1970s humor mag predicts future


Jerry Beck of Cartoon Brew says:

I received several old issues of Cracked magazine over the holidays and noticed this article predicting life in the 21st Century had become surprisingly accurate.

"Today's Swinger is Tomorrow's Square," illustrated by John Severin, appeared in the 1974 annual Super Cracked (It was most likely a reprint from a 1970 issue). In it, the writer predicts that young people will embrace the "skinhead" look, home computers ("Electronic Home Teacher") and even the ipod: as "electronic brain stimulators" and a "musical computers" that young people are hooked on.

I've attached one image from it... but check the whole piece at Cartoon Brew.


  1. Reminds me of the (unfortunately not true) quote from an Atari exec in the early 80s. The story goes that when asked what she thought about video games’ influence on children, referring to Pac Man she said something like, “That’s ridiculous. As if people are going to be running around in dark rooms with flashing lights, gobbling little pills.”

  2. Grimc, I believe what you’re looking for is:

    “If Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive electronic music.”

    which, while attributed to various video game executives over the years, was apparently written by an English comedian:


  3. urshrew, it’s the opposite of long hair…amazingly, hair was a great divider between the generations back then…and long hair was the ‘in thing’ amongst the youth at the time this comic was drawn. Skinhead kids rebelling against their long-haired hippie parents, like Ned Flanders and his beatnik parents, only in reverse, kinda.
    PS Like the red square.

  4. I was a voracious reader of MAD, CRACKED, and CRAZY and may well have seen that issue when it first came out.

    One CRAZY special issue had a set of goofy Tarot cards.

  5. If I remember correctly, PK Dick “predicted” kids sporting the skinhead look in “Time Out of Joint”, however it’s only the girls that are skinheads, men wear their hair in some kind of pointy hi-top fade (and wear full length white tunics).

    Is the musical computer (playing quiet music with no beat) a premonition of the FM3 Buddah Machine?

    1. I just re-read Ender’s Game (1977). His characters use portable computers for school, play interactive games on the computer and, best of all, assume false identities to post political rhetoric (with which they personally disagree) on online message boards. Locke and Demosthenes are sock puppets.

  6. The prediction of electronic music festivals makes me wish I could take a full sound system and a DVD of Underworld’s “Everything, Everything” back in time. No beat? That bass will pulverize your kidney stones, pop.

  7. What’s this about Underworld’s “Everything, Everything? Tell me more. A search gave no results.


  8. Mad magazine is also a rich field of future predictions that were simply too ridiculous to ever come true, which is why they did.

    The examples that most immediately and repeatedly come to mind, is the epidemic use of scooters for fat people to get around (rather than walk) done during the early days of the Magazine under Feldstein, and the multiple blade disposable razor. I think I still use twin blades, maybe triple blades, but at that time (probably an al jaffee illustrated article in the early 70s late 60’s) when double blades, the ridiculous number of blades was perhaps a max of four.

    Isn’t there a five blade razor on the market now?

  9. This 1972 Rolling Stone article, “Spacewar”, did a good job predicting the future, too.


    The dream for the Net was that researchers at widely separated facilities could share special resources, dip into each other’s files, and even work on-line together on design problems too complex to solve alone.

    At present some 20 major computer centers are linked on the two-year-old ARPA Net. Traffic on the Net has been very slow, due to delays and difficulties of translation between different computers and divergent projects. Use has recently begun to increase as researchers travel from center to center and want to keep in touch with home base, and as more tantalizing, sharable resources come available. How Net usage will evolve is uncertain.

    There’s a curious mix of theoretical fascination and operational resistance around the scheme. The resistance may have something to do with reluctances about equipping a future Big Brother and his Central Computer. The fascination resides in the thorough rightness of computers as communications instruments, which implies some revolutions.

    One popular new feature on the Net is AI’s Associated Press service. From anywhere on the Net you can log in and get the news that’s coming live over the wire or ask for all the items on a particular subject that have come in during the last 24 hours. Plus a fortune cookie. Project that to household terminals, and so much for newspapers (in present form).

