Now Reading
Space Colonies And Other Ideas People In The 1900s Were Sure Would Be Happening By Now

Space Colonies And Other Ideas People In The 1900s Were Sure Would Be Happening By Now

People get some pretty wild ideas about the future. I, for one, am still hoping we’ll be able to teleport at some point in my lifetime. Just imagine how much faster it would be to pop over to another country?

Sometimes these wild ideas come true — those self-lacing shoes from Back To The Future WERE created after all — but sometimes they’re just not possible or practical in reality.

That’s never stopped the dreamers from dreaming though, and it’s always fun to have a look at what people in decades past thought we’d all be up to by 2020 — mainly to see how wrong they were.

#1 Underwater bus (1932)

Image: Popular Science magazine, 1932

Seriously, people were obsessed with underwater non-boats in the 1900s. This Underwater Bus using tractor treads instead of wheels was invented by a French engineer and presented in Popular Science magazine in 1932. The same guy also came up with the concept of an underwater railroad for cable-drawn carriages.

This bus, however, would funnel oxygen to passengers via surface air tubes, and could eject the undercarriage to rise to the surface in emergencies — in which case a small motor and propeller would zoom passengers to safety. I mean, there was that scUber situation, so I guess it’s sort of a thing?

#2 Amphibious Watermobile (1947)

Image: Mechanix Illustrated magazine, 1947

During World War II, armies started to experiment with vehicles that could come right out of the sea and keep on driving. This was where industrial designer Robert Zeidman found inspiration for the “civilian amphibian” campervan.

While some forms of amphibious vehicles are used today, like that tourist Water Duck tour boat that randomly pops up around the world — this mammojammer was meant to have a stove, oven, shower, dishwasher, sink, fridge, freezer, bathroom and enough room to sleep up to six people. Oh, and it probably would have needed ocean-loads of oil to run.

#3 Cross-Country Cruise Ship (1957)

Image: Mechanix Illustrated magazine, 1957

People always seem to be obsessed with making one machine do it all. Popular pulp and sci-fi illustrator Frank Tinsley came up with this “crazy, mixed-up amphibious train”  for Mechanix Illustrated magazine in 1957.

According to Tinsley, this “half bulldozer, half river boat… is only an adaptation of a vehicle [then] being operated experimentally by the Army”. Would it be easier just to change from a boat to an actual train with ready-laid tracks? Yep, probably.

#4 Your future holiday home (1957)

Image: Provided / Budget Direct

Automobile designer James R. Powers (the same guy who invented the 1961 Thunderbird) came up with his idea of what a future luxury holiday home would look like in 1957.

See Also
Alex looking off towards the beach in the Gold Coast

He’s not entirely off from what you see at fancy hotels today either — there’s an underwater observation deck, a dining balcony that doubles as a helipad and flying/driving ‘airphibious’ vehicles to get everyone there.

#5 NASA space colonies (1977)

Image: NASA

Finally turning away from an underwater obsession, NASA in the late 70s became sure space colonisation would be the next ‘big thing’ and came up with the (very grand) sketches to go with it.

These colonies would be where workers and their families could live and relax, while they completed their work of off-world mining and zero-gravity giant spacecraft manufacturing. It still might be a thing that happens when we destroy earth, but will it look as lush as this? My non-scientific suspicions say probably not.

(Lead Image: Provided / Budget Direct)

Scroll To Top