Originally posted on flycz:
Philip K. Dick, Ubik (1969):
Back in the kitchen he fished in his various pockets for a dime, and, with it, started up the coffeepot. Sniffing the — to him — very unusual smell, he again consulted his watch, saw that fifteen minutes had passed; he therefore vigorously strode to the apt door, turned the knob and pulled on the release bolt.
The door refused to open. It said, ‘Five cents, please.’
He searched his pockets. No more coins; nothing. ‘I’ll pay you tomorrow,’ he told the door. Again he tried the knob. Again it remained locked tight. ‘What I pay you ,’ he informed it, ‘is in the nature of a gratuity; I don’t have to pay you.’
‘I think otherwise,’ the door said. ‘Look in the purchase contract you signed when you bought this conapt.’
In his desk drawer he found the contract; since signing it he had…
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Originally posted on flycz:
Woody Allen, “Mechanical Objects”, San Francisco, August 1968:
About three years ago I couldn’t stand it anymore. I was home one night. I called a meeting with my posessions. I got everything I owned into the living room. My toaster, my clock, my blender. They never been in the living room before. And I spoke to them. I opened with a joke. And then I said “I know what’s going on, and cut it out!” I have a sun lamp, but as I sit under it, it rains on me. And I spoke to each appliance, I was really articulate. Then I put them back, and I felt good. Two nights later I’m watching my portable television set, and the set begins to jump up and down, and I go up to it. And I always talk before I hit, and I said “I thought we had discussed this…
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Flora F.F. Stacey, an English stenographer, had been experimenting with “art-typing” for several years before her 1898 butterfly drawing catapulted her into international fame. The first edition of Pitman’s Typewriter Manual, published in 1893, included several examples of typed ornaments that a typewriter operator could use to embellish his or her work. Though Stacey may have well produced more typewriter art before her famous butterfly, none of it is preserved and the anonymous plate from the 1893 manual is now considered the first recorded example of “art-typing.”
From the Pew Research Center:
More than 30 years ago, the Institute for the Future, a Silicon Valley think tank, produced a book-length report on the development and potential impacts of electronic information technologies. What’s impressive is how much the report’s authors got right even though their fundamental assumption — that teletext and videotex, two nearly-forgotten platforms, would be in general use by the turn of the century – didn’t pan out.
Back in 1982, when the report was published, not only was the internet nonexistent but its ancestor, ARPANET, had fewer than 300 host computers, mostly at universities, government agencies and the military. At the time, many observers believed that teletext (one-way communication) and videotex (two-way), delivered to televisions or special-purpose terminals via telephone lines or coaxial cable, would be the main vehicles for bringing electronic information services to the masses.
The report’s authors predicted that by 1998, teletext/videotex services would have “relatively widespread penetration. It may not be in every home, but it is probably in a neighbor’s home, and you might be considering getting the service yourself.” People would use the services for messaging, finding information, shopping and remote monitoring, as well as basic computing. Despite the differences in technology, that’s not a bad description of how people use the internet. (And for the record, about a quarter of the U.S. population was online in 1998).
Even though videotex and teletext never took off the way the report’s authors thought they would (slow speeds and lack of common standards being the biggest obstacles), many of their projections will sound familiar:
Other predictions didn’t quite hit the mark, or at least haven’t yet become common:
The  IBM report [envisioning a “global, multi-media, videotext-like utility"] and the  AT&T video look prescient today but they actually repeat many predictions that were made years before 1989 and 1993. The predictions eventually became a reality but it is how we got there that these descriptions of the future missed. To re-phrase Lewis Carroll, if you know where you are going, it matters a lot which road you are taking.