In the 1960s, the future had a Jetsons-type look and feel. Things haven’t quite turned out so Jetsonian yet, of course — as they say, “the future ain’t what it used to be.”
A video surfaced, showing what shopping (e-commerce!) would look like in the year 1999 — as seen from the year 1967. The video, produced by Philco-Ford (didn’t they make TVs?), shows the electronics that would be in a typical home by 1999 — complete with home computers and video monitors that could be used for online shopping and financial transactions.These capabilities definitely became a reality by the year 1999, and even more so today.
The online transactions from online shopping are carried out electronically. (True to 1960s mores, the wife is relegated to homemaker status, while the husband handles the finances.)
“What the wife selects on her console will be paid for by the husband at his counterpart console. All bills and transactions will be carried out electronically. A central bank computer will debit the family’s account the amount of purchases and credit the department store, informing the family’s home computer at the same time. Father, at the touch of a button, receives an instantaneous printed copy of his budget, the amount of taxes that he owes, the payments left on the car, and so forth. All documents and household records are available on the video screen for immediate reference.”
An electronic correspondence machine, or a “home post office,” which “allows for instant written communication between individuals anywhere in the world,” is obviously the precursor to email, but messages are actually penned in versus typed.
Webcams keep a watch on various parts of the home. Interestingly, the video monitors are flat-panel, versus the bulky cathode ray tubes of the time. There is a self-healing autonomic aspect to the systems, with circuits constantly monitored and rerouted when connections are down by remote sensors.
Only a few missed predictions stand out — as noted above, women were still relegated to roles as homemakers. And the home computer equipment and monitors were large and clunky looking — laptops and handheld devices were not foreseen. Online shopping products were displayed in analog video mode.
And, the end users in the video were not having their online experience ruined by spam, spyware, phishing and viruses. That stuff wasn’t even a gleam in evildoers’ eyes in 1967.
A few hits and misses — but, hey the producers of this video weren’t too far off.
(Originally published in ZDNet.)