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Google as predicted in 1964

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

Monday, June 25, 2007
12 years ago4,934 views

I found a 1964 article predicting an "answer machine" of the future, and compared it to what Google does today. It's pretty-much spot-on, so I wrote it up with pics at Web Owls:

web-owls.com/2007/06/25/google ...

Mrrix32 [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

1964? They only had to wait 34 years for their answer machine to be born! Well 42 for the video as well.

James Xuan [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

nice find!

Zach [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Looks like they also predicted the flat screen TV?

Max [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

Don't know, the fonts seem to be too modern

yusy [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Max asked a veeeeeery goooooood question.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

As far as I can tell, the fonts are Helvetica (designed in 1957), Baskerville (designed in 1757 and popular in the 1960s), and Courier (designed in 1956).

Rue [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

Dude, why does this predict Google? Why doesn't it predict Altavista or Infoseek (1990s)? Or the SMART system (1970s)? Or Vannevar Bush's Memex (1945)? (Read page 4 of this article from 1945, and you'll be reminded of Google storing personal search histories for the purpose of personization: http :// www.theatlantic.com/doc/194507/bush

A lot of these ideas from this 1964 article were invented decades prior to 1964.

Rue [PersonRank 1]

12 years ago #

See also this good article:

http :// www.ifla.org/VI/5/op/udtop5/udtop5.htm

Mysterius [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

[put at-character here]Rue: The prediction specifically focused on widespread usage of such information retrieval systems by average home users, even children. Your point that earlier search engines should technically count before Google (though I'd like to know when internet access became truly "widespread", whatever the definition for that is), but the general idea remains the same (search engines fulfill the prediction).

Interesting that it also predicted flat-panels. :)

Max [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

The smoothing of the fonts, whatever they are seems to me too modern.

Johnny [PersonRank 0]

12 years ago #

I'd bet 80:20 that it's a hoax – a nice one though :)

John Honeck [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

I blogged about this the other day, oh not the 1964 answer machine, but amazingly how many people ask Google questions as seen in the server logs.

Like:

"How can I do....", "What is the way to...", "Where can I buy ..." etc.

People want the answer machine, but they killed Jeeves a while back. I can't remember if the referral I got from Ask was in the form of a question. :)

photoactive [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

Looks like we're just ahead of the 1964 prediction. Type "who invented the phonograph" into Google now and you get – in the first result – not only that it was Edison, but also the date, October 1877.

In October of 1877 Edison invented the phonograph
In October of 1877 Edison invented the phonograph – several months later in 1878 he made his first production model and this is it! ...

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

12 years ago #

> The smoothing of the fonts, whatever
> they are seems to me too modern.

Um, am I missing something here? The photos are from a book. Books are printed, and printed fonts are naturally smooth (due to the cut of the type, and the surface tension of the ink).

Pixellated fonts come with display terminals, video screens, dot-based printers, etc.

> Interesting that it also predicted flat-panels

Even in the 60s, flat-panel TV was accepted as the "holy grail" of TV technology. I didn't become practical until much later, but the idea was certainly not new.

> Dude, why does this predict Google?

Sure, it could be said to predict Memex and other ideas. But early search engines such as AltaVista didn't bring together text, images, sounds and videos.

But yeah, "Google" here is just a metaphor for "contemporary search engines".

> A lot of these ideas from this 1964 article were invented
> decades prior to 1964.

For sure. I'm sure some people would have contemplated these ideas even in the 1800s or before.

But, just as Google "brings together" the implementation of these things into a nice usable form in 2007, I feel that the 1964 article "brings together" the predictions into a nice usable form.

PS: I didn't expect the article to make the front page of Digg, and it's being served from my DSL-connected home PC, so it's likely to be inaccessible until tomorrow or so. Sorry!

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