Typography of the (Past) Future

A phenomenon which has long fascinated me are visions of the future from the past. Since we’re now well into the second decade of the 21st century, we’re living in what has been considered the future for, well, all time up until now, I suppose. More to the point, though, when I was a kid–which was squarely in the time of the Apollo space missions–there was a good deal of speculation about what the future might hold, and it was entirely implicit that anything after the year 2000 was definitely the future. So, now that we’re living in what used to be the future, it’s interesting to look back at what we used to consider futuristic. The 1939 World’s Fair is possibly my favorite example, but obviously any number of science-fiction books and films are also artifacts of speculation. The film 2001: A Space Odyssey was possibly the most influential on me since I saw it at a somewhat tender age and it was (I think) the first sci-fi film I ever saw. (In fact, the first time I was taken to it–by my parents, at a drive-in, when it first came out–was too tender an age. The opening scenes of early humans frightened me so badly that my parents had to take me home.)

Another thing that has long fascinated me, for no readily apparent reason, is typography. Don’t ask me why, but I like fonts. When we were teenagers, my cousin and I used to pore over sheets of Letraset transfer lettering in art-supply schools. Later, when the Macintosh came along, I somewhat compulsively collected fonts. That habit eventually waned, mostly because packages like Corel Draw come with vast libraries of fonts.

Hence I am entirely delighted to find the Typeset In The Future website, a blog devoted to, yes, visions of the future and the typography they use. The first entry is, yes, about 2001. I now wonder whether my fondness of the typeface Futura has something to do with my early exposure to it in this film.

As an aside, consider this: are there any past visions of the future which included anything resembling the web as we know it today?

And as a second aside, how old do you have to be in order to remember drive-in movies, or Letraset transfer lettering?

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