In 1900, John Elfreth Watkins made a number of predictions about what the world would be like in 2000. A piece entitled What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years with 28 of them was published in the Christmas issue of the Ladies’ Home Journal.
I found a reference to his seminal article in Thomas Lombardo’s Contemporary Futurist Thought: Science Fiction, Future Studies, and Theories and Visions of the Future in the Last Century. Watkins was not a science-fiction author or a particularly known futurist. He was apparentñy a Civil Engineer but details about his life are mixed up between John Elfreth Watkins Senior and Junior – father and son. (This seems to be the case while I am writing this at Wikipedia).
10 years ago, Watkins came back to life when the Saturday Evening Post’s history editor published a feature praising Watkins’ accuracy. Many other journals republished or ellaborated emphasizing Watkins’ hits and misses.
Re-reading the article today, what I can see is that some of this predictions are still timely and more necessary than ever. After a not particularly hot summer in Spain, I am thinking of prediction #5: No Mosquitoes nor Flies. Insects screens will be unnecessary. But it is also probably the case with his perhaps most debated and less understood prediction #3: There will be No C, X, or Q in our every-day alphabet, where I guess that he was actually envisioning that writing might eventually disappear…
Spelling by sound will have been adopted, first by the newspapers. English will be a language of condensed words expression condensed ideas and will be more extensively spoken than any other. Russian will rank second.
Featured Image: December 1900 Christmas Cover for The Ladies Home Journal.