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Observations

Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American

Internet Shopping, as Conceived in 1961: Plenty of Rocket Deliveries Thursday Morning [Video]

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I know, you’re disappointed that we don’t have the flying cars and moving sidewalks as promised in those old film reels from the 1950s and 60s that you may have seen in school. But this clip, from the AT&T Archives and History Center, does do a great job predicting how we shop in the digital realm today. The daily rocket deliveries for pâté a la bergère are not here, of course, but airplanes and cold packs have proved to be a pretty good substitute.

The film’s prediction for the future drew from recent developments by AT&T: in 1958, it had invented the modem (110 bits per second) and committed $2.5 billion in 1960 (about $20 billion in today’s dollars) to develop satellite communication. As amusing (and nostalgic) such films may be to contemporary eyes, they undoubtedly captured many imaginations that would later help lay the foundations of modern life.

You can watch the full 15-minute video here.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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