Growing up in Duluth, Minnesota, I read all the leading Science and Science Fiction writers, and had a special interest in Arthur C. Clark’s work, both his stories and speculative works on the future. His practical predictions about what could be accomplished in the field of telecommunications was of special interest to me.
Clark speculated in an address to the American Institute of Architects in 1967 (reprinted in his book “Report on Planet Three”, Arthur C. Clark, 1972):
“Newspapers will, I think receive their final body blow from these new communications techniques… How I look forward to the day when I can press a button and get any type of news, editorial, book and theater reviews, etc., merely by dialing the right channel. The print will flash on the screen, and if I want “hard copy” to file or read elsewhere, another button will conjure forth a printed sheet containing only what I need.
Moreover, not only today’s but any newspaper ever published will be available. Some sort of TV-like console, connected to a central electronic library, could make available any information ever printed, in any form.
Electronic “mail” delivery is another exciting prospect of the very near future…”
In the book and movie 2001 Clark wrote about a Newspad device which captured my interest in 1968:
“Floyd sometimes wondered if the Newspad, and the fantastic technology behind it, was the last word in man’s quest for perfect communications. Here he was, far out in space, speeding away from Earth at thousands of miles an hour, yet in a few milliseconds he could see the headlines of any newspaper he pleased. (That very word “newspaper,” of course, was an anachronistic hangover into the age of electronics.) The text was updated automatically on every hour; even if one read only the English versions, one could spend an entire lifetime doing nothing but absorbing the ever-changing flow of information from the news satellites.”
The Newspad idea, circa 1968, from the movie 2001.
Well Arthur, I think we did it!