It’s crazy to think both how short and infinitely long a century is. You see, Motorola’s DynaTAC, the first cell phone, was launched in 1984 for a price of $3,995. And today, nobody can imagine their life without touch-screen mobiles with integrated Leica cameras and AI face recognition systems that come at much less than Motorola’s initial price.

So imagine how differently people back then perceived the advancements in technology that looked both incredible and life-changing. And they were. But technology, and the world we live in, escalates so quickly that it surpasses our best forecasts for what the future holds.

And this time, we are talking a look at retro-futuristic examples created in the previous century that give us a glimpse into weird and wonderful dreams of the human mind.

#1

An Artists Depiction Of The Future, Painted In 1930

An Artists Depiction Of The Future, Painted In 1930

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Linus Nilsson
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Spot on!

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#2

A Fifties Navigation System. Don't Know Who Imagined This But I Love It!

A Fifties Navigation System. Don't Know Who Imagined This But I Love It!

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James016
Community Member
3 weeks ago

I love this

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To find out more about the weird and wonderful retrofuturism movement, Bored Panda reached out to Lisa Yaszek, a Regents Professor of Science Fiction Studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Lisa explained that when we talk about retrofuturist objects and images, we usually refer to images of the past from the late 1800s through the space race, like many of the images collected here. “And when we look at these images, it becomes clear that people from the past actually had expectations of the future that were often quite like our own!”

#3

1940s Vision Of Food Delivery Future

1940s Vision Of Food Delivery Future

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Sum Guy
Community Member
3 weeks ago

This is actually cool. when you order something, as the truck moves to your house, they are also preparing the food. It gets to you as soon as it's plated. AMAZING

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According to Lisa, “they seem to have been particularly good at extrapolating from all the exciting new communications technologies of the time—telephones, radios, film, and TV—to imagine a range of new communications technologies much like we have now that allow us to talk to anyone from anywhere (#1 and 11), navigate our cars with ease (#2), get breaking news on our screens (#5), and even shop from home (#18 is shockingly on the mark).”

#4

We Really Messed Up

We Really Messed Up

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RadiatorAnkleSpider
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Dude, this would be awesome.

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#5

Television Newspaper - Some Day You May Be Able To Receive The Front Page Of Your Morning Newspaper This Way

Television Newspaper - Some Day You May Be Able To Receive The Front Page Of Your Morning Newspaper This Way

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Sum Guy
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Yes it can be done

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#6

Self Driving Cars Of The Future, Circa 1960

Self Driving Cars Of The Future, Circa 1960

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N G
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Close. Not there yet.

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Moreover, “People of the past were also quite good at anticipating how our clothing and personal presentation might change! Image #1 presents us with the kind of brightly colored, streamlined, unisex uniform first imagined by avant-garde artists and then made popular by science fiction filmmakers in the opening decades of the twentieth century and that are still very much with us today.”

As for image #16, Lisa sees it as an exciting representation of future fashion. “The two models here appear to be wearing then-contemporary undergarments, but other aspects of their styles are very modern! The artist certainly guessed correctly that in the future, we would wear less clothing in public, indulge in more body ornamentation (the man’s tattoos look a lot like the tribal body art that became popular with the Modern Primitive movement in the 1990s), and that gender roles might be less clearly defined.”

#7

2022

2022

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River Webb
Community Member
3 weeks ago

This comment is hidden. Click here to view.

This comment has been deleted.

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#8

'ship's Cat' By Keith Spangle

'ship's Cat' By Keith Spangle

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River Webb
Community Member
3 weeks ago

cats of the future

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#9

The Future Of Phones, 1956

The Future Of Phones, 1956

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Linus Nilsson
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Not even in the imagined picture is it possible to hold the phone comfortably.

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Having said that, the people of the past were not always very accurate with their predictions about the use of big science and big engineering, said Lisa. “Images #15, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, and 30 are particularly good examples of the utopian dream that someone—possibly the state, possibly a benevolent corporation—will engage in big, public engineering projects that will allow us to live well in the potentially hostile environments we might encounter in the future.”

#10

1970s Futuristic Concept For Jetliner Air Travel

1970s Futuristic Concept For Jetliner Air Travel

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Truth Monster
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Imagine turbulence with that pool.

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#11

James Bond Receives A "Text" Via His Smartwatch In The Spy Who Loved Me

James Bond Receives A "Text" Via His Smartwatch In The Spy Who Loved Me

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Kathryn Baylis
Community Member
3 weeks ago (edited)

But where would he keep the roll of tape the message is stamped onto?

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#12

1969 Japanese Vision Of The Future Classroom, The Odd Part Is That Included Small Robots To Rap Students On The Head When Misbehaving

1969 Japanese Vision Of The Future Classroom, The Odd Part Is That Included Small Robots To Rap Students On The Head When Misbehaving

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elia 84631
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Today we live it with Zoom

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According to the professor, people also had surprisingly different ideas about transportation than we do now. “I get the sense that the women in image #1 have flown their personal airplanes to the restaurant for a quick drink, and I love the idea that we might create maglevs for mass transit and then use balloons and mechanized glass domes for personal travel (#4, 7). People were right to guess that we’d have automated cars (#6, 17), but they clearly didn’t anticipate that such cars would be used mostly for corporate purposes.”

