Vision of the Internet from 1982

An archived article at The New York Times from 1982 envisages the internet:

The report suggests that one-way and two-way home information systems, called teletext and videotex, will penetrate deeply into daily life, with an effect on society as profound as those of the automobile and commercial television earlier in this century.

It conjured a vision, at once appealing and threatening, of a style of life defined and controlled by videotex terminals throughout the house.

As a consequence, the report envisioned this kind of American home by the year 1998: ”Family life is not limited to meals, weekend outings, and oncea-year vacations. Instead of being the glue that holds things together so that family members can do all those other things they’re expected to do – like work, school, and community gatherings -the family is the unit that does those other things, and the home is the place where they get done. Like the term ‘cottage industry,’ this view might seem to reflect a previous era when family trades were passed down from generation to generation, and children apprenticed to their parents. In the ‘electronic cottage,’ however, one electronic ‘tool kit’ can support many information production trades.”

I’ve never heard of the “videotex” industry before:

The study focused on the emerging videotex industry, formed by the marriage of two older technologies, communications and computing. It estimated that 40 percent of American households will have two-way videotex service by the end of the century. By comparison, it took television 16 years to penetrate 90 percent of households from the time commercial service was begun. 

Some incredibly prescient predictions here:

The home will double as a place of employment, with men and women conducting much of their work at the computer terminal. This will affect both the architecture and location of the home. It will also blur the distinction between places of residence and places of business, with uncertain effects on zoning, travel patterns and neighborhoods.

Home-based shopping will permit consumers to control manufacturing directly, ordering exactly what they need for ”production on demand.”

Interesting to dig up archive articles like this, no?

2 thoughts on “Vision of the Internet from 1982

  1. The problem, at the time, with such predictions is that it was hard to envision the idea that videotex would change anything. Videotex was like something out of a bad ’60s SciFi movie. It was highly centralized and nothing like the Internet of today. Of course, the Internet already existed in ’82, and if the author had picked that as the platform I’d be more impressed with the vision. It wasn’t until a few years later in the Gopher/WAIS era that more people began to see the true potential of distributed information systems. Commercialization (’88) and Web (’92) were the tipping points.

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