By: Jocelyn Schwalm
They say hindsight is 20/20, but what about foresight? Knowing what is to be invented before its time requires a clear view into possibilities and an instinct for success.
In 1888, the concept of the future debit card was brought into existence by a writer named Edward Ballamy. He coined the term “Universal Credit” and foresaw citizens of the future being able to use these cards whenever to access their money without having it physically on them. The first credit card came into existence in 1950, so this idea was created well before its time.
Nikolas Tesla, an avid futurist, predicted cell phones all the way back in 1926. He described the cellular device as “the earth being converted into a huge brain, with communication being instant, irrespective of distance.” Having this sort of insight so early on seems to be somewhat prophetic. He even predicted that we would be able to carry these mobile devices around with us in our “vest pockets.” In order to put into perspective the prophetic nature of his comments based on the modern technology of 1926, the first computer wasn’t even invented until 1946, and that only had the power of a standard calculator.
It seems that Tesla wasn’t the only one with an uncanny ability to map out the future before his time, as Isaac Asimov demonstrated the same kind of accurate future predictions. In 1964, he was quoted as saying “Appliances of 2014 will have no electric cords.” He spoke of phones being both sight and sound, an unfathomable concept in 1946, as phones were almost attached to the structural integrity of houses. He predicted the internet with alarming accuracy describing it as “a connected library.”
Perhaps the most impressive prediction was by another well-known author, George Orwell, who wrote the science fiction book Nineteen Eighty-Four. He accurately forecasted the future mobile devices in 1948 when he said “telescreens will transmit and receive simultaneously.” Orwell seemed to think that our modern technology would contribute to the idea that a “big brother” source was tracking our every move. Orwell not only hypothesized future technology but the impact on privacy that said technology would instill. These foreseers planted an ideological seed in the minds of those looking to make an impact on society through new technology.