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Saturday
Sep052009

Solar Cars, Electric Guitars and Bionic Arms (1977)

The Journal News of Hamilton, OH devoted much of its February 27, 1977 edition to "Our Third 100 Years." Harding Junior High student James Schmidt wrote a piece for the newspaper, imagining what life might look like in the 21st century. James describes 13-year-old kids driving solar-powered cars, futuristic electric guitars and his father's bionic arm. Sounds about right.

1977 Feb 27 Journal News - Hamilton OH Paleo-future

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Reader Comments (8)

Someone really should have checked Mr. Schmidt's grammar before publishing this one. He has almost as many mistakes as my blog does!

September 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDr. Schluss

I like the futuristic things, and then backwards things. There's the "awaking clock" also known as an "alarm clock", solar panels that change to spray on by the end of the paragraph that introduces them which makes me wonder why it needs to be a panel if it can be sprayed on. Shipping companies don't exist as his father has to buy his own space craft to deliver food off planet. Also, batteries are great producers of energy in this far off future. A road that can't be damaged is actually a bad idea, if somebody wants to get rid of the road it would be very difficult, but if there was a substance that could easily dissolve the road then little hoodlums like James could destroy roads very easily. If they had to up and leave really fast then the road would never go away, unlike modern roads which can be abandoned and will eventually be destroyed by the environment.

September 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNoah

That sounds like a kickass future.

September 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

So, a 13-year-old is allowed to drive a car, but he doesn't have his own phone. They have miraculous bionic limbs, but they still haven't developed safety guards to keep people from cutting their arms off. They eat freeze-dried food, but they still have to simmer it on a conventional stove. Apparently people in the future enjoy vigorous exercise right after a heavy meal.

These things I can let pass, but the idea that teenagers would tolerate "regular family discussions"? Forget about it. 13-year-olds in 2077 will have as little patience for that kind of patronizing BS as they did in 1977.

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterazinyk

James Schmidt would now be in his mid-40s. I wonder if he reads this blog and what he thinks of his predictions?

September 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRodger

James probably had his arms cut off because he forgot to predict safety devices so now he can't post on the Internet. :(

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNoah

I actually find this article rather astounding. He fails to predict the cell phone and the demise of video tapes and he was a little caught up in space fever, but we can forgive these things. Honestly if the word "tapes" had been omitted, his only mistake would have been not seeing the ubiquitous communications of the future.

Lets break it down.

He sees a futuristic version of an alarm clock. We might have made significant strides in sleep research by then, but odds are, people will still stay up too late and get up too early.

He predicts that some food will be freeze dried (presumably for easy transport), and that electric cooking will be common. Furthermore he predicts that highly renewable food sources like algea, syrup, and fuit will be staples of the diet; and that farming these items will be a job overseen/managed by humans. Nothing unlikely about any of that.

He predicts Interplanetary Spaceship Construction will be a future school course. Probably a safe bet as we exhaust the resources of this planet.

Tele-learning. No question - its already here, and its influence is only likely to grow in the future.

He predicts an updated version of the electric guitar. Seems likely that instruments will continue to evolve, but still be based on ancient designs, just as they are now.

He predicts that minor damage to solar cells will be fixable by using some sort of silicon based coating-sealant repair spray. Highly plausible.

The car of the future is electric, can be driven by people of a very young age, and uses the drivers license as the key to start it. All extremely likely, since advances in electric power for cars and driving automation are proceeding rapidly.

He predicts very low pollution due to a sea-change in electric power sources, citing solar and nuclear as the primary power generators. These are as likely to emerge as the primary sources as any of the technologies available.

He predicts a road that does not need repair.Self healing materials are popping up in research labs all over the world, there is no reason that roads of the future could not be made from durable, self healing materials that may go lifetimes without requiring manual repair. Note that this does not make them indestructible.

He visits a space shuttle plant. I have to imagine in 1977 that Space Program Euphoria and the announcement of the space shuttle had a lot to do with this item. He does mention a more advanced plane is being constructed here as well, a single stage to orbit model. If Interplanetary Spaceship Construction is a school course, we must have to imagine that spaceship construction facilities must be fairly common. His only mistake here is not guessing that people will be using the ancestors of the space shuttle, and not something still called by that name.

He predicts messaging communications via computer. Seems obvious now.

He predicts that people with limb injuries will have them be replaceable by bionic implements, and furthermore realistically suggests that they will have to be recharged. Research into exoskeletons and bionic limbs has advanced dramatically in the last decade, and this seems plausible.

He predicts that the future will still contain dangers, such as farm accidents. We'll never be able to remove the chance of all accidents. Big, powerful machines plus human lapse of concentration or judgment can and will sometimes result in someone getting injured or killed.

Exercise will still be a part of a healthy lifestyle.

Small businesses will still be looking to eliminate the middle man, in this case, buy a space vehicle to avoid paying someone else to ship off-world.

He predicts people will still relax and watch video. He mentions "tapes" - a bummer, but even Star Trek made that blunder. I think the idea that recreational video will still be around is likely.

Most of this seems quite plausible to me, and it was written by a kid in junior high at the time! Ridiculing it seems rather foolish when predictions by adults of the day often seem stupid by comparison.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterharborpirate

These days, solar power is the way to go. Great to hear that solar power is being incorporated to cars.

September 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersydney

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