Google as predicted in 1964

I do enjoy looking at old predictions of the future. Eventually, the future arrives and we can compare it with the predictions.

Sometimes, the predictions are better than the reality. Sometimes, reality outpaces not only the predictions but even the dreams of the past. And sometimes, the predictions end up being pretty-much spot on.

That’s the case with a piece about the “answer machine” of the future, which appeared in the book Childcraft Volume 6: How Things Change, published by Field Enterprises Educational Corporation in 1964. (Thanks to Paleo-Future for bringing this to my attention.)

Here’s how it starts:


I think Google can handle that:


What else can our Answer Machine do for us?


A single click from Google’s first result shows us this picture:



Yep, “File | Print” does the job nicely.


The original “Mary Had A Little Lamb” recording was not kept, but we can listen to Edison re-enacting it or to an 1899 recording made on Edison’s 1878 tinfoil phonograph.


A Google Video search doesn’t disappoint, although you do need to scroll past movies about Edison Lighthouse. I especially like this movie, filmed by Edison, which demonstrates that the more things change, the more they stay the same.


Someday? I already have an answer machine that can do all those things. And if that fails, I can ask my question at Uclue. I’m feeling lucky.

36 Responses to “Google as predicted in 1964”

  1. Jaan Kanellis says:

    eiffel what a great example of how technology catches up with lofty predictions of the past!

  2. Matt says:

    Very insightful analysis of a past prediction! Thanks for the link.

  3. Rick Sparks says:

    I’m just groovin’ on the fact that the girl is using a FLAT-SCREEN LCD PANEL.

    Love it!

  4. Schwarze says:

    AND she’s using windows!! Amazing. haha.

  5. Arksyne says:

    Heck, the screen has rounded corners. I’d say it’s a flat-screen CRT, but the fact that it’s embedded in the wall is nifty.

  6. Aaron says:

    Interesting that we still can’t do contextual searching as the author surmised. That is, first asking “Who invented the phonograph,” then asking “When?”

  7. Greg says:

    Fantastic find! I am so glad you published this on this web site. I am old enough to remember those days and going to a school outing that took us to Sydney Australia’s “Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences” (since renamed “Powerhouse Museum”) where I saw “OXO the noughts and crosses playing computer” that was about 20 feet off the floor and about, in feet 10x10x10 from my memory (aware that those memories are of a long time ago and may not be accurate). It was HUGE and it only played “noughts and crosses” and nothing else. It started my interest in computers long before there was ever one in a house as a tool. I read everything I could about them in the 60s and remember a lot of predictions. I never did read that one you showed. Amazing prediction! Thanks for the memory!

  8. Josh says:

    I’m just curious, if she can print out a picture of the phonograph, why is she still using a typewriter?

  9. pafalafaga says:

    Just a ditto to everyone else’s comments. Great find, very cleverly presented.

    And nice to see Web Owls back in action, too.


  10. Ed Snyder says:

    Just one question… where’s my flying car?

  11. Joe says:

    Where’s my flying car?

  12. Ron Boyd says:

    …. here’s the Moller Skycar… it not only works (few bugs and approvals still to go) but you can pre order yours today!

  13. Tammara says:

    Wow! That’s pretty cool, and yes it’s also amazing the screen is a flat screen on her wall – lol! I like how you put the entirety of it together by adding the Google search in there to illustrate. Thanks for the info :D

  14. Ken says:

    Uhmm … Flat screen with built-in (color) printer is still way far ahead. I guess.

  15. Arif says:

    awsome! its really amazing..

  16. Jeff says:

    I think this is great too. But I wouldn’t assume that it’s a flat screen. The artist likely thought it would be an advanced vacuum tube screen embedded in the wall.

  17. Jay says:

    Wow. I sure enjoyed that. Amazing…

  18. jw says:

    google wasn’t the first search engine

  19. colombia says:

    haha, nooo, he is using DOS

  20. legoless says:

    Wow coool!

  21. Spuds says:

    Nice find. I love Crystal Ball gazing.

  22. Blueman says:

    Printer? Look a bit closer at the drawing. That’s a TYPEWRITER.

  23. Danny says:

    Good on you Norski for finding this.

    Maybe one of google guys got the book as a birthday present growing up!

  24. Anbu Cheeralan says:

    Thanks for the nice link. These kind of search engines (memorex) and credit card processing are detailed in a scientific paper As we may think -long back in 1945

  25. Michael says:

    Amazing. This must have sounded like total science fiction back then.

  26. Drasan says:

    I really liked this because it brought back memories from my childhood. My father owned an Appliance/Electronics Store. We so many things before the general public, like a stereo(hi-fi)
    and one of the first color tv’s before they were being sold to the general public. Except for
    the news and Ed Sullivan Show there wasn’t very much on TV that was in color.

    thanks for the memories.

  27. michael says:

    ok this would be great, but all the google owners had to do was look in that book for an idea.
    then boom out comes google.

    a book says “in the future there will be a machine that will have the ability to teleport people”

    all someone would have to do is read that book and then try to make one.

    and also the book could of been written in like 1960 and still people are probably all ready trying to make one.

    i understand were your going.
    it would be more impressive if the book was undercover and not avalible to anyone.

  28. Joy says:

    Neat!…love the flat LCD screen..^^

  29. grocery says:

    Love doing homework using old typewriter.

  30. Kiwi says:

    You’d think ‘The Answer Machine’ would be voice activated instead of using a typewriter.

  31. manswer says:

    I think we’re still far off. Look closely at the prediction. What’s missing? Ads everywhere, unexpected phonograph porn, and at-least-I-tried web design. /s

    The guy who wrote this obviously had very good insight and sense of the practical.

  32. Cappozzi says:

    Very interesting !!! I love “Mary had a little lamb”

  33. Bradstor says:

    One thing which hasn’t been mentioned here is that the screen display ratio is 18:9 (yes, I measured it). Very close to the 16:9/10 we use nowadays!

  34. Nigel Nix says:

    That is absolutely amazing !

    I was laughing myself silly but remember similar books.

  35. Harald says:

    Actually the book predicts Wolfram|Alpha ;-)

  36. Bill says:

    Am I the only one who sees the machine on the desk as a 1960s vintage Friden Flexowriter? (a teletype like device)

    Also, flat screen TVs that hang on the wall like a picture were one of the future devices that geeks dreamed of around 1970, so it seems reasonable that someone had the idea in ’64.