TECH

Arthur C. Clarke Accurately Predicted The Rise Of Google, Skype, E-mail -- In 1976

02/06/2015 12:37 pm ET | Updated Feb 06, 2015

Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke shared his thoughts about the Internet and e-mail, search engines and smartwatches, all in one interview.

It was some 40 years ago.

The year was 1976, and Clarke sat down to chat about his vision for the future at a conference on futurism and technology organized by AT&T and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Internet as we know it was years away, home computers were extremely rudimentary, and the development of handheld cellphone technology was still very much in its nascent stages. Yet, Clarke, with total confidence, was somehow able to accurately predict the rise of such technological advances like the iPhone, Skype and Google.

Not everything Clarke prophesied has come to pass -- for instance, said that people of the future would only travel for pleasure and not for business. But a good many of his visions were extraordinarily spot-on.

This week, AT&T released archival footage of Clarke’s 1976 interview. Here are some of his most prescient predictions:

  • Home computers and the Internet
    Christopher Robbins via Getty Images


    One day, Clarke said, people would have communication devices that would include a "high-definition TV screen and a typewriter keyboard." He said with this machine, people would be able to "exchange any type of information."
  • Google and other search engines
    Adam Berry/Getty Images


    Clarke predicted that the people of the future would be able to find any information they need through a machine.

    "You’ll tell the machine, I’m interested in such and such item of sports, politics and so forth, and the machine will hunt the main central library and bring all this to you," he said.
  • E-mail
    Getty Images


    People of the future would be able to use machines to "send messages to your friends, which they can read [whenever they want]," Clarke said.
  • Smartphones and Skype
    Cultura/Corey Jenkins via Getty Images


    "We’re going to get devices which will enable us to send much more information to our friends," said Clarke. "They’ll be able to see us, we’ll be able to see them. We’ll be able to exchange pictorial information, graphical information, data, books and so forth."
  • The decline of newspapers
    Anatoliy Babiy via Getty Images


    "The newspaper is on the way out," Clarke said. "We’re not going to ship all this tons and tons of paper around when all we need is information."
  • Smartwatches
    Chesnot/Getty Images


    "The wristwatch telephone will be technologically feasible very soon. The telephone will no longer be fixed in one place. It’ll be completely mobile," Clarke predicted.

    (In the image above, the Apple Watch is displayed on September 30, 2014 in Paris, France.)
  • The disadvantages of being connected all the time
    Andrew Rich via Getty Images


    In the future, Clarke said that people will be so well-connected that anyone would be able to contact you "at anytime" they like, which he noted would come with both advantages and disadvantages. "Of course you could switch off the calling signal, but then you might have to explain later why it was switched off," he mused.

H/T Reddit

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