55 and Older members: What did you think the year 2000 would look like?

As a 20 year old I am a huge fan of science fiction and I have often read up on old magazines and read old articles on what futurist thought the year of 2000 would look like from the 1950s. I would like to know what did you guys think the year 2000s would look like when you were growing up? Did any of you guys ever had those kinds of thoughts?

I remember when 2001 came out in 1968, and sitting there calculating how old I would be in 2001, and hoping that space travel would be a reality by then. I was a huge SF fan in my teens.

All through our childhood (especially in the 50s), we were bombarded with predictions beginning with “By the year 2000 . . . .” The world’s population, national debt, birth rate, anything that could be quantified or qualified. I was sure that, in the late 90s, someone would put together a book, comparing all these predictions with reality.

But I was sure that by 2000, we’d have:

Flying cars.
Skyscrapers over a mile high.
A cure for cancer, and other diseases.
Settlements on the Moon and Mars.
Worldwide democracy.
No Third World.
No organized religion.
A woman president (not an African-American).
An end to racism.


Planet-wide nuclear annihilation.

I was and am a huge SF fan. I read Brian Aldiss, Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov and Heinlein and most of the others, and of course was glued to the TV screen in June 69 to see Armstrong, and Aldrin walk on the Moon.

It was reasonable to assume then that a colony of some sort would be established there and that it might be the launch pad to other planets. This was a frequent assumption in SF too although to take us to the starts they always had to invent some kind of stellar drive, worm hole, or something to allow it. I never expected that to happen in my lifetime.

On a more basic level, with the exception of flying cars (which I for one never thought practical - think of the accidents) a lot of other stuff actually happened. Computers are the obvious example, although I cannot recall anyone predicting a computer in every living room connected to every other computer. Asimov did have Braniac though, but it was some vast mainframe with millions of dumb terminals.

Mobile (cell) phones were certainly predicted, with wrist communicators around in the 60’s, although never on the scale that they have become.

Cars in the UK were a lot smaller than the USA and I assumed that they would get faster and safer, which is pretty much what happened. All that 1950’s escapist comic book stuff was too far out for me.

A lot of SF also predicted apocalypse and fortunately they got that wrong. They also predicted overpopulation and starvation (Soylent Green anyone?) and thankfully we seem to have avoided that too. World government was another popular background (Star Trek) theme and that never happened either.

Most of the more modern SF I read seems to tend towards fantasy rather than science, but a totally fictional world does give an author a lot more scope. I have all of Terry Pratchett’s books in hardback.

I was born in the mid 50’s, and when I was in elementary school the year 2000 was still over 35 years away. While this was prior to Apollo 11, the US space program was ramping up quickly, and I was pretty sure that space travel, at least to and from the Moon, would be fairly common place by the year 2000 and that anyone who wanted to go into space would probably have a good chance of getting there.

Then there’s the flying cars. While most people make fun of this idea, I didn’t see any reason why we couldn’t have flying cars if we could put men into space. I realize now, of course, that it wouldn’t be very practical, but as a kid I thought for sure we would have flying cars by the year 2000.

The jet pack was also something that I thought we would all be using by then, although not the kind we have today but with some kind of to-be-discovered anti-gravity technology…

The Jetsons

I was just becomming aware of comutrs when I was in high school. I figured tey would be the way of the future but did not imagine all the games and things we do with that technology today. I did think we would be flying around in little two man air crafts that we could land in out yard. I thought wars would become a thing of the past. I had most everything figured wrong.

I would guess people growing up in that era were comparable to the people today in how much time they spend predicting the future–almost none.

I was wondering how close to the book and movie 2001 would be. The answer, not much. It seemed like after the Soviet Union quit being a threat in outer space the powers that be turned their attention elsewhere.

Just turning 55 later this year so I hope I am not cheating by playing.

I was a fan of Future Shock at the time and they got quite a bit right.

Even what some of what they got wrong was somewhat right. No clothes are not one use paper then throw away but not so far off.

I did expect more underwater cities. And a moon colony.

Moved from General Questions to IMHO, where you can get everyone’s opinions.


I certainly thought we’d have a base on the moon by now, especially since we got there.

On Earth, I thought religion would be fading out.

No flying cars. I assumed the logistics made them impossible.

Pan Am has scheduled flights.

Had. Pan Am ceased operations in 1991.

I’m 55 and honestly there’s no “big” thing I’ve been surprised by. I’m always been kind of tech oriented and it all seemed kind of incremental to me. I’m not that optimistic by nature so things not happening that sholda, woulda, coulda is nota surprise. I think we would all be surprised by how similar the year 2100 will be to today in many respects.

Some changes I predict
Cars will be predominantly electric powered

Whether by glasses or implants or similar connectivity tech will be wearable

The web/net/tubes/whatever will have free wireless coverage over 90% of inhabited areas

AI will be smart enough to take over many human mediated systems

Cloning humans will be happening somewhere even if not in the US

Artificial wombs will be a reality

Some recently extinct animals will be brought back

Women will still confuse and frustrate men

I expected massive automation - never thought of anything like the web would be available to anyone with a few hundred dollars. I could see computers getting smaller - but pocket sized? No Way!

I did see massive unemployment from automation - my father had the job of reading the requirements for large, one-off, electric motors and then specifying the components to be used (frame, windings, shaft, seals, etc). Now, the customer and the software he uses does that when he orders the motor.
It wasn’t hard to see that job being automated.

I once saw a competition by GM to encourage high-schoolers to design cars. I measured the family car (1965 Olds) and was flabbergasted that the thing was as large as a living room. A few quick sketches made me think that maybe we could save a bunch of steel.

Now those cars are used as homes. Kinda fits.

But the only thing I thought about 2000 was how old I’d be - and had a huge problem wrapping my mind around that number.
Nothing special about “2000” per se.

I really did expect a Lunar Base and “Hal” variety Artificial Intelligence.

I never believed in flying cars, because I know how bad most people are at driving in only two dimensions. Give 'em three, and you’d have mid-air crashes as often (at least!) as we have freeway crashes now.

I did predict the fall of the Soviet Union and rising sea levels, both back in '87. Not a very miraculous set of Delphic prophecies… I also predicted that, with the USSR gone, people would desperately seek for a new enemy to wage Cold War against, and that Islam would be chosen. As bad as anti-Islam sentiment in the U.S. is, I’m happy to have been wrong, as I predicted it would be far worse.

I never bought into the big dystopias. 1984, or Mad Max, or the like. But Ronald Reagan cured me of any hope for a utopia; he proved that evil, on a vast scale, can gain significant power even in a free democracy.

I also watched the Union of Concerned Scientists’ “Doomsday Clock” with morbid fascination. There were times, as when Israel invaded Lebanon in '82, that I thought that nuclear war was horribly likely. Another thing to be happy to be wrong about!

I thought we’d have colonies on the moon and Mars. I expected a world govt. Individual flying harnesses.

I thought that by the early 21st century the USA would have:

  • The majority of cars powered by something other than petroleum products
  • Supersonic air travel would be common
  • An economy something like Scandinavia’s, with programs and policies that
    would help working class people.
  • A small colony on the moon

It did not occur to me that we would have something like the internet and
that I would be using it to share my thoughts with people all over the world.

No flying cars.

Screwed again!!