British Advertisers Predict in 1935 What the World Will Look Like in 2500: Wireless TV, Atomic Cars & More


Back before the pub­lic came to terms with the grim causal rela­tion­ship between cig­a­rettes and can­cer, smok­ing was a jol­ly affair, whose plea­sures extend­ed well beyond the phys­i­cal act.

Smok­ing was socia­ble. Yes, there were cer­tain sit­u­a­tions in which three on a match could spell doom, but a far greater like­li­hood that light­ing an attrac­tive stranger’s cof­fin nail might kin­dle con­ver­sa­tion, and more.

If you were at a loss for words, you might break the ice with the trad­ing cards man­u­fac­tur­ers slipped inside cig­a­rette packs, such as these mid-30s beau­ties that came inside packs of Greys, a now-defunct British cig­a­rette brand, and favorite of WWI vets.

The sub­ject is unusu­al. Sports, cin­e­ma stars, and mil­i­tary scenes were com­mon themes of the time. The “Greys Antic­i­pa­tions” series took cre­ative lib­er­ties, by imag­in­ing a (can­cer-free) year 2500, in which Lon­don­ers would be privy to such inno­va­tions as solar-light­ing, mov­ing side­walks, and wire­less tele­vi­sion…

Great Scott! Were they psy­chic!?

Hope­ful­ly not.

Hope­ful­ly, we’ve still got 484 years to find out…


“Pica­dil­ly, Lon­don, A.D. 2500: Roofed-in under non-con­duc­tive mica glass . . mov­ing path­ways . . rub­ber road­ways avenued into 50, 100, 150 and 200 miles per hour . . sus­pend­ed mono rail­ways . . motors dri­ven by atom­ic ener­gy . . pho­net­ic spelling . . wire­less tele­vi­sion . . light­ed by cap­tured solar rays . . excur­sions to Mars.”

I’m fine with excur­sions to Mars and mono­rails but atom­ic ener­gy is as prob­lem­at­ic as the health claims once put for­ward by cig­a­rette ads.


“At the Cus­toms House on the Roof of Lon­don, A.D. 2500: The rail­way train has fol­lowed the ichthyosaurus into extinc­tion. Mighty aer­i­al lin­ers trans­port pas­sen­gers in their thou­sands, with great car­goes of mer­chan­dise from con­ti­nent to con­ti­nent. Mankind, liv­ing amidst such tremen­dous achieve­ments, thinks, plans, and acts with cor­re­spond­ing big­ness.”

Hmm…I was kind of root­ing for train trav­el to make a come­back


“The Plea­sure City, Lon­don, A.D. 2500: Plea­sure-seek­ing has been raised to a fine art … muti­tudes when the short day’s work is done find a sat­is­fy­ing means of relax­ation in smok­ing “GREYS” Cig­a­rettes and lis­ten­ing to the mam­moth mechan­i­cal orches­tra … char­ac­ter­is­tic of the music of the peri­od … music so com­plex that it can be ren­dered only by won­der­ous mech­a­nism.”

This does sound rather fun, depend­ing on who’s doing the pro­gram­ming… per­haps we should just stick with head­phones and a busker on every cor­ner.


A Hive of Indus­try, A.D. 2500: Lit­er­al­ly a “hive” in that it is a city unto itself … radi­at­ing from the mam­moth super-fac­to­ry are work­ers’ dwellings and asso­ci­at­ed insti­tutes … archi­tec­ture gov­erned by the pre­vail­ing mate­r­i­al — con­crete … no smoke (oth­er than from tobac­co!) … no house­hold cook­ing . . meals deliv­ered by pneu­mat­ic tube from cen­tral cook­house.

Um…I strong­ly sug­gest revis­it­ing Ter­ry Gilliam’s 1985 film, Brazil,  before sign­ing off on the whole pneu­mat­ic tube thing.

Dar­ran Ander­son, author of  Imag­i­nary Cities, took a clos­er look at one of the cards in the above talk about imag­i­nary Lon­don. I share his opin­ion that “phonet­ic spelling… is the best thing that they envis­aged of the future.”

He also notes that the card is about 20 years ahead of its time in pro­mot­ing a mid-50s‑style vision of the future, but that it failed to pre­dict the demise of Greys Cig­a­rettes, by promi­nent­ly adver­tis­ing them on the side of a sus­pend­ed mono­rail.


via Metafil­ter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

In 1900, Ladies’ Home Jour­nal Pub­lish­es 28 Pre­dic­tions for the Year 2000

Niko­la Tesla’s Pre­dic­tions for the 21st Cen­tu­ry: The Rise of Smart Phones & Wire­less, The Demise of Cof­fee, The Rule of Eugen­ics (1926/35)

Cig­a­rette Com­mer­cials from David Lynch, the Coen Broth­ers and Jean Luc Godard

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Her play Zam­boni Godot is open­ing in New York City in March 2017. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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