A 100-Year-Old French Vision of Digital Transformation

I recently stumbled across a series of French postcards that were published in 1910, probably as part of a publicity campaign for groceries, predicting what life in the future would look like.

They depict a wonderful collection of then-current technology being used for far more far-reaching uses. For example, here’s the 1910 vision of Skype/Facetime video calls:

This machine does a scan of your body and automatically prints your closes on demand. That’s now on the edge of reality — there are now lots of 3D scanning systems available, and on-site production of clothes has been patented by Amazon! 

In 1910, the first commercial flight was still four years away, and so flying was a particular fascination of the era. They predicted arial firefighters — now drones are now being used for fire surveillance.

And here’s the predicted arial coastguard — they strangely didn’t think that a helicopter would be more practical, despite predicting their existence in the next image.

What did they think you would do with a helicopter? Arial spying of neighbors, of course! And now can get arrested for that…

They also predicted having the news read out to you at your convenience at home: “Alexa, what’s the news?

The future was full of new entertainments like electric rollerskate — and yup, they now exist.

 

They predicted levitating electric trains in China? Yup, they exist

This is their vision of home automation — that looks like some sort of dishwasher on the right. And there are indeed prototype robots to do your hair…

They didn’t get everything right though — a radium-powered fireplace for the home? No thanks!

Finally, isn’t it wonderful that even as everything else changed, they predicted that people would be happily bundled up in uncomfortable, restrictive Belle Epoque clothes?!

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