Around 1900, many inventions revolutionized the world. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell developed the telephone, one of the most world-changing inventions ever made. Thomas Edison improved the electric light bulb to a long-lasting, inexpensive device (1878), invented the phonograph (1877). Karl Benz developed the first modern motorised car, which was first built in 1885. The Lumière brothers created the first motion picture projector or cinematograph, which they patented in 1895. Guglielmo Marconi built a wireless telegraphy system based on Hertzian waves and patended the radio in 1896. Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin's ideas for an airship were developed in 1893, whereas the Wright brothers invented and flew the first airplane in 1903.
"En L'An 2000"
No wonder that at the turn of the 19th century, the possibilities for the future seemed endless. This influenced many artists - just think about the immensely popular science fiction novels by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. In that time, collecting trade cards was popular among consumers. In the period 1899-1901, either a cigarette or toy company in France hired several graphic artists to create a series of illustrations called "En L'An 2000", on which they depicted what they thought everyday life would look like in the year 2000. Unfortunately, the company got out of business before the cards were distributed, leaving us with only one complete set of about 50 cards, that is now in the hands of Isaac Asimov. Luckily, he published a book about them. I found some trade cards by a chocolate company called Louit that seemed to have distributed cards with the futuristic pictures in a later year.
A striking amount of the pictures feature flying vehicles, and thinking about how much happens in the sky, the people back then had a good view on the future. Even though postmen themselves don't fly, tons of mail is being distributed via air. Videoconferencing was foreseen, as well as aerial battles and breeding machines. We still can't walk on water, though water skiing comes close. I collected all the cards on a Pinterest board: Victorian Future Visions
Hildebrand's trade cards
In the same period, the German cacao company Hildebrand published a set of twelve trade cards depicting life in 2000. Hildebrands cards shows moving sidewalks, live broadcasting of theater performances in the living room, personal flying machines, a good weather machine (if only...!) and roofs over cities - as can be seen below.