In 1926, Nikola Tesla Predicts the World of 2026

Not long after Niko­la Tes­la died in 1943, the world seemed to for­get him. The first pub­lic trib­ute paid to his con­sid­er­able research and devel­op­ment in the realm of elec­tric­i­ty there­after came in 1960 with the intro­duc­tion of the tes­la, the SI unit of mag­net­ic flux den­si­ty. But in the decades since Tes­la has enjoyed an after­life as an icon of under-appre­ci­at­ed pre­science. Some of this rep­u­ta­tion is based on inter­views giv­en in the 1920s and 1930s, when he was still a celebri­ty. Take the short Col­liers mag­a­zine pro­file from 1926 in which he fore­sees the emer­gence of devices that will allow us “to com­mu­ni­cate with one anoth­er instant­ly, irre­spec­tive of dis­tance”; a man, Tes­la pre­dicts, “will be able to car­ry one in his vest pock­et.”

This arti­cle is one source of the words spo­ken in the Voic­es of the Past video above. In it, Tes­la also speaks of a future huge­ly enriched by the “wire­less ener­gy” he spent much of his career pur­su­ing. It will pow­er “fly­ing machines” in which “we shall ride from New York to Europe in a few hours.” A house­hold’s dai­ly news­pa­per “will be print­ed ‘wire­less­ly’ in the home dur­ing the night.”

Thanks to instant world­wide com­mu­ni­ca­tion, “inter­na­tion­al bound­aries will be large­ly oblit­er­at­ed and a great step will be made toward the uni­fi­ca­tion and har­mo­nious exis­tence of the var­i­ous races inhab­it­ing the globe.” All the while, new gen­er­a­tions of ever bet­ter-edu­cat­ed women “will ignore prece­dent and star­tle civ­i­liza­tion with their progress.”

Many will applaud Tes­la’s views on the advance­ment of women, though here his think­ing takes a turn that may give pause even to the most for­ward-think­ing among us today: “The acqui­si­tion of new fields of endeav­or by women, their grad­ual usurpa­tion of lead­er­ship, will dull and final­ly dis­si­pate fem­i­nine sen­si­bil­i­ties, will choke the mater­nal instinct, so that mar­riage and moth­er­hood may become abhor­rent and human civ­i­liza­tion draw clos­er and clos­er to the per­fect civ­i­liza­tion of the bee.” The inven­tor of alter­nat­ing cur­rent has much to say in favor of api­an soci­ety, “the most high­ly orga­nized and intel­li­gent­ly coor­di­nat­ed sys­tem of any form of non­ra­tional ani­mal life.” And so why not restruc­ture human civ­i­liza­tion around a sin­gle queen?

This video also draws on a 1937 inter­view with Tes­la in Lib­er­ty mag­a­zine, which fea­tures even more dis­com­fit­ing propo­si­tions. “The only method com­pat­i­ble with our notions of civ­i­liza­tion and the race is to pre­vent the breed­ing of the unfit by ster­il­iza­tion and the delib­er­ate guid­ance of the mat­ing instinct,” Tes­la insists. “The Sec­re­tary of Hygiene or Phys­i­cal Cul­ture will be far more impor­tant in the cab­i­net of the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States who holds office in the year 2035 than the Sec­re­tary of War.” Despite per­haps hav­ing crossed the line into mad-sci­en­tism, Tes­la remained inci­sive about the per­sis­tent con­di­tion of humans under high tech­nol­o­gy. “We suf­fer from the derange­ment of our civ­i­liza­tion because we have not yet com­plete­ly adjust­ed our­selves to the machine age,” he claims. “The solu­tion of our prob­lems does not lie in destroy­ing but in mas­ter­ing the machine.” Here in the 21st cen­tu­ry, of course, many of us would be con­tent sim­ply to gain mas­tery over the one in our vest pock­et.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Niko­la Tes­la Accu­rate­ly Pre­dict­ed the Rise of the Inter­net & Smart Phone in 1926

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

The Elec­tric Rise and Fall of Niko­la Tes­la: As Told by Tech­noil­lu­sion­ist Mar­co Tem­pest

