Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Please move to the rear of the sphere."

An email from a colleague regarding "future predictions from the past" sent me down memory lane.

One of the seminal moments of my young life occurred in 1962 at the Seattle Worlds Fair. The "bubblelator" was a large elevator in the form of a globe that was the start of a "visit to the future" in the 21st Century Pavilion. As you entered the bubbletor, an operator dressed in a futuristic uniform (it would have worked well on Star Trek), said in a droning voice, "Please move to the rear of the sphere".

A lot of predictions were made during that visit to the pavilion. The one that has stuck with me the longest was that in the future, the job of "leisure time specialist" would be very important as automation would lead to a 24 hour work week and more free time for everyone.

I'm a bit older now and still waiting for that 24 hour work week to become reality. However, many other technologies forecast in Seattle back in 1962 have been realized including the moon landings, home computers, push button phones and digital video.

Among other exhibitors in the pavilion, the American Library Association offered a glimpse of the future of libraries including a UNIVAC computer capable of retrieving quotations from great thinkers (link).

The Bubleator photo is from the Washington State History Link.

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