Sometimes predictions are a little self-serving. This one from the president of the Detroit Aircraft Corporation, which went belly-up the following year:
The whole American business structure is based upon speed. Small inventories require fast deliveries, the many recent mergers have placed a great premium-on the time of business executives, the necessity for frequent changes in the design of products requires many consultations with high salaried consulting specialists, and present conditions require frequent personal contacts between salesmen and the home office. A survey recently conducted by the Detroit Aircraft Corporation Showed that approximately 180 companies now own one or more planes. At least 20 of these own two or more ships, and it is believed that this list will be increased to many hundred by the end of 1930.
[Scientific American, June 1930]
Predictions suffer from the mood of the times they were made. This gloomy outlook comes from a Scientific American issue published during the depths of the Great Depression in 1933:
For awhile, a year or two ago, it was the fashion to utter dire and gloomy predictions as to the future of civilization. Having, like the Roman Empire at its peak, become softened by a period of hitherto unbelievable prosperity and luxury, we were doomed never to recover from the ill effects of the capitalistic scheme of things, from our mechanization program, and our own stupid short-sightedness; it was the end of everything, and only plans, plans, and more plans would save us. Nowadays, the fashion has waned among the populace in general but has become more intensified in certain quarters. It now appears that, unlike the Roman Empire, we are to have no long period of decline, but, instead, are to fall plop! into oblivion. Statistics, graphs, intricate mathematics prove it! In one year, two years, three years, the number of unemployed in this country will number 20,000,000, or even 25,000,000.
[Scientific American, March 1933]
This prediction makes much of our ability to adjust to the environment (more recent articles seem to focus on our talent for making a mess of things):
The species Homo sapiens has about 50,000 years to its credit. If the average applies, we may expect nearly or quite a half million years more of existence for our kind and then either oblivion as we reach the end of a blind alley or progressive development into some type of descendant better adjusted than we to the total environmental factors of the time. But does the average apply? Must man exit from the scene through either of the doors, that which closed behind the dinosaurs and titanotheres or that which opened before the three-toed horses and notharctines ? Most creatures have gained security by specializing in adjustment of structure and habit to particular environmental conditions, whereas man is a specialist in adjustability of structures and habits to a variety of environments. No other vertebrate can live as can he on Antarctic ice cap, in Amazonian jungle, beneath the surface of the sea, or high in the air.
[Scientific American, April 1940]
Some technologies seem quite promising. The future for this one looked bright until 1977, when five people were killed on the rooftop heliport of the Pan Am building:
Mr. Igor Sikorsky has demonstrated the abilities of the helicopter to make vertical landings in enclosed areas, to fly backward and forward and sideways, to hover, and to deposit packages on and receive them from an inaccessible place while hovering near the spot. Predictions for the post-war decade were recently made by Mr. Sikorsky, based upon the two principal objectives for travel by air: High speed, and the ability to reach any spot on the surface of the earth or sea even though surrounded by obstacles.
[Scientific American, May 1943]