As legendary physicist Nils Bohr once quipped: “prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future”. Any attempt to guess what the future might hold requires the careful balancing of an infinite number of variables and possibilities, from technological innovations to the people who might inhabit this imaginative fiction and their unique desires. Yet despite the nigh-impossibility of this task our efforts to predict the future have only intensified in recent decades, with the 20th century crammed full of optimistic marvels believed to be the wondrous inventions of tomorrow. Whilst many of these guesses were fantastical absurdities that have never, and perhaps will indeed never come true, others were immensely prescient and eerily accurate.
Here are 17 incredible historical advertisements that tried, with varying degrees of success, to courageously predict the future: