How People Imagined Future: Retro Futuristic Postcards and Photos from the 19th and Early 20th Century

Throughout history, people have been fascinated with imagining the future and the technological advancements it may bring. Humans have always been curious about the future, and the ability to imagine what it might be like is a fundamental aspect of our nature. We are so fascinated by the future and the possibilities it holds for several reasons. One reason is that the future is unknown and unpredictable. Imagining different scenarios and outcomes prepares us for potential challenges and opportunities. It also allows us to explore and consider different possibilities, giving us a sense of control and agency over our own lives. Another reason is that the future represents progress and change. The rapid advancements in technology and science during the 19th and 20th centuries, for example, led to a sense of excitement and optimism about what the future might hold. Imagining new technologies, such as flying machines and rocket ships, allowed people to envision a more advanced and technologically advanced future.

This has been especially true in the 19th and 20th centuries, as rapid industrialization and scientific discoveries led to rapid technological advancements. This is reflected in the many postcards and photos from this period that depict various futuristic devices and technologies.

One example from the 19th century is the “flying machine,” which was a popular subject in illustrations and postcards of the time. These flying machines were often depicted as significant, ornate contraptions with wings and propellers and were imagined to be powered by steam or other mechanical means. The idea of human flight was still in its infancy, and these illustrations were more fanciful than realistic.

Another popular subject in postcards and photos of the time was the “automobile of the future.” These illustrations often depicted sleek, futuristic cars that were imagined to be powered by electricity or other advanced forms of propulsion. They often featured aerodynamic designs and other advanced features that were not yet possible with the technology of the time.

In the 20th century, the imagination of people shifted to space travel. Illustrations and postcards of the time often depicted rocket ships, spacesuits, and other futuristic devices related to space exploration. These illustrations often showed individuals traveling to the moon or even other planets, a feat that was not yet possible with the technology of the time.

These postcards and photos from the 19th and 20th centuries provide a fascinating glimpse into how people imagined the future during this period. They reflect the hopes and dreams of the people of the time, as well as the technological advancements that were possible with the era’s technology.

#3 A live audiovisual broadcast of a theatre performance

#11 Machine that automatically convert textbooks into audio.

#79 The food delivery of the future as imagined in 1940s.

#80 Newspaper via television. “Some day you may be able to receive the front page of your morning newspaper this way.

#84 James Bond receives a “text” via his smartwatch in the Spy Who Loved Me. 1977.

#85 1970s futuristic concept for jetliner air travel.

#86 The Japanese vision of the future classroom. The odd part is that included small robots to rap students on the head when misbehaving, 1969.

#88 Artoo-Deco, an art deco droid from author/maker Kurt Zimmerman.

#90 Fashions of 1950, as predicted on the cover of Life Magazine in 1914.

#91 1981 vision of suburbia after there’s no more room left for suburbs.

#93 Futuristic road trip with the Family created by Bruce Mccall.

#94 Car of the future imagined and created by Ian Roussel.

#98 The 2020 Olympics… not 100% accurate. From “The Usborne Book of the Future: A Trip in Time to the Year 2000 and Beyond”, 1979.

#101 This was an actual space suit Grumman Aircraft Corp tried to sell to NASA in 1962.

#103 Nuke-proof underground city below Manhattan, 1969.

#107 Vacations on the Moon, (unknown year and creator).

#109 An express ocean liner in the year 2000, as imagined in 1931.

#110 Strolling on the water. More at “Futuristic postcards: Life in the year 2000, 1900“.

#113 An artist’s depiction of the future, painted in 1930.

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Written by Benjamin Grayson

Former Bouquet seller now making a go with blogging and graphic designing. I love creating & composing history articles and lists.

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