attempts to scan the horizon for what would happen next.

“These prophecies will seem strange, almost impossible,” the article begins.

BBC News took a look this week at some of the predictions in Watkins’ article for Ladies Home Journal from 1900 to see how close he came to foretelling the future. (You can see a scan of the original article here.) As BBC points out, he got some right, ludicrously right:

“Wireless telephone and telegraph circuits will span the world. A husband in the middle of the Atlantic will be able to converse with his wife sitting in her boudoir in Chicago. We will be able to telephone to China quite as readily as we now talk from New York to Brooklyn.”

“Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence, snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later.”

“There will be air-ships. … They will be maintained as deadly war-vessels by all military nations.”

Some were way off:

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