Victorian Futures

If you want to get a perspective on the hype surrounding new technology, its always worth looking back through history to see how the past viewed the future. You often find a few persistent visions that recur every time a new technology comes along. These dreams usually have some kind of transcedent aspect to them, and are continually re-invented from the technological capabilities of the time.

A good example of this is illustrated by this series of victorian postcards giving a vision of the year 2000. There are a few future memes that have come up again and again – like personal flying machines and weather control machines. Another consistent curiosity for futurologists is the sea – it seems we’re always just a few years from living under it or walking on it. I’ve got a fantastic album from 1973 by the Soul Searchers called ‘We the People’ that includes a track called ‘1993’ – “will we all be living/in new homes in the sea/by 1993?” goes the refrain. Funk Futurology – hmmmmmm, nice!

The best thing in this selection of cards is the things they get right – particularly ‘Televised Outside Broadcasting’ and ‘Police X-ray Surveillance Machines’. That last one is almost scarily prescient – but substitute the x-ray with its contemporary heirs DNA and CCTV…

One comment


    2000 as seen by Victorians pointed me to this entertaining collection of turn of the 20th C postcards predicting what life would be…

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