File this one under “Sometimes futurists actually get stuff right.” OpenCulture.com has unearthed a remarkably prescient short film from 1967 that shows a family using an Internet-like technology on their home and work computers to buy goods and bank remotely via “fingertip shopping.” The film was made by the Philco-Ford Company as part of its “House of the Future” series, which also predicted that programmable microwaves and flat-panel computer displays would be available in 1999. The gender roles assigned to the married couple in the film are pretty cringe-worthy she does all the online shopping on her multi-display computer while he sits in his office and waits for the bills to get piped over to his own rig but the speculative technology depicted proves to be as spot-on as the Susie Homemaker plot now seems positively archaic.
Providing the narration is Alexander Scourby, famous for his recording of the entire King James Bible, while a young Wink Martindale appears as the husband footing the bill for his wife’s fingertip shopping purchases. The Philco-Ford Company’s prognostication is clearly on another plane entirely from all those other predictions from the 1950s and 1960s that we all make fun of today—the flying cars, jet packs, robot slaves, and the like. But what about predictions for future technology that are being made in the present? For example, what do you think of IBM’s recent list of predictions, which include the bold claim that we’ll be linking our computers to our very thoughts in just five short years? Or how about Microsoft’s sleek, sterile futurescape where every conceivable surface is a computer screen (and the software giant’s future-generation Office productivity applications are running on all of them)? What’s the likelihood that IBM, Microsoft, et. al. are getting it as right today as the Philco-Ford Company got it way back then? (By Damon Poeter)