“Finally, as a university professor, I am desperately sad that we have not developed robots to rap students on the head when they are misbehaving as in image #10. Someone needs to start working on that immediately,” the professor commented.

#13

VR In 1989

VR In 1989

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Sum Guy
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Someone keeps saying jesus is lord... I grew up in a christian household but we never forced it down other people's throats. It is annoying

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#14

Artoo Deco

Artoo Deco

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River Webb
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Star Wars inspiration

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#15

How Nasa Imagined Life In Space

How Nasa Imagined Life In Space

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Milan Culik
Community Member
3 weeks ago

So that is where Elysium movie got their inspiration!

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The professor of science fiction studies also noted that it’s important to remember that these futures were not retro to the people who imagined them. “They were modern imaginings of the future, inspired by the cutting-edge sciences and avant-garde arts of the time.”

From the retrofuturist images that were generated between the 1880s and 1960s, “we get a great sense of the sciences and technologies that were most important to people of the past, including new modes of mass and personal transportation, new communication technologies, and new habitats for new forms of living (garden mega-cities and artificial ringworlds),” Lisa explained.

#16

Fashions Of 1950, As Predicted On The Cover Of Life Magazine In 1914

Fashions Of 1950, As Predicted On The Cover Of Life Magazine In 1914

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Vic
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Those are some rad tattoos..

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#17

1981 Vision Of Suburbia After There's No More Room Left For Suburbs

1981 Vision Of Suburbia After There's No More Room Left For Suburbs

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Elaine Verhagen
Community Member
3 weeks ago

I love the fact that everyone still has a garden and freestanding house instead of a balcony with no space.

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#18

Home Shopping In The 1940s

Home Shopping In The 1940s

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Hans
Community Member
3 weeks ago

"Yep, that looks like I don't need it."

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Lisa added that “people were inspired by the rise of modern cities and modern factories to imagine that we would enjoy many large, state- or corporate-sponsored public works projects—and that those projects would combine the best of the natural and technological worlds,” and added: “They are wholeheartedly utopian!”

#19

Futuristic Road Trip With The Family (Bruce Mccall)

Futuristic Road Trip With The Family (Bruce Mccall)

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Linus Nilsson
Community Member
3 weeks ago

All else aside, is a pizza oven in the car too much to ask for?

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#20

City Of The Future As Imagined In 1908

City Of The Future As Imagined In 1908

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Nea
Community Member
3 weeks ago

A very Hollywoodish imagination

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#21

The Future We Were Promised

The Future We Were Promised

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Rose the Cook
Community Member
3 weeks ago

The Hover Car.

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Meanwhile, Lina Survila, a global tech PR and chief editor at Abstract Stylist, also told Bored Panda that “artists had the perfect vision, and it seems they were very close to the ideas we see today.”

Moreover, “Retro futurist aesthetics have touched every possible art form there is. Fashion is no exception. When we think of futurism in fashion and a bright vision of what the future might be, we think of Paco Rabanne. The Spanish fashion designer was active in the '60s and totally disrupted the fashion scene with retrofuturistic designs and his ideas of how people would dress in the future (most likely, that future is now).”

#22

Soviet Vision Of The Future In The 1930s

Soviet Vision Of The Future In The 1930s

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Linus Nilsson
Community Member
3 weeks ago

No, I wont say it... Don't you try forcing me to say it!

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#23

Futuristic Netherlands, Drawn In 1970

Futuristic Netherlands, Drawn In 1970

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Truth Monster
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Clever use of land.

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#24

1984 Smart Watch

1984 Smart Watch

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River Webb
Community Member
3 weeks ago

what a pain to put on

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Retro ideas of how the future would look inspired many creators, artists, and thinkers, “from architect and designer Matti Suuronen (Futuro house created in the 1970s) to writer Isaac Asimov's book The Naked Sun.” Lina added that The Jetsons with their retrofuturistic flying cars also deserve a big shout-out in popularizing the movement’s aesthetics in popular culture.

#25

The 2020 Olympics...not 100% Accurate

The 2020 Olympics...not 100% Accurate

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River Webb
Community Member
3 weeks ago

If only

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#26

Monsanto House Of The Future 1957

Monsanto House Of The Future 1957

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N G
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Now I know where some of the Grand Designs lot got their inspiration. Anyone else looking for Kevin McCloud in this pic?

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#27

Worst Space Suit Design Ever?

Worst Space Suit Design Ever?

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Heike
Community Member
3 weeks ago

It's for Covid-19 not for space... Flint Baker is handling the situation pretty well even though the one-eyed people of Mars refuse to get vaccined.

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#28

This Was An Actual Space Suit Grumman Aircraft Corp Tried To Sell Nasa In 1962

This Was An Actual Space Suit Grumman Aircraft Corp Tried To Sell Nasa In 1962

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River Webb
Community Member
3 weeks ago

it looks like a salt shaker grew arms and legs

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#29

Teen-Agers Of The 21st Century

Teen-Agers Of The 21st Century

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N G
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Ah, teen-speak. Incomprehensible to the over 40s in the past, present and future!

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#30

Nuke-Proof Underground City Below Manhattan, 1969 (Oscar Newman)

Nuke-Proof Underground City Below Manhattan, 1969 (Oscar Newman)

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Mr Red
Community Member
3 weeks ago

Or we could get rid of all nukes...

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Note: this post originally had 49 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.