This 1961 AT&T Video Predicts Online Shopping

Hannah Keyser

The first chunk of the 15-minute "Challenge of Change," released in 1961 by Bell Systems (now AT&T), pats humanity on the back for how far we've come, technologically, in a such short period of time. Then, the video looks beyond the present and into the future, predicting something most of us do every day: shopping online.

Long before computers were standard in people's homes, this video imagined phones as the basis for accessing information and products around the world. Something called a card dialer acts like a modern speed dial; the call director appears to be a form of conference calling; the personal number is the prelude to the beeper and the modern cellphone; and the data-phone is practically a computer modem with its easy access to information.

But the most notable thing about the video is how it predicts virtual shopping: A woman uses a video feature in her home phone to review dress options and inserts her credit card directly into the wall-mount to purchase the selected item. A man uses his phone to scan a shopping list, which is then sent to a grocery store for filling. One particular item from the list can't be found nearby and the video closes with the implication that the delicacy will be shipped from abroad—via robots.

[h/t Paleofuture]