People called Nikola Tesla a futurist, but maybe "psychic" would have been more accurate.
The inventor died in 1943 -- and would have been 159 years old on Friday -- but a look back at his musings reveals a startlingly accurate description of our modern life. In a 1926 interview with Collier's magazine reproduced by Twenty-First Century Books -- titled, amazingly, "When Woman Is Boss" -- Tesla basically predicted the smartphone.
Take a look (emphasis ours):
When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.
We shall be able to witness and hear events--the inauguration of a President, the playing of a world series game, the havoc of an earthquake or the terror of a battle--just as though we were present.
When the wireless transmission of power is made commercial, transport and transmission will be revolutionized. Already motion pictures have been transmitted by wireless over a short distance. Later the distance will be illimitable, and by later I mean only a few years hence. Pictures are transmitted over wires--they were telegraphed successfully through the point system thirty years ago. When wireless transmission of power becomes general, these methods will be as crude as is the steam locomotive compared with the electric train.
He also had a pretty interesting view on women:
The female mind has demonstrated a capacity for all the mental acquirements and achievements of men, and as generations ensue that capacity will be expanded; the average woman will be as well educated as the average man, and then better educated, for the dormant faculties of her brain will be stimulated to an activity that will be all the more intense and powerful because of centuries of repose. Woman will ignore precedent and startle civilization with their progress.
It is true that more women than men complete college and graduate school. Way to be prescient, Tesla!
The man's uncannily accurate predictions have certainly been documented before. But, if you were looking for something to think over on the occasion of his 159th birthday -- perhaps while dining on Tesla coil cake -- the entire Collier's article is well worth a read.