How Tom Selleck predicted the future of tech

August 12, 2011, 6:07 PM UTC
Fortune

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.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZb0avfQme8&w=425&h=349]

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.