Predictions made at the start of the new millennium were not so far off the reality of life today. But rewind that 50 years, and you’re faced with a completely different picture.
So what happened to the hover cars and hypersonic jets that were dreamt up?
In the early 19th and 20th centuries technological developments were advancing so quickly that there seemed no limit to how fast or how far we could travel. Inventors imagined flying cars, rocket propelled bicycles and monorails running above houses. We were in a hurry to get places faster and to go further than we’d ever been. The reality is quite different but only in the form the travel takes. We’re still looking for ultra fast speed; we’re just looking elsewhere for it. The new supersonic airplane from Hypermach is due to be twice as fast as Concorde (which went out of use in 2003 due to the expense and high levels of pollution) and used as a business jet with a top speed flying at 2664 mph at a height of 62000 ft, to allow passengers to observe the curvature of the earth.
In the mid-20th century when the nuclear age dawned, there was a feeling of limitless power at humanities disposal and there were dreams of railways under the sea and travel from New York to Paris taking only 90 minutes. The reality is that these ideas didn’t happen, whether that was because they were over-hyped, under-funded or that they weren’t commercially viable.
Some concepts did work as prototypes and an example of this is George Bennie’s Railplane. The Railplane was a suspended carriage with propellers. But due to lack of commercial backing, Bennie went bust in 1937.
Today, we may not have flying cars, but we are on the cusp of having fully autonomous vehicles. We might not have interplanetary travel, but as previously mentioned, we may be getting a supersonic passenger airplane in the next decade or so. So what, if we don't have hover cars, Lexus have announced their new development, the hoverboard and all I can say is...never say never.
The transport dreams of the 50's we're a little ambitious and in some cases, completely impossible. Although we've not got the products that were predicted, we have advanced in other ways. In 50 years, we'll look back and compare to the predictions of today, chances are, we'll have been a bit wrong too.