10. Roger Ebert
Predicted: Modern displays and movie streaming in 1987
In 1987, beloved movie critic Roger Ebert gave an interview for Omni magazine in which he was asked a pretty simple question: how did he think the competition between movies and television would shape up in the future? His answer probably sounded like that of a chin-scratching intellectual then; it sounds like the words of a damn prophet today:
“We will have high-definition, wide-screen television sets and a push-button dialing system to order the movie you want at the time you want it. You’ll not go to a video store but instead order a movie on demand and then pay for it. Videocassette tapes as we know them now will be obsolete both for showing prerecorded movies and for recording movies. People will record films on 8mm and will play them back using laser-disk/CD technology . . . With this revolution in delivery and distribution, anyone, in any size town or hamlet, will see the movies he or she wants to see.”
Now, “push-button dialing” is a phrase that seems rather of its day, but consider the rest. “On Demand” cable barely existed; cable TV in general was in its infancy. The technology that would enable video streaming wasn’t just in its infancy, it was embryonic. Laser Discs and CDs existed, but a hybrid of the two—DVDs—wouldn’t for about a decade, and did anyone even know what “high-definition” or “wide-screen” meant back then? This was a time when the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen in widescreen home video releases were often thought by consumers to be a defect. We would love to hear Ebert’s answer to the same question today.