Skip

Predictions for Publishing, from Thomas Edison and some Minds of Today
January 27, 2011 1:13 PM   Subscribe

On June 23, 1911, The Miami Metropolis published predictions about the year 2011 from Thomas Edison, including his visions of transmuting metals, a world of light-weight steel products, and writings printed on leaves of nickel that would be "so light to hold that the reader can enjoy a small library in a single volume." In Edison's future of today, five authors and an editor/publisher envision the world of publishing in the year 2021. Spoiler: nickel is not mentioned once.

Bonus: you can leaf through digital copies of various editions of The (Daily/Weekly) Miami Metropolis, though 1911 doesn't seem to be represented in any of these archives.
posted by filthy light thief (15 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
OMG HE FORESAW THE KINDLE
posted by AugieAugustus at 1:16 PM on January 27, 2011


Replace 'steel' with 'plastic' and it almost works.
posted by empath at 1:23 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The house of the next century will be furnished from basement to attic with steel, at a sixth of the present cost -- of steel so light that it will be as easy to move a sideboard as it is today to lift a drawing room chair. The baby of the twenty-first century will be rocked in a steel cradle; his father will sit in a steel chair at a steel dining table, and his mother's boudoir will be sumptuously equipped with steel furnishings, converted by cunning varnishes to the semblance of rosewood, or mahogany, or any other wood her ladyship fancies.

Oh, wow.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:33 PM on January 27, 2011


Thomas Edison: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
The Future: Yes, sir.
Thomas Edison: Are you listening?
The Future: Yes, I am.
Thomas Edison: Steel.
The Future: Just how do you mean that, sir?
Thomas Edison: OK, two words: steel and nickel.

Apparently Edison's 1911 visions were published in a variety of magazines and newspapers, as he had similar predictions in Cosmopolitan in 1911 (via Technologizer):
Nickel will absorb printer’s ink. A sheet of nickel one twenty-thousandth of an inch thick is cheaper, tougher, and more flexible than an ordinary sheet of book-paper. A nickel book, two inches thick, would contain 40,000 pages. Such a book would weigh only a pound. I can make a pound of nickel sheets for a dollar and a quarter.
And book covers made of steel! Interesting that librarians of the day were worried that cheap books wouldn't last 100 years, and now the world can read such out-of-copyright books anywhere by way of Project Gutenberg, Archive.org and Google Books.

I bet you'd get some nasty paper cuts from those "one twenty-thousandth of an inch thick" nickel pages.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:11 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent nickel.
posted by not_on_display at 2:16 PM on January 27, 2011


Wait a minute, so Edison was forecasting one hundred years into the future and now we can only make forecasts ten years into the future?
posted by madcaptenor at 2:53 PM on January 27, 2011


"The world's concert halls will echo with sounds from electrified instruments louder than than the roar of a thousand locomotives, played by men known as Nickelback."
posted by davebush at 2:58 PM on January 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


"We are already on the verge of discovering the secret of transmuting metals, which are all substantially the same in matter, though combined in different proportions."

Before long it will be an easy matter to convert a truck load of iron bars into as many bars of virgin gold."


Erm, yeah. (I've gotta wonder, though, if such a discovery were ever made by government scientists, how fast would it be suppressed to preserve market stability?)
posted by Marla Singer at 3:02 PM on January 27, 2011


madcaptenor: Edison was forecasting one hundred years into the future and now we can only make forecasts ten years into the future?

I think visions of the future have gotten shorter, because 1) we've seen how past attempts at precognition of the far-future have fared, and 2) the future is approaching a lot faster than it used to. I swear, singularity is just around the corner.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:09 PM on January 27, 2011


An elephant-electrocuting machine in every house!
posted by theodolite at 3:49 PM on January 27, 2011


Erm, yeah. (I've gotta wonder, though, if such a discovery were ever made by government scientists, how fast would it be suppressed to preserve market stability?)

We actually can do that. Kind of.
posted by empath at 3:55 PM on January 27, 2011


Steel might have come true except some fucker invented plastic first. (think 1950s-- they were halfway to his predictions at that point)
posted by rubah at 6:12 PM on January 27, 2011


he had similar predictions in Cosmopolitan in 1911

He went on to say that nickel was also the secret to pleasing your man.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:04 AM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


That paleofuture blog is a fucking godsend. I thought I might actually do some work today, but you saved me. Thanks.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:15 AM on January 28, 2011


I don't understand why he thought transmuting was just around the corner. I guess nuclear science was just starting then, so maybe they didn't realize what kind of energies were involved.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 8:21 AM on January 28, 2011


« Older The Metamorphosis   |   Run for your Life Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post