Isaac Asimov was one of the foremost science-fiction writers of the mid-twentieth century, combining a prophet-like sense of vision with a pulp novelist’s ear for dialogue and plotting. Together with Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Philip Dick, and Robert Heinlein, he helped to legitimize sci-fi as a serious literary art form.
In 1964 Asimov visited the 1964 New York World’s Fair, which memorably envisioned a future in which people lived underground and used commercially available flying technology. Asimov returned home and wrote an essay outlining his predictions for what the world would look like 50 years later, in 2014. His predictions turned out to be eerily prescient, and in retrospect more accurate than much of what was presented at the Fair. Reading his essay today, one sometimes gets the feeling that he was casually writing from the comfort of a coffee shop in a future that no one had yet seen but him.
10. Small Computers
At a time when computers seemed to be getting bigger and bigger, Asimov dared to imagine a future in which they had become more compact and accessible. “The appliances of 2014 will have no electric cords, of course,” he wrote, “for they will be powered by long- lived batteries running on radioisotopes.” If technology hasn’t yet reached the point of being completely cordless, it’s getting there.