“Magic Highway USA” from 1958 predicts what the future will bring.

I love reading and watching old predictions about what the future will bring. Sometimes they are startlingly close to the mark. However, most are like this excerpt from the 1958 Disneyland TV Show episode entitled Magic Highway USA:

Detroit wouldn’t be in the dire straights it is now if half of these predictions had come true. One of the things that struck me as I was watching this was the massive amount of energy, of all forms, it would take to make that future a reality. Self-heating roads to clear off ice and snow? Air conditioned highways through vast deserts? Self-lighting highways negating the need for headlights? Of course they were assuming everything would be atomic powered by that point in time. Even the cars, as you see at the end. Can you imagine the amount of spent radioactive fuel that would be piling up from all of that? We don’t even know what to do with what we create from the relatively few nuclear power plants we have now. Imagine if you had to deal with spent fuel rods from your car.

This was the future your parents dreamed about.

Found via Boing Boing.

7 thoughts on ““Magic Highway USA” from 1958 predicts what the future will bring.

  1. Actually, I do not think it is so unreasonable to expect that we will eventually find the ability to pretty much make energy as cheap as… well as water, or sand, or email spam.

    Fusion or solar sails in orbit are good options. A couple others like tidal generators would also give us more energy than we could ever burn (literally). Once we have generation / collection methods without major downsides and with neglectable costs, we will wonder why we EVER bothered to turn lights off, or why we should NOT float our whole house over to Florida on the anti-grav pods just for a short visit to gramps. Energy is power, and there is no scientific reason why we will not one day have an effectively unlimited amount.

  2. Oh, and that video was absolutely lovely. As someone who constantly has to fight as a cycle advocate against the excesses of the motorcar / highway lobby, it’s good to be reminded every now and then that these folks often just see this as the best things since sliced bread, rather than being hell-bent on driving cyclists and pedestrians off the road…

  3. You forgot to factor time. t”Make” energy? No such thing. We can “gather” energy. To gather that much energy in a timeframe usuable in daily life is beyond our capability for a long time.

    The blind optimism is however the same from this video to your statement.
    Free energy for all??

    We cant even stop killing each other long enough to feed and protect children!

  4. They said that electricity would be unmetered in re: nuclear power plants.

    Oh my.. They couldn’t resist THAT temptation for long… Not that such a thing was ever reasonable..

    Why must we fight against and over nature? Why do we NEED so much damned energy? The waste alone is… astonishing..

  5. Apparently in the future, gender roles will still be idiotic. But there’s one question: Since “father” only walks ten feet from his car to his desk, and “mother” is swept around the mall shopping effortlessly on moving sidewalks, how do they look so healthy and fit?

  6. i WANT a sun powered electro sun car thingie. WOW.

    Actually, this just scared the bejeesus out of me..

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