13 Predictions From 100 Years Ago That Came True

When you look back to the 80’s I am sure you will remember being told in the new millennium we would all be travelling with jetpacks, living on the moon and wearing some form of silver clothing which made us resemble the robots that were serving us. Most of this didn’t actually happen and was a huge over exaggeration along with the likes of the millennium bug! However, there were several predictions made in 1900 by John Watkins and these turned out to be more accurate than the ones made less than 20 years ago!

Let’s take a look at the ten 100 year old predictions that came true!

1. Photography

There is no doubt that photography has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years and John Watkins predicted this:

Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence, snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later…. photographs will reproduce all of nature’s colours.

Back in the 1900s photographs were of course black and white and took several hours to develop onto paper and if you were transporting the image from China to the western world this of course taken several further days! Watkins, although not specifying how this would happen correctly predicted that in 2000 we would have colour images that would travel across the world in a matter of hours.

2. Height

Did you know we have all grown taller? Watkins correctly predicted that the average American would be 1-2 inches taller. In 1900 the height of a typical American guy was 66-67 inches, in 2000 the height had increased to 69inches, exactly what Watkins predicted!

3. Mobile Phones

In 1900 even the wired telephone hadn’t even made an international call so  how did Watkins possibly know that we would be communicating via “wireless telephone circuits which span the world”?

4. Ready Meals and Takeaways

The great food revolution of the 70’s-90’s… of sorts! Watson was right again in predicting that in 2000 we would eat an increasing amount of our food which has been pre-prepared in a ready meal format. Pre-made in establishments like bakeries which would resemble the high street takeaways we frequent today.

5. Slow Growing Population

In the 1900’s population was growing fast, Watson expected it to slow down, and he was right. If the population continued to grow at the rate of the 1900’s in the year 2000 the US would have gone over one billion! It was in fact 280million in 2000, less than the predicted figures by Watkins but still in the right direction.

6. Hothouse Vegetables

Watkins predicted the growth in year round farming and using the likes of greenhouses as well as electrical heating and lighting in order to grow crops throughout the year, regardless of season. Most vegetables are now grown in greenhouses to increase production levels although there hasn’t been any success using electrical currents other technologies and methods have been developed.

7. Television

Television has been one of the factors that have revolutionised the way we communicate and receive news about the international world compared with the newspapers and telegraphs from the 1900’s. Watkins predicted that we would use screens connected electrically to deliver images captured from a camera from one side of the world to the other. This prediction appears to describe live television broadcasts and could even be used to cover the webcam and VoIP technology which is booming in popularity.

8. Tanks

Forts were the chosen forms of protection during battles in the 1900’s and Watkins predicted that this would change and instead we would have “Huge forts on wheels”. You could consider our army tanks to meet this prediction.

9. Bigger Fruit

“Strawberries as large as apples”, many of our varieties of fruit has grown in size due to various reasons so the concept is correct. Strawberries as large as apples maybe slightly over predicting though but if GM foods were more widely accepted perhaps this would also have been correct? We have the science to do it!

10. High Speed Trains

Watkins predicted the traditional trains speeding up to 150mph and exactly 100 years after his prediction the US seen the launch of Amtrak’s high speed railway track with speeds up to 150mph.

Watkins didn’t get all of his predictions right; here are a few of the most notable predictions that were wrong.

11. Walking 10 miles per day!

Although it would be great if we all walked 10 miles a day the western population as a whole has gone the other way with some not doing any walking at all, relying too much on cars and public transport which leads us to the next incorrect prediction!

12. No cars in the city!

There have been increased cycle routes in big cities and congestion charges placed on cities such as London to reduce the amount of cars in the city but this is nowhere near removing all cars completely from busy city centres! Imagine how easy it would be to travel around the city on a bus or bike and no cars on the road!

13. No mosquitos or flies

I am sure many of us wish this one were true, it is another wrong one with more insects than ever in some areas!

Alex Browne studied History at Kings College London and is an Assistant Editor at Made From History. He specializes in post-war history in the USA and Central America.