Throwback Thursday: It Was 50 Years Ago Today…


The title of this blog isn’t a clever attempt to rewrite “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” even though it has been 50 years since the Beatles craze swept America. I’m taking us back to another moment in that landmark year: the 1964 World’s Fair.

Picture approximately 51 million visitors. Children squeal with delight on rides. Fairgoers devour sweet treats. Scientists predict (and showcase) revolutionary advances in technology.

Want to know which predictions came through and which didn’t quite pan out? Here’s an excerpt (read full story from NPR):

What they had right:

  • Picturephone: Bell System introduced this innovation, which allowed people to see whom they were calling. It didn’t go over well at the time, but it’s a concept that’s an everyday part of our lives now in apps such as Skype and Facetime.
  • Robotics: Walt Disney’s “It’s a Small World” exhibit introduced robotic animation in which characters sing, speak and make lifelike gestures such as smiles and blinks. It’s still in use in theme parks and movies today.
  • Ford Mustang: The two-seater sports car with its long hood and short rear deck was officially unveiled at the World’s Fair and immediately became popular. It has remained in production ever since.

What they had wrong:

  • Colonies on the moon, underwater and in Antarctica: The “Futurama 2” ride from General Motors featured images of people living in places where they clearly, uh, don’t.
  • Jet packs: There were demonstrations of jet pack power at the fair, with men wearing them and zooming around the grounds. Sadly, they remain a mode of transport found mainly in science fiction.

Experience this exciting event through the eyes of spectators in photos they submitted to NBC News.

I can’t imagine what’s in store for the next 50 years, but I can say one thing: I am not moving to the moon or Antarctica to join a colony.

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