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The Answer Machine (1964)

Violet Gaze sent in these great images from the 1964/1971 book Childcraft Vol. 6 How Things Change. The paleo-future view of education was exceptionally accurate compared to a lot of other predictions. The homework machine envisioned in 1981 was big, but not altogether wrong.

My favorite element of this two-page spread is the fact that the girl has a hyper-futuristic "answer machine" and yet still uses a typewriter.

See also:
Homework in the Future (1981)
The Road Ahead: Future Classroom (1995)
Closer Than We Think! (1958-1963)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 7, 1993)
Project 2000 - Apple Computer (1988)

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Reader Comments (8)

The future is tricky because everything is joined together. Change one thing and everything else changes. But when he think about the future it's easier to imagine adding one cool new feature (an artificial intelligence answer machine) and leaving everything else (the typewriter, the clothes) pretty much the same. One of my favourite examples of "Getting It So Wrong, It's Right" is Kelly Freas's cover for Murray Leinster's "The Pirates of Ersatz" in the February 1959 "Astounding Science Fiction" ( showing a space pirate clamber about to clamber into an airlock, blaster in hand and slide rule clenched firmly between his teeth. Well, he might have to do some tricky astrogational calculation once the ship has been captured.

May 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPaul M. Cray

I recall having read, maybe in The Jargon File, about an early prototype of a machine to write in a TV screen via a typewriter. Not like a modern (or even old) computer, forget about memory or processors, you just type and the letters appear in the screen.

June 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJorgemán

actually, this one is called google today :)

September 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

OMG, this reminded me of Married With Children, where they got a computer.

Kelly says, "I typed in 'Ishmael'. And you know what it told me? 'Ishamel'!"

March 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBrandy

Anyone remember Max Headroom? They used computers with typewriter keyboards.

I think the setup looks rather sophisticated to me, especially for 1964.

And how about the 1966 SF classic film Fantastic Voyage, where they have the technology to shrink a nuclear powered submarine and crew yet the crew uses rolled-up PAPER CHARTS with simple diagrams to get around the interior of a human body!

It used to be that everyone thought when the future happened, everything would modernize and the past would end up in museums and antique stores as curiousities.

Now we know the laptop will sit side by side with the grandfather clock and both will be useful, to say nothing of fashionable.

September 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

As of May 15th 2009 we have something that does indeed work like the Answer Machine... It's called Wolfram|Alpha.
Typing in the first query exacly as worded above, gives the correct result.
The second has to be rephrased as "when was the phonograph invented", and the result is displayed as 19/2 1878. (hmmm)
Wolfram|Alpha does not find the image or links to movies, but that's what we have Google for.
What an incredible age we live in !!!

May 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJens S.

This exists. It's called Qwiki.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJin

Wow.. I wish I had a wall mounted flatscreen...

January 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteampunk

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