Sunday, September 27, 2020

A Quote from Tesla which is very predictive in one way, and perhaps not in another way

 Nikola Tesla, famous inventor, who lived 1856--1943 said the following:

When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into

a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real

and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another

instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this but through television

and telephony, we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though

we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles;

and the instruments through which we shall be able to do this will be

amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to

carry one in his vest pocket.

The `vest pocket' at the end really impressed me.

By `a man will be able to carry one...' I don't know if he mean all people or if he actually 

meant that women would not need such a device. If that is what he meant then,

while high marks for tech-prediction, low marks for social-prediction. 

This quote is SO right-on for technology that I offer the following challenge: Find other quotes from year X that were very predictive for year X+Y for a reasonably large Y.

ADDED LATER: I will give two answers to my own challenge:

1) On the TV show THE HONEYMOONERS, in 1955, Ralph Cramden predicts 3-Dim TV. I blogged about that here

2) Did the TV show Get Smart foreshadow cell phones. Maxwell Smart's shoe-phone was portable but wearing it on his foot seems odd. It also used dial, not touch tone. Mel Brooks (co-creator of the series) points out that in the Pilot episode Max is enjoying a show and his phone goes off so he has to leave and take the call -- which was very strange then but standard now. So the show did predict one of the problems with cell phones, if not cell phones themselves. 


  1. The name is Tesla, not Testla

  2. To start with the most obvious candidate: Jules Verne had many good predictions. For example, the electric submarine Nautilus in 20,000 Leages Under the Sea. Published in 1869-70, came true around 1965.

    More examples are for instance described here:

    That page also describes his book Paris in the Twentieth Century, which apparently was not published at the time for being too unbelievable. It only appeared in 1994.

  3. In 1914, H. G. Wells predicted nuclear energy and atomic bombs in "The World Set Free."

    John Brunner's 1968 novel "Stand on Zanzibar" made quite a few predictions about the year 2010 that arguably were fulfilled.

  4. Star Trek: TOS involves the extensive use of what we now call home assistants (e.g. Google Home and Alexa). Does that count?