back to top

24 Visions Of The Future That Never Came To Pass

Come on, 21st century. Where are the hover cars, space dogs and robot butlers we were promised? Photos via Retronaut.

Posted on

5. We'd all drive cars shaped like teardrops.

This streamlined vehicle was designed by Norman Bel Geddes in 1933. Despite its irresistible looks, the Teardrop Car never went in to production because, historians say, "it offered no performance improvement over the normal-bodied model".

6. That's if we weren't already zooming around in hover cars.

This vehicle really existed. It was called Glideair and was designed by Ford in 1961. They described it as "a wheel-less vehicle that rides on a thin film of air a fraction of an inch above the road." It never got beyond the prototype stage, though, as it simply wasn't efficient.


13. We'd have no need for phone books, because all the information would be stored on our watches.

This is from 1984. What they failed to predict was that a) wristwatches would be largely replaced in people's lived by mobile phones, and b) telephone directories would be made almost obsolete by the internet.


17. Including trains!

This is the Bennie Railplane, which had a projected cruising speed of 120 miles per hour. In 1929-30 a test track about a quarter of a mile in length was built on the outskirts of Glasgow, but no investors were forthcoming.


20. Work would be a breeze, since we'd all communicate by "radio newspaper".

A 1939 invention. The idea was that a radio transmission would transfer the newspaper to the device in your home, which would then print it out on a nine-foot roll of paper, which could then be cut or folded. It didn't catch on.

22. Stroll through the door of his perfectly spherical house.

This came from the brain of French architect Claude-Nicolas Ledoux towards the end of the 19th century. It's interesting that he imagined the future as being rural, not urban.

Visit Retronaut for more wonderful old photos like this.