The future as seen by Apple in 1987

This is definitely worth 7 minutes of your time, but it’s a little hard to explain. Apparently in 1987 Apple did a video from the point of view of 10 years in the future (in other words they pretended it was 1997.) This video talked about all the successes Apple enjoyed in the 1990s and how the future had really come to pass. Seriously, this thing is awesome.

Here’s what makes it hilarious: Apple’s life in the real 1990s was nothing like this.

A little bit of actual history

The 1990s were Apple’s worst decade and it was easy to imagine back then that the company would fail any day. John Sculley, the CEO featured in this video, was forced out in 1993. Instead of succeeding, the company recorded its worst financial results ever in 1996. Instead of innovating, the company had been reduced to selling largely anonymous beige boxes running software that looked much as it had in 1984.

It wasn’t until the late 1990s when Steve Jobs returned to the company that we started seeing the kind of innovation that drove the company for its next 20 years: iMac, iPod, iPhone hadn’t been invented, not in the imaginary 1997 of this video or in the real 1997 either.

So, so wrong, but almost right

The “future” of 1997 still included payphones, but they were replaced by Macs. In the real 1997, there were still payphones. This video shows a Mac that’s actually built into goggles, which never actually happened and no one actually wants. It shows the future of digital assistants but instead of turning on your lights, apparently they take care of your mental health. There’s some sort of rudimentary understanding of online life but it seems to be centered around electronic newspapers.

All I can say is, guessing the future is hard and getting it wrong is easy. I don’t imagine that this video was ever supposed to see the light of day. It was probably prepared for some sort of internal presentation. But now that it’s out there, all we can do is laugh, right?

Apple in 2027

Do I dare make predictions for Apple in 2027? The company has stronger financials than ever,.<ost experts agree the magic of the Steve Jobs left when he passed. After several years of pushing its watch on us, it’s managed to take hold among the senior set. They see it as a stylish replacement for that Life Call necklace. Probably not what Apple is shooting for but hey, it’s something. Tablets faded as quickly as they came and other manufacturers have caught up with Apple’s phones in quality and ease of use.

So where will Apple be in 10 years? I think they’re trying to find that next new innovation, but I don’t think they will. Apple will still be around, but I think that the days when they were the most exciting company in the world are behind them. Not as far behind as 1997, but still pretty far behind.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.