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See What People of 1967 Imagined the World Would Be Like in 1999

Spoiler: lots of egg chairs, turtlenecks, and computer servants.

A mother and son, both bedecked in flowing space-age capes, frolic along the beach. “What year is it now? I forgot,” says the little boy. “Here, I’ll show you,” his mother responds. She writes “1999 AD” in the sand.

This short film, produced in 1967 by the Philco-Ford Corporation, a maker of battery-powered tech, imagines the distant future of the year 1999. Amid all the mid-century-modern set dressing, they actually got a lot of things right. In this “society of tomorrow,” we can see precursors to personal computers, email, FaceTime, podcasts (complete with the 2x speed feature), online shopping, 3D imaging and more. 

But, clearly, this isn’t what 1999 was like. The computer technology is all very analog, not to mention the fact that the social aspects are woefully unprogressive. For example, Karen the “wife, mother, and part-time homemaker” spends her days shopping on her computer, after which the bill is sent to her husband’s office computer.

It just goes to show how inept we are at imagining the future. We’ll just have to wait and see what 2049 will be like.

Every day we track down a Video Wonder: an audiovisual offering that delights, inspires, and entertains. Have you encountered a video we should feature? Email ella@atlasobscura.com.