How Tom Selleck predicted the future of tech

August 12, 2011, 6:07 PM UTC

FORTUNE — These freakishly prophetic AT&T (T) TV spots from 1993 have been online for a few years. But All Things Digital noticed them today, and I’m sure many of us hadn’t seen them since they first ran, if ever. Spokesman Tom Selleck makes a total of 12 predictions, posed as questions — and every single one of them has come true. “Have you ever watched the movie you wanted to, the moment you wanted to?” Selleck asks. “You will,” he answers.


In some cases, the parallels to present reality are breathtaking, such as the depiction of GPS, teleconferencing and tablets (though it’s used for “faxing.”)

There might be a few quibbles, but they are only that. And even in the quibble-worthy cases, reality is actually better than the prediction. The online book-reading looks pretty cumbersome compared to the Kindle (AMZN), and the automatic toll-booth payment looks dangerously clumsy compared to today’s electronic collection systems.

The least accurate prediction is when Selleck asks “Have you ever tucked your baby in from a phone booth?” A phone booth? Bwha-ha-ha-ha!

This was AT&T, so of course there were phone booths. Which brings us to the one truly inaccurate prediction of the bunch: For every case of advanced technology, the spots promised that “the company that will bring it to you” would be AT&T. Turned out, not so much.