I love this kind of thing. It's fun to see what they got right, and what they got wrong.
Probably the most accurate stuff in the entire piece had to do with commerce and/or money. I wonder why? For instance:
Computers not only keep track of money, they make spending it easier. TV-telephone shopping is common. To shop, you simply press the numbered code of a giant shopping center. You press another combination to zero in on the department and the merchandise in which you are interested. When you see what you want, you press a number that signifies “buy,” and the household computer takes over, places the order, notifies the store of the home address and subtracts the purchase price from your bank balance. Much of the family shopping is done this way. Instead of being jostled by crowds, shoppers electronically browse through the merchandise of any number of stores.
(I especially like the term "TV-telephone" -- that's a pretty darn fine description of how a goodly number of people use the Internet.)
Computers also handle travel reservations, relay telephone messages, keep track of birthdays and anniversaries, compute taxes and even figure the monthly bills for electricity, water, telephone and other utilities.
(But what they didn't predict was that people would have computers capable of doing this stuff that you could fit in your pocket!)
The predictions about media and education were somewhat more marginal. They did pick up on the whole "instantaneous information availability" thing, however, they seemed fixated on things called "TV tapes" and seemed to expect that in 2008 we'd all still have to trek to the library to access media (though to be fair, this is certainly true for people who can't afford computers, and yes, such people do actually exist -- as do people who don't have flush toilets, just to keep everyone grounded here).
Also, while "distance learning" classes are actually real, they are far from the most common means of achieving formal schooling, particularly for children. I guess the people predicting computerized classes for youngsters neglected to note that the primary purpose of school is, in fact, as Paul Graham notes, "...to keep kids locked up in one place for a big chunk of the day so adults can get things done."
In fact most schooling—from first grade through college—consists of programmed TV courses or lectures via closed circuit. Students visit a campus once or twice a week for personal consultations or for lab work that has to be done on site. Progress of each student is followed by computer, which assigns end term marks on the basis of tests given throughout the term. Besides school lessons, other educational material is available for TV viewing. You simply press a combination of buttons and the pages flash on your home screen. The world’s information is available to you almost instantaneously...
Best-selling books are on TV tape and can be borrowed or rented from tape libraries.
They also accurately predicted microwave ovens and disposable dinnerware (it seems like a lot of people in the 50s and 60s were obsessed with being able to throw things away...what was up with that?), but apparently not the fall into disfavor of the word "housewife" (or the notion that women might not always be relegated to kitchen duty...even in Really High Tech kitchens):
The housewife simply determines in advance her menus for the week, then slips prepackaged meals into the freezer and lets the automatic food utility do the rest. At preset times, each meal slides into the microwave oven and is cooked or thawed. The meal then is served on disposable plastic plates. These plates, as well as knives, forks and spoons of the same material, are so inexpensive they can be discarded after use.
And then we have the stuff that manages to be funny, telling, and wrong all at once:
The car accelerates to 150 mph in the city’s suburbs, then hits 250 mph in less built-up areas, gliding over the smooth plastic road. You whizz past a string of cities, many of them covered by the new domes that keep them evenly climatized year round. Traffic is heavy, typically, but there’s no need to worry. The traffic computer, which feeds and receives signals to and from all cars in transit between cities, keeps vehicles at least 50 yds. apart. There hasn’t been an accident since the system was inaugurated.
Oh, if only we had awesome fast self-driving hovercars and No Accidents! That's something I'd love to see, but that would require a massive change in infrastructure -- one that I don't see on the horizon anytime soon. I'm not sure about the whole "dome covered cities" thing, though...what is this, Logan's Run?
The average work day is about four hours.
(Ha! Ha ha ha. Ahem. No. Just no.)
Go read the whole article yourself, though...it's quite a find!