Andy Goes Back To The Future

How CBS News Predicted The Future In 1986

This weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News correspondent Andy Rooney originally aired on April 30, 2006.



CBS News has a good library of old film and tape. Just for fun, we got out the CBS Evening News broadcasts for 20 years ago this week to see what was happening in 1986. Well, we ran into something we weren't looking for. They did a five-part series predicting what things would be like in 15 years – in 2001.

We were curious about how good their predictions were:

"They predict by 2001 the Russians could land on Mars," Dan Rather said.

It would be funny if Martians got to earth first wouldn't it? Would they be illegal aliens?

"Los Angeles will be the nation's largest metropolis in 2001," another prediction went.

Wrong. New York is still the largest.

"The fastest growing, Phoenix," Rather read.

Wrong again. The fastest growing cities are Los Angeles and Las Vegas. I'd like to move to the slowest growing city.

"By 2001 we could be producing cows the size of elephants and pigs five feet tall," was one prediction.

It would be some pork chop!

"The car will be commanded by the operator's voice. And you could sit back and the ask the car to start and it will start," one prediction said.

"So what we now call the bathroom will take on a whole new meaning. with whirlpools, saunas and exercise equipment it becomes an entertainment center," another predicted.

We still call it the bathroom. You never hear anyone at CBS say, "Pardon me. I have to go to the entertainment center."

"By 2001, Mexico City could well be the world's largest with perhaps 35 million," it was predicted.

Wrong. It's 2006 and Mexico City is still only 20 million. Thirty-five million Mexicans may have come to the United States - that's what they're thinking of.

"Drugs will unclog our arteries, prevent baldness and cure alcoholism and phobias. Cancer researchers predict near victory over such major killers as lung, breast and colon cancers," was one prediction.

They're always talking about a cure for cancer but they never really find one.

"Prediction, Americans will work just six hours a day just 30 hours a week," another prediction went.

Wrong, I don't know anyone that works only six hours a day.

"The experts predict by the year 2001, 108,000 Americans will live to be at least 100," was another prediction.

There were only 55,000 people a 100 old last year.

CBS News doesn't predict the future anymore. It's hard enough for them to tell us what happened today – forget about tomorrow.
By Andy Rooney
  • Daniel Schorn

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