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100 Years of Failure: 10 Technologies We Were Promised But Never Got
In Your Flying Car Awaits, author Paul Milo discusses "robot butlers, lunar vacations and other dead-wrong predictions of the 20th Century." Here are 10 calamitous tech failures. Even the ones that did make it aren't anything like their original visions.
Pacific Bell Video Phone Concept 1991
In 1991, Pacific Bell released a video for a concept technology it called the video phone. The video phone would show the caller on a video screen while you talked to them, and amazingly you wouldn't even need a handset to use it. Microphones would pick up your voice and you could simply talk to the screen as through the two of you were speaking face to face.
How has it panned out? While no one in the year 2011 uses a "video phone," there is FaceTime on the new Apple iPhone 4. This technology allows you to chat with your caller via built-in cameras on the phone. Skype and other webcam chat technologies have produced a near identical reality to Pacific Bell's vision, only they use computers instead of telephones to function. Via Focus.Com
The Self-Driving Car
By now we were all supposed to be able to take our hands off the wheel and let our cars do the driving. At the 1939 World's Fair in New York, one exhibit depicted future expressways filled with autos controlled by radio from a central tower. Sixty years later, near San Diego, engineers built a demonstration "smart roadway" that used sensors and computers to keep the traffic flowing. With the advent of GPS, advanced collision-avoidance technology and cars that can even parallel park without human assistance, this is one innovation we might actually be seeing pretty soon.
The Safe Cigarette
Image Via The Chicago Tribune
When the US Surgeon General officially declared, in the early 1960s, that cigarettes cause cancer, tobacco companies responded by trying to come up with a truly safe smoke. Company scientists tried a variety of methods, including attempting to identify and filter out the harmful chemicals and even experimenting with smokable lettuce, but the effort proved a bust, and was finally abandoned following the successful cigarette company lawsuits of the 1990s.
Quantum Computing vs. Paleofuture
How Have Past Predictions Panned Out?
Apple's Project 2000The Computer Doctor
The Answer MachineVia Focus.Com
Via Your 3D Source
Current Predictions for the Future of Computing
Now that we have examined how some past technology predictions have turned out in the modern world, lets examine popular predictions being made today about the world of tomorrow.