100-Year-Old Drawings Show Us What People Thought The Future Would Look Like

We think they'd be satisfied. Except for the lack of a whale bus.

People have probably been trying to imagine what the future would look like for as long as they've been able to conceptualize the passing of time. Those who grew up during the advent of the home computer, for example, will remember just how completely novel those chunky desktop models were and how things such as video calls seemed like a fantasy that would never happen. Within two decades of the first home computers, however, not only was it possible, it was commonplace and inexpensive. We're now beginning to see just how quickly technology becomes obsolete as innovation pushes last year's novelty into the dustbin of history and as inventors continue to push the boundaries of what people thought was possible.

It is useful to consider the limits of our imagination by looking backwards and analyzing what the future once looked like to those who came generations before us and how it conformed (or didn't) to those visions.

The drawings you're about to see were drawn in 1899, 1900, 1901 and 1910. The Public Domain Review writes that they were originally produced as cards found in cigarette boxes and later as postcards. They represent hopes, fascinations and ideas that people about the future — specifically the year 2000 — in a time when things such as airplane flights were still in their infancy — lest we forget, the Wright Brothers' history-making flight didn't happen until 1903. They offer up a glimpse at people interested in things that would both make their domestic lives a little easier and offer them ways to explore the world around them: in short, people a lot like us.

Let's see how close they got.


1. "Auto Rollers." Hmm ... pretty close.

2. "Aerial Firemen." OK, we'll give you this one.

3. "A Rescue." Nailed it.

4. "Rural Postman?" Well ... no, not quite at that level yet.

5. "Electric Scrubbing." Check.

Wikimedia Commons

6. We think they'd have loved "Mad Max."

7. Um ... way off. Sorry about this one.


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