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“We try and illustrate a “universe-next-door” where the new product is the only novelty. Where there is still tea, and the traffic is still miserable.”
December 6, 2011 5:24 PM   Subscribe

Future Drama is a tumblr devoted to that particular kind of futurism - corporate prediction demos of how their products will change the world - See The Mother Of All Demos from 1968 introducing the mouse, video conferencing, teleconferencing, hypertext, word processing - Apple in 1987 - Philco-Ford The Future Now!
posted by The Whelk (23 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
In fairness, "The Mother of All Demos" wasn't a corporate prediction of how a product will change the world.

But it did change the world.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:51 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The "Mother of all Demos" didn't predict anything. It just demonstrated, almost casually, actual working real-world tools that could be used, immediately, to be massively more productive.

The Mother of All Demos wasn't a concept; it wasn't a hypothetical future product; it was a demonstration of a real working system, and it remains a powerful symbol of why, instead of rambling on about how great the future will be thanks to MegaCorp, Inc, maybe you should go create something awesome.
posted by Tomorrowful at 5:57 PM on December 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


Missing: Monsanto's House of the Future at DisneyLand (Wiki).

Sponsored by Monsanto!
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:04 PM on December 6, 2011


I meant to say; "One word: plastics!"
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:07 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


"The Mother Of All Demos" was by far the best video on the blog and I wanted to highlight it even if it didn't really fit the mission statement, cause it is awesome.
posted by The Whelk at 6:18 PM on December 6, 2011


I've never heard of Paul Otlet before. Down the rabbit hole I go!
posted by unliteral at 6:21 PM on December 6, 2011


Holy shit @ mother of all demos
posted by unSane at 6:34 PM on December 6, 2011


That Apple demo is Siri
posted by mattoxic at 6:35 PM on December 6, 2011


"The Mother Of All Demos" was by far the best video on the blog and I wanted to highlight it even if it didn't really fit the mission statement, cause it is awesome.

Well, then, that's also a previously.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:35 PM on December 6, 2011


Also missing, and a true classic: The Futurama exhibit at the 1939 World's Fair. Sponsored by General Motors, this exhibit imagined a near future where people would live in suburbs and drive their cars to work and shop and play. Some (silent, of course) video.)

This one really did have an impact on its future.

Also, Futurama 2, at the 1964 World's Fair, which showed the delightful inspiration of Robert Moses to have huge highways cut through all the major cities.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:47 PM on December 6, 2011


Every time I see today's technology featured further back than I expected, it's like when archaeologists have unearthed batteries in Mayan temples. It's kind of eerie.
posted by xingcat at 7:25 PM on December 6, 2011


I like how in the apple one, the guy immediately deletes the email from his mom.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:17 PM on December 6, 2011


So I'm betting some of you are wondering what the big deal is with this "Mother of all Demos" and clicked it, and saw it's this really long thing and it's black and white and really fuzzy and kind of slow and -

Okay. So here's the deal.

This guy is demonstrating, very calmly and carefully, a bunch of then-experimental tools that were all, at the time, staggeringly futuristic and amazing, even to his highly technical audience. This is the very rough equivalent of going back to, say, the early 90s with a fully functional cell-network-connected smartphone. "Yes, it's more powerful than the thing on your desk, and it's a purely touch interface, and it runs for hours and hours, and it has an always-on wireless connection to the entire internet which, incidentally, is now so expansive that it's basically the only purpose computers have. Also it plays Angry Birds." Except, of course, there was no time travel; this was the result of a bunch of really smart people working furiously toward a vision of incredibly enhanced human productivity, and achieving it and starting revolutions in a dozen areas of computing all at once.

In retrospect it's nothing special. But as a piece of history - well, in context, it's arguably among the most important demonstrations of a system ever.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:20 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


In retrospect it's nothing special. But as a piece of history - well, in context, it's arguably among the most important demonstrations of a system ever.

Englebart was working at the Stanford Research Institute at the Augmentation Research Center. The purpose of the Center was to accelerate human intelligence. It wasn't sponsored by a corporation. It didn't produce a product. It was primarily driven by the idea that computers could dramatically alter the ability of human minds to interact with the world, and they wanted ways to make that happen. They were doing this in 1968. And they prototyped much of what later came to pass.

I still think it was something special.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:32 PM on December 6, 2011


I still think it was something special.

Sorry, I meant "what Englebart is demonstrating, to a modern eye, is not terribly remarkable." A mouse? Yawn. Hypertext? Boring. Videoconferencing? Been there done that, on my iPhone no less. As opposed to some other retrofuturistic visions that include things we still don't have, and may still want, like personal rocketships or whatever.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:02 PM on December 6, 2011


what Englebart is demonstrating, to a modern eye, is not terribly remarkable

I forget the quote exactly, I think it was due to Arthur C. Clarke, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from something that will be available in Apple Stores next month."
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:11 PM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


PUSH BUTTON PHONING!
posted by ShutterBun at 12:08 AM on December 7, 2011


in context, it's arguably among the most important demonstrations of a system ever.
posted by Tomorrowful


Epon-you-already-know.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:09 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Still waiting for my hover car, anytime now. *taps foot*
posted by arcticseal at 12:28 AM on December 7, 2011


That Apple demo is Siri

I realize now that you meant that the Knowledge Navigator demo turned out to be Siri - - but at first I thought you meant that the current Siri is a demo of the future 30 years from now, which I found even more intriguing.
posted by fairmettle at 2:45 AM on December 7, 2011


I'm sending this comment as a fax from the beach.
posted by gimonca at 7:00 AM on December 7, 2011


I'm sending this comment as a fax from the beach.

Holy shit, I remember those commerials, and the budding 9-year-old cynic in me though "maybe super rich people will get to do that, but I probably won't". I'm pretty glad I was wrong.
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:38 AM on December 7, 2011


All I can think of is this.

"Just because it's futuristic doesn't mean it's practical."
posted by charred husk at 9:11 AM on December 7, 2011


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