Back to the Future Day is October 21st 2015. In the Hollywood film “Back to the Future II” (1989), Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) come to this day in a time machine. That is today! The film is being shown tonight at several cinemas in New York at 7.00pm.
#BackToTheFuture is now trending on Twitter. In the film there was no Twitter in 2015 or anything like it, even if they did have pizza hydrators.
Stuff they got right:
- The Chicago Cubs still had not won a World Series by 2014.
- large, flat-screen televisions.
- Miami has a national baseball team (though in our time it is called the Marlins, not the Gators).
- wearable technologies – though not (yet) boom boxes.
- 3-D movies.
- video telephone calls.
- Pepsi, Pizza Hut and USA Today are still in business.
- people read printed newspapers. That probably did not seem like a prediction to the film-makers, but since in our time that can no longer be taken for granted, it is a prediction.
- a cola drink with vitamins. We know it as Diet Coke Plus. In the film it is called Pepsi Perfect.
- Cafe 80’s.
- computer voice recognition, but with mistakes. Dead on.
- bionic arms.
- animated billboards.
Now possible, though not (yet) common:
- thumbprints to open doors and pay for things.
- using your television as a video telephone.
- no-hands video games.
- public pay phones with touch screens.
- digital binoculars.
- voice-activated lights.
Not way off:
- a female president
- talking on the telephone using special glasses.
- wearing clothes inside out as a youth fashion.
- pizza hydrators.
- time machines.
- flying cars.
- levitating signs.
- shoes that tie themselves.
- self-adjusting, self-drying jackets.
- The Chicago Cubs win the World Series.
- Princess Diana is Queen.
- Pepsi Perfect – except as an overpriced tie-in that is not like the
one in the film.
- public pay phones are still common.
- people still commonly wear wristwatches.
- slamball is more important than baseball.
- Max Spielberg becomes a film director.
- the film “Jaws 19”. They did not even get up to Jaws 5.
- people having more than one fax machine in their home.
- prices written as 7$ instead of $7.
- mailboxes that can fax.
- USA Today has 3 billion readers.
- lawyers abolished.
Director Robert Zemeckis and writer Bob Gale are the ones who came up with this future. Since the film was a comedy, some stuff was put in just for laughs, like the Cubs winning the Series. And some of it they thought was unlikely by 2015, but was too cool to leave out, like flying cars and drones. Having seen the future shown in other films, they knew that whatever they came up with would be strangely off.
By far the biggest technological thing missing from their future is the Internet, mobile phones and the marriage of the two. In 1989, both the Internet and mobile phones were already in operation, though not yet common.
Doc Brown gets the last word:
“No one should know too much about their future.”
– Abagond, 2015.
Update (November 3rd 2016): The Chicago Cubs at long last win the World Series for the first time since 1908. “Back to the Future II” (1989) was just a year off.
- Twitter: #BackToTheFuture
- Futurepedia: 2015
- How daily life has changed, 1984-2014
- The future that kind of never was – how science fiction and futurists saw our time
- The future that was – the predictions that 1982 should have made about 2012.
- My past predictions for the future – my own predictions
- Stand on Zanzibar – another fictional future I lived to see: May 3rd 2010
- Blade Runner – a far darker future set in November 2019