How 1940s US whisky ads predicted the mobile phone, the 3D movie, videoconferencing, and sports bars... and a bunch of stuff that hasn't even happened yet.

Back in the mid-1940s, US brand Seagram's advertised its VO Canadian whisky with a series of extremely manly magazine ads about 'men who plan beyond tomorrow' - unspecified futuristic thinkers who liked the fact that Seagram's was patient enough to age VO for six years.

No, it doesn't make much sense to me, either. But the ads, each of which depicted a different miracle that would transform post-war America, are glorious.

They're entertaining when they sort-of-accurately predict scenarios that eventually came to be, such as the rise of the mobile phone.

And they're even more so when they marvel at wonders-to-be such as coin-operated streetcorner fax machines. Herewith, some highlights as they appeared in LIFE magazine - click the dates to see the issues with the ads at Google Books.

Perfected combo television & radio telephone

February 1943

'Perfected television and radio telephone combined!' This is supposedly a Chicago businessman using a videoconferencing system (with colour screen, yet) to talk to his rep in London.

But I could swear that the art shows Richard M Nixon conspiring with J Edgar Hoover.

It's pretty much like Skype, except for the fact that the 1940s conferencing gadgets are way neater looking than any modern PC.

3D movies

June 1943

Nine years before the first 3D movie boom and forty-six years before Avatar, Seagram's told whisky drinkers that they'd go to 3D movies "more thrilling than any you ever dreamed of!".

This being 1943, the movie shown involves fighter jets soaring above the audience and soldiers stomping right through it. I believe that the person to the left dressed like Flash Gordon is an usher, not part of the spectacle... but you never know.

NEXT PAGE: Harness power of tomorrow

  1. They were forward thinking in the 1940s
  2. Harness power of tomorrow
  3. The portable radio telephone
  4. The office of tomorrow
  5. Shopping comfort
  6. Top stories & news events as you dine
  7. Deserts will bloom through atomic power