“Modern Improvements in 2012″ – predictions from 1853

Dug up this curious piece today, found in the “Knickerbocker” magazine, published in April 1853. Hard to believe that 2012 has arrived so soon! Here are some highlights, in case you don’t have time to read the whole thing:

Lightning-Driven Flying Machines allow fast travel
Every school-boy has a miniature printing press of his own
Detroit will be capital of the world.
Safety-valves have been installed in every volcano

Not bad, not bad… I suppose an ink-jet qualifies as a miniature printing press. Yet, I just don’t get it how in 1853 someone could possibly think that that Detroit would rise to such prominence.

Here is the complete text


Here is a ‘scribblement’ entitled “A Sketch of “Modern Improvements in 2012,” for which we are indebted to a ‘Rapper’ who can ‘call spirits from the vasty deep’ of the Future as well as the Past. Perhaps the ‘Spirit’ is a little ‘cracked,’ but that’s his business:

“This is a progressive age. Every body says so, and it is an old maxim that what every body says is generally true. Many and great improvements have been made in every thing in the last fifty or one hundred years, and many more will probably be made during the next century. One hundred and fifty years ago, it would have taken from eight to sixteen months to go around the year. One hundred years ago, it could be done in three months: in 1960, it was accomplished in three weeks; but now, a traveller, by taking the ‘Lightning-Driven Flying-Machine,’ can sleep at Detroit, and by starting at sunrise, can breakfast at New-York, dine at Jeddo, sup at San Francisco, and be at Detroit again by bed time. Thirty thousand sheets were once thought to constitute a good hours work for any printing press: now two hundred thousand sheets an hour is ‘slow working,’ the type being set and the press being driven by electricity. School-boys no longer write compositions, each one having a miniature printing press of his own, worked by electricity, by which he con print his compositions as fast as he can think them. There are no more oceans and but few mountains now-a-days, the mountains having been levelled, and the oceans partially filled in with them, leaving nothing but large inland seas where were once the Atlantic and Pacific, thus greatly increasing the land-area. Winter is no longer the cold season it was in the olden time, even at the North Pole. Immense furnaces have been built under-ground, and the fire being let into them from the centre of the earth, the heat is conveyed in every direction by large pipes, making winter nearly as warm as summer. Safety-valves have been put in every volcano, and they can do no more damage. It was lately announced that a Japanese philosopher, whose name is unspellable, has discovered a means to prevent earthquakes, which he will soon make public. The universe, in the night time, is now lighted by gas, procured from vast natural reservoirs, a few miles below the surface of the earth. The whole world, in short, is now one vast republic, of which Detroit is the capital, and a Sandwich Islander the president. Slavery was abolished when Africa was annexed, and every body is now free. ‘Woman’s rights’ have had their day. The cause lost all its male adherents when it was found that the Treasuress who had been elected had appropriated four millions of the Public’s dollars to keep herself in ball-dresses. All these improvements, however, are nothing to what are expected to be made in a few years. We are looking forward to the day when the circuit of the earth can be performed in four hours; when the press can strike off one million sheets an hour; when grain and vegetables can be manufactured instead of grown; and, above all, when we can annex Mars, Venus, and Mercury, which we are ‘bound to do.”


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