    Since huge quantities of information can be computer-digitalized and transmitted, music researchers could, for example, swap records over the Net with “essentially perfect fidelity.” So much for record stores (in present form).

  10. Well, the “computerized atonal garbage” might have tipped you off if you had a smattering of knowledge of classical music. It’s exactly what was being created at the time under the name “electro-acoustic” music in a number of research centers (notable the IRCAM in Paris). In fact, it’s not a prediciton of the future, but rather a complaint about the current trends of classical music.

  11. anonymous: five blade razors? I think they have six now, five on the front and a “precise trimmer”….

    What I finds interesting is the miniscule amount it takes before this article (contains rude words) from the Onion in Febuary ’04 is trumped by truth in this one from CNN in september ’05…

    And yes, now they have six. I await the time, hopefully not far off now, when all us red-blooded men can go into the chemists, have our chins measured (I’m guessing with computers), and emerge with a sort of ‘shave mask’ into which you place your jaw – a sort of rubberized, multi-blade beard snood, if you like – then all you’d do is simply nod your head to experience “the closest shave yet”.

    Sure, it sounds risky as hell to us right now, in our so-called ‘sensible’ present, but it’s just the sort of inbuilt obsolescence to set my heart racing and my testosterone bubbling… my masculinity almost fit to burst! Ready for anything the trading floor/space mission/strong parenting moment throws my way! God, yes!

    I seem to have got carried away with myself. Apologies.

  12. It’s more or less accurate… I’m 17, I live in Germany (so I’m surrounded by western trends), and I think the youth is getting very interesting.
    Yeah I know what you ex-hippies must think now:

    “that’s what we thought about ourselves too back then!”

    But I think the world as we know it today, with the extreme progresses of technology which pushed international communication to it’s extremes, we see young people finding out about different cultures, ideologies, trends, etc, than the ones they are confronted with where they live.

    Therefore I think the comic above is as much a critique of current trends as a critique of the hippie thing. Only now, I think that thanks to the Internet, it’s easier to question current trends.

    O.k, what’s my point? There is no point… ^^

  13. “…international communication to it’s extremes, we see young people finding out about different cultures, ideologies, trends, etc, than the ones they are confronted with where they live.”
    Not just young people, and “international communication” will not reach its “extremes” until the advent of cheap accurate instantaneous machine translation between languages.
    But it is not just the internet, the very structure and nature of science also increases our knowledge and awareness of (physically, to a lesser extent, temporally) far-away people/societies/ways of life/ways of thought.
    IMO it is this continuing discovery and inter-influence of the East and the West, of ‘us’ and the ‘other’, that has been the major theme of humanity’s development over the past century, maybe longer.
    We are getting to know each other better. It will take some centuries, if the past is any guide.
    It is my hope that the bloodier phase of this development is behind us.

  14. re the electronic music thing: didn’t Orwell have the proles listening to machine-generated popular songs in 1984? (published in 1948)

    Yep, we’re living in an Orwellian nightmare.

    No – hold on, I LIKE electronica!

  15. Predicting the future is not about predicting styles but about predicting trends in beliefs and values. The cartoonist missed a social trend of great import. The family depicted in the cartoon is a nuclear family. How realistic is that now?

  16. @ 14:
    hear hear — that album kicks ass. actually pretty much everything underworld has ever done (except their first album, ugh!) is awesome.

  17. “The family depicted in the cartoon is a nuclear family. How realistic is that now?”

    The last page has a couple of bald kids telling their dads they’re leaving the commune.

    Though I think the author was imagining it as more of a communal group marriage thing than gay parents.

  18. I think that Gene Roddenberry was the last person in the world to imagine that the future would entail everyone wearing unisex leotards, which was essentially what the original Star Trek: TNG uniforms were. As it turns out, they were horribly uncomfortable–they tended to pull in the crotch–and ended up being replaced with two-piece outfits.

  19. #18 Tulsatv- Does it count as a prediction when it’s Stewart Brand doing it? As opposed to “random wire service reporter #1”?

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