The World in the Year 2000, as predicted by 19th-century postcards by Jean-Marc Côté

In 1899, a group of French illustrators led by Jean-Marc Côté was tasked with imagining what France would look like in the year 2000. A series of futuristic images published in France in 1899, 1900, 1901, and 1910 were originally printed on cards within cigarette/cigar boxes and later as postcards.

The illustrations appeared in newspapers and magazines around Europe and America, revealing an alternate version of the future filled with zeppelins and submarines, wireless telephones, and air conditioning. However, their predictions fell short of the mark, failing to go far enough outside their present technological environment. The artist felt that clothing designs had already achieved perfection and that no technological progress or cultural change would ever alter women’s long skirts, complicated bodices, and complex hairstyles.

The first series of cards were produced for the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris, and there are at least 87 known examples created by French artists. The cards designed by Jean-Marc Côté were never actually published due to financial issues, only coming to light many years later after science-fiction author Isaac Asimov found a set and published them in 1986, with commentary, in the book Futuredays: A Nineteenth Century Vision of the Year 2000.

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