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June 24, 2017

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Predictions from the 1964 World's Fair

NEW YORK -- The New York World's Fair of 1964 introduced 51 million visitors to a range of technological innovations and predictions during its run. Some of those ideas have turned out to be commonplace in our world.

What they had right:

— "Picturephone": Bell System introduced this innovation, which allowed people to see whom they were calling. It didn't go over well at the time, but it's a concept that's an everyday part of our lives now in apps such as Skype and Facetime.

— Personal use of the computer: Several pavilions had exhibits set up where visitors could ask computers for information and get responses in seconds.

— Robotics: Walt Disney's "It's a Small World" exhibit introduced robotic animation in which characters sing, speak and make lifelike gestures such as smiles and blinks. It's still in use in theme parks and movies today.

— Ford Mustang: The two-seater sports car with its long hood and short rear deck was officially unveiled at the World's Fair and immediately became popular. It has remained in production ever since.

— Touch-tone phones: Originally introduced at the Seattle World's Fair in 1962, this was still the first time many visitors were exposed to this technology.

What they had wrong:

— Colonies on the moon, underwater and in Antarctica: The "Futurama 2" ride from General Motors, which featured images of people living in places where they clearly don't.

— Paved-over rainforests: Another image from "Futurama 2" featured a machine that used a laser to cut through the rainforests and left behind paved roads.

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