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Literature / What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years

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Cover of the December 1900 issue, in which the article was published.

Automobiles will be cheaper than horses are today. Farmers will own automobile hay-wagons, automobile truck-wagons, plows, harrows and hay-rakes. A one-pound motor in one of these vehicles will do the work of a pair of horses or more. Children will ride in automobile sleighs in winter. Automobiles will have been substituted for every horse vehicle now known. There will be, as already exist today, automobile hearses, automobile police patrols, automobile ambulances, automobile street sweepers.

An article originally published in the Ladies' Home Journal in 1900 predicting what may happen by the year 2000. Some predictions were surprisingly accurate, managing to predict air conditioning, fast food, and global transmission of news. Some weren't, such as hot and cold air being supplied via pipes from a central plant and wild animals existing only in zoos. Some were technically correct, but completely missed the mark. For example, opera is transmitted to private homes, but it's hardly a major form of entertainment, we haven't exterminated mosquitoes and flies (although we wish we had), and while weaponized flying machines and forts on wheels do exist, they're not the airships and literal forts on wheels that the article predicted.

This article has been copied around the Internet. Since it is from 1900, it has fallen into the public domain, and may be found among other places here. Not to be confused with the book The Next 100 Years, by geopolitical scientist George Friedman, which predicts the 21st century.

Tropes include:

  • Expanded States of America: The article predicts that Mexico, Nicaragua, and many other Central and South American countries would have willingly joined the USA to escape European expansionism. This, naturally, did not happen. On the other hand, the article's low guess on the population of America is pretty close to the reality (350,000,000; actual US population census in 2000: 281,421,906).
  • Failed Future Forecast: Some of the parts that aren't tech-related simply fall into this, such as the assumption that the proposed inter-ocean canal would be built through Nicaragua as originally planned (which would prompt them to join the US, above). It wound up being the Panama Canal instead.
  • Futuristic Superhighway: This article predicted that cars would travel on underground or overhead roads, leaving the streets clear.
  • I Want My Jetpack: Where are those lightning-throwing blimps??
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Some people originally believed this article to be fake because the accurate predictions were too good.
  • Zeerust:
    • A lot of the predictions are correct in basic idea, but not in how they are actually implemented. For instance, fast food and home delivery are both predicted more or less accurately, but the writer at the time believed they would be delivered via "pneumatic tubes" rather than by car, and that such establishments would use actual dishes, rather than the paper/plastic/cardboard disposables most fast food restaurants provide. As a general rule, while the article is mostly spot-on about our technological capabilities, it misses the effects that most of these technologies would have on society as a whole.
    • In some parts of the world, typically poorer areas with cold winters, heat is delivered by hot air sent from a centralized location.