Futur­ist from 1901 Describes the World of 2001: Opera by Tele­phone, Free Col­lege & Pneu­mat­ic Tubes Aplen­ty

A 1947 French Film Accu­rate­ly Pre­dict­ed Our 21st-Cen­tu­ry Addic­tion to Smart­phones

Hear an Ancient Chi­nese His­to­ri­an Describe The Roman Empire (and Oth­er Voic­es of the Past)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (9)
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  • Joe Rice says:

    The eugen­ics move­ment was quite pop­u­lar in 1930’s Amer­i­ca. Cal­i­for­nia, Vir­ginia and oth­er states forcibly ster­il­ized many peo­ple dur­ing this time peri­od, and even lat­er.

    Not to excuse Tes­la’s abhor­rent state­me­ny. It should be not­ed that this was not the rav­ings of a mad sci­en­tist, but an accept­ed polit­i­cal argu­ment.

  • Starlight Projects says:

    You are absolute­ly right… And they did it again in the 60s and 70s in the USA and 3rd world coun­tries with­out peo­ple’s per­mis­sion, autho­riza­tion or even knowl­edge. It has always been the one of the solu­tions of the so called “New World Order.” As you say, and I agree 100%, noth­ing new…

  • Fred says:

    The World did­n’t the for­get him.…Those in pow­er who teach the world, made it so that we nev­er hear of him… Best way to get gen­er­a­tions after gen­er­a­tions more stu­pid and ignorant…AND STAY IN POWER

  • Amber says:

    Won­der­ful com­ments guys :)
    So hap­py to know there are so many peo­ple that can see through the decep­tion.

    Also, love­ly arti­cle thank you :)

  • Steven Harris says:

    Life will change food short­ages bank­rupt­cies ani­mal species deplet­ing dis­eases increas­ing coun­tries on the edge of War waste cen­ters poi­son­ing oceans an earth with killing off ani­mals every­where human beings fight­ing over reli­gion and land immi­gra­tion bring­ing in dis­eases

  • Charlotte Miller says:

    Niko­la Tes­la was a bril­liant sci­en­tist. It’s a shame Edi­son and Mar­coni treat­ed him so bad­ly steal­ing his work and claim­ing his patents.

  • Shrawan Kumar says:

    Abso­lut­ly Cor­rect abt Niko­la Tes­la ..

    He was doing all the research works for com­mon peo­ple with­out any mon­ey mat­ters ..thats what led him to debt
    .….Busi­ness­man JP Mor­gan , Thomas Edi­son and Mar­coni they nev­er hes­i­tat­ed to steal his research work to get cred­it from the com­mon peo­ple … !!

    He left 80 Brief­cas­es when he died ..which was hand­ed over to his niece …who hand­ed over 60 Brief­cas­es to US Govt. …and final­ly 40 Brief­cas­es were made Pub­lic .. BUT with lots of over­worked so that it should NOT be clear to the Com­mon peo­ple .!!
    …Today you ask any Aspi­rant , Engi­neer Elec­tri­cal. or Elec­tron­ics or AStro­Physics …Or Research work doing Pro­fes­sion­als HOw they Miss NIKOLA TESLA Sire today …!!??!!
    ..So sad ..!!.

  • Daren Roy John Dahlgren says:

    Nik­ki T was transgender..he could have kids. They say he was fat for about a year n he had a very odd rela­tion­ship with mark Twain. He had a very high pitched voice n screamed n yelled like a woman to his work­ers. He’d freak out over pearls n nev­er would touch wom­en’s hair n he nev­er had sex with any women. Once a young appren­tice asked him why Tes­la nev­er had sex with any of those beau­ti­ful women he dat­ed Tes­la pulled down his pants n the guy said he had a vagi­na. Women would asked Tes­la’s col­leges if they ever saw what Tes­la had if they saw him at the uri­nal. They said he was always in the stall. He did­n’t age well just like most women n he hon­ored his moth­er more than his dad..Nikola is both a girls n boys name n Tes­la was an enud.he chose the fem­i­nine side. I think his grand nephew is real­ly his grand­son n his sis­ter raised his son as her nev­er know he was very reclu­sive for a rea­son.

  • Bill says:

    Sounds like a sto­ry made up by Thomas Edi­son!

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