This man predicted in 1953 that there would be a smartphone: ‘No escape possible from telephones’


In 2022, the smartphone is indispensable. In fact, take them away for a week and there will be global panic. Something that no one could have imagined nearly 70 years ago. Or is it?

In 1953, an article appeared in the Tacoma News Tribune in which Mark R. Sullivan, president and director of Pacific Telephone and Telegraph, was damn close to current reality. This man already knew how to predict functionalities such as FaceTime.

Smartphone predicted as early as 1953

A whopping 41 years before the first smartphone ever was announced, Mark R. Sullivan looked to the future. Open Culture, a website that focuses on history, among other things, shares a newspaper article from 1953. The Tacoma News Tribune told how Mark R. Sullivan, then the director of Pacific Telephone and Telegraph, already knew how to predict functionalities such as FaceTime. “I think users will be able to see each other whenever they want to, when they talk,” he said in the article.

“There will be no escape from phones in the future,” he said. And man, was he right. “If further developed, the telephone will be carried by an individual at all times. Maybe in the same way we carry our watch with us today.” Sullivan conceived this idea the year Steve Jobs, the man who made the smartphone a huge success, was only two years old. “And who knows! Maybe it can even translate one language into another!”

The prediction. Photo: Open Culture

It is special, because what sounds very normal now was gigantic future music at the time. To be clear, Mark R. Sullivan suggested these ideas some 54 years before the unveiling of the first iPhone and 57 years before the introduction of FaceTime. Has his prediction been able to steer the future a bit? That opportunity is certainly there. But it is impressive that in 2022 it is all reality.

Sullivan wasn’t the only one

Mark R. Sullivan’s prediction is special, but he hasn’t been the only one to do it over the years. For example, in 1964, eleven years later, a very good picture was painted by Isaac Asimov. The science-fiction author wrote about a communication device in The New York Times. In his opinion, this device had a screen, with which you could see and speak to people at the same time. In addition, it was also possible to use the screen for studying documents and reading books.

For about 58 years we have had smartphones that make this possible and, in some cases, can even be turned into tablets. Cheers, gentlemen!

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This man predicted in 1953 that there would be a smartphone: ‘No escape possible from telephones’