Watch Arthur C. Clarke predict the internet and the iPads decades before they were invented

It's no secret that 2001: A Space Odyssey author Arthur C. Clarke was an avid futurist, but it's still absolutely amazing to see just how prescient the writer was. In this 1974 clip from Australian television, the science fiction visionary describes computerized life in the year 2001 with eerie accuracy. And of course, this was certainly not the first on-point prediction Clarke would ever make.


Clarke would also depict tablet technology to a tee in 2001. In this passage from the 1968, Dr. Heywood Floyd checks the worlds' newspapers using his turbocharged Newspad. Here's an accompanying scene from the Stanley Kubrick film that shows the Newspad in action. (Interestingly enough, Samsung would cite this particular scene in 2011 as proof that their Galaxy tablet computer did not violate Apple's iPad design patent.)

When [he] had tired of official reports, memoranda and minutes, he would plug his foolscap-sized Newspad into the ship's information circuit and scan the latest reports from Earth. One by one, he would conjure up the world's major electronic papers. He knew the codes of the more important ones by heart and had no need to consult the list on the back of his pad. Switching to the display's short-term memory, he would hold the front page while he searched the headlines and noted the items that interested him.

Each had its own two-digit reference. When he punched that, a postage-sized rectangle would expand till it neatly filled the screen and he could read it with comfort. When he finished he could flash back to the complete page and select a new subject for detailed examination.

Floyd sometimes wondered if the Newspad, and the fantastic technology behind it, was the last word in man's quest for perfect communications. Here he was, far out in space, speeding away from Earth at thousands of miles an hour, yet in a few milliseconds he could see the headlines of any newspaper he pleased. (That very word "newspaper," of course, was an anachronistic hangover into the age of electronics.) The text was updated automatically on every hour; even if one read only the English versions, one could spend an entire lifetime doing nothing but absorbing the ever-changing flow of information from the news satellites."

Finally, here's the author describing the city of the future on the 1964 BBC program Horizon. In this segment, he forecasts telecommuting and the 21st century global communications infrastructure. You can watch this full segment here.

[Via The Verge and Brain Pickings]


Corpore Metal

Well, we hard SF nerds all knew Clarke was badass.

He had an essay titled, "How I Lost a Billion Dollars in My Spare Time" where he talked about how he predicted commercial uses of geostationary orbit in 1945 and then pointed out that he wasn't really the first to have the idea (Oberth and one other sort of beat him to it.), which was part of the reason why he never patented it. And in City and the Stars he pretty much predicts VR, brain taping, video games, nanotechnology and black holes (But obviously that idea had been floating around since nearly Newton's day.).

Clarke seemed to live in a future and was just waiting patiently for the rest of us to catch up.