Fifty Years Hence, or What May Be in 1943

Robert Grimshaw


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"Fifty Years Hence" is a quasi-fictional work by Robert Grimshaw, a professional engineer, with the intent of making a serious prediction of America's technological future, using engineering knowledge from his time in 1892.

The fictional narrator is 21-year-old Francis Ainsworth. At the Masonic Lodge in New York City, Francis hears a fascinating lecture, based in Masonic mysticism, by one Roger Brathwaite. Francis befriends Brathwaite, who shares some of his future-prediction methods based on graphical engineering, and a lends him a manuscript predicting conditions in America in 50 years. However, before the friendship can flower, Brathwaite is mysteriously killed in a fire at his home, which also destroys his lifetime’s worth of records and predictive methods. All that Francis has left is the borrowed manuscript, which is reproduced in the novel.

Some predictions, by 1943: a new phonetic language would be designed by philologists and spoken everywhere in the world (see Esperanto); typewriting machines would be ubiquitous and would communicate instantly across the world; all "books of record" would be written on machine only; telegraphs and facsimile documents would be transmitted by wire or wirelessly and would include color pictures; wireless telegraph and telephone with ships at sea and connecting all cities in the world; seamless concrete homes; water & gas & electricity utilities; electric street lighting;...

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