In past posts I’ve shown you Ben Bova’s SF predictions on ebooks, Isaac Asimov’s view of the future of education, and other tech predictions, but would you believe that Atari, who is now remembered for being a gaming company, foresaw the rise of the WWW and our current reliance on tablets and smartphones for every aspect of our lives (my life, anyway)?
It’s true. They did.
Earlier today Bob Stein posted a series of concept drawings over on that he created with Glenn Keane, a well-known Disney animator. The drawings were made for Atari in 1982 and they show a remarkably accurate view of how we now use gadgetry in out every day life. The device Bob thought up was called the Intelligent Encyclopedia, but we would now be more familiar with it as a tablet or a smartphone.
Here’s a gallery of the drawings. I particularly like the one of the guy in an earthquake reaching for his gadget before even fleeing the house. It’s so true and it is certainly what I did when I was in one last summer. The kid who is drawing rude pictures of his teacher is also particularly striking.
Children in the dinosaur exhibit at the Museum of Natural History carry Intelligent Encyclopedia’s with headphones around instead of audiotape players. Interactive simulations of dinosaur life from the IE are running on the wall monitors.
An architect in New York studies Japanese motif for a project he’s working on, while a teacher in Toyo talks with her class about western architectural styles.
In a bar, the two men at the right are watching football on the screen and running what-if simulations on the countertop Intelligent Encyclopedia which second guess the quarterback. The couple on the left is taking an on-the-spot course in wine connoisseurship.
A business man on his way to New York, reviews stockmarket trends.
An earthquake wakes a couple in the middle of the night. The Intelligent Encyclopedia, connected to an online service informs them of the severity of the earthquake and makes safety tips readily available.
A vintner in northern California wonders what would be involved in changing wine production to sake. On horseback he is asking the Intelligent Encyclopedia about soil and water requirements for growing rice.
A father reminisces with his son about ’60’s Rock and Roll, calling up footage from the Beatles appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show from the Intelligent Encyclopedia
A mother and her children looking into a tidepool in Laguna ask the Intelligent Encyclopedia about the plants and animals that they see. [Notice the antenna for cellular communication.]
A third grade class studies various aspects of space travel. The group on the right is running a simulation of a Mars landing while the students on the left are studying a design for a spacecraft.