100-Year Predictions…that Came True?

You’ve probably never heard the name John Elfreth Watkins, Jr before. But in 1900, he made a series of predictions…predictions of the future. Did any of them come true?

John Elfreth Watkins, Jr.: Predictions of the Future

Of course, some of Watkins’ predictions of the future were hilariously wrong (“A man or woman unable to walk ten miles at a stretch will be regarded as a weakling”). Still, Watkins correctly predicted things like digital color photography, television, prepared meals, and cell phones. Here’s some of Watkins’ correct predictions of the future from The Saturday Evening Post

…Yet each new year, a new batch of predictors offer us their forecasts for the future. Most are promptly forgotten. One who deserves to be remembered, though, is John Elfreth Watkins, Jr., a Post writer in the early 20th Century. Back in December 1900, he wrote his ideas about “What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years” for the Post’s sister publication, the Ladies’ Home Journal….

Where Watkins was correct…he was unusually far-sighted.

  • Americans will be taller by from one to two inches.
  • Photographs will reproduce all of nature’s colors… [They will be transmitted] from any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence, snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later.
  • Wireless telephone and telegraph circuits will span the world. A husband in the middle of the Atlantic will be able to converse with his wife sitting in her boudoir in Chicago. We will be able to telephone to China quite as readily as we now talk from New York to Brooklyn.
  • Man will see around the world. Persons and things of all kinds will be brought within focus of cameras connected electrically with screens at opposite ends of circuits, thousands of miles at a span.
  • Rising early to build the furnace fire will be a task of the olden times. Homes will have no chimneys, because no smoke will be created within their walls.
  • Refrigerators will keep great quantities of food fresh for long intervals.
  • Fast-flying refrigerators on land and sea will bring delicious fruits from the tropics and southern temperate zone within a few days. The farmers of South America… whose seasons are directly opposite to ours, will thus supply us in winter with fresh summer foods which cannot be grown here.

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