In 1926, Tesla predicted the portable TV

In 1926 Nicola Tesla gave an interview to Collier's Weekly in which he predicted something that sounds remarkably like portable television. Perhaps most interestingly, he mentions that this technology would be used to watch war unfold, "just as though we were present."

NEW YORK, Jan 25 - (AP) - Application of radio principles will enable people by carrying a small instrument in their pockets to see distant events like the sorceress of the magic crystal fairy tales and legends, Nikola Tesla, electrical inventor, predicted today. Mr. Tesla, who on several occasion has tried to communicate with the planet Mars, made his predictions in an interview published in the current issue of Collier's Weekly.

"We shall be able to witness the inauguration of a president, the playing of a world's series baseball game, the havoc of an earthquake, or a battle just as though we were present," Mr. Tesla said.

I'm fascinated by the rise of the moving image during the first half of the 20th century. In the 1920's Thomas Edison was predicting that movies would replace textbooks, D.W. Griffith predicted that motion pictures would overtake the printed word, and Cecille B. Demille said that as the cost of camera equipment came down home movies would soon be produced by average Americans.

Every generation believes that they live in a special age of technological progress, but it is quite humbling to read about the rise of electricity, motion pictures, radio or television and trying to imagine what it must have been like to experience those things for the first time. Without belittling the accomplishments and enormous potential of the internet, I dare say those things were more jaw-dropping than the first time I popped in an AOL CD-ROM.

Article source: January 26, 1926 Nevada State Journal. Photo of Nicola Tesla: Library of Congress.

The Paleo-Future blog was started by Matt Novak in January of 2007. Matt has since become an accidental expert on past visions of the future, and has amassed an enormous library of media related to the study of retro-futurism. Matt can be reached at matt@paleofuture.com or followed on Twitter.