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Driverless Cars and Flat TVs: Predictions of an Automated Future in 1956

In Issue:

The idea of a driverless car must have seemed fantastic to Post readers when this ad appeared in 1956. Yet America’s Independent Power Companies, the advertiser, predicted they’d be a reality some day.

The ad gets many other things right: More than a decade before the invention of the microwave, it anticipated cooking food in seconds. It also predicted light sensors that automatically switch on lamps after dark, television screens that hang on the wall, and “electric heat pumps will use outside air to cool your house in summer, heat it in winter.”

Lastly, the ad claimed that the electric light and power companies were expecting the demand for electricity to double in 20 years. In this regard, they were wrong; it more than tripled.

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