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9 Incredible Historical Predictions That Actually Came True

Updated: Jul. 28, 2021

What do Wi-Fi, the moon landing, and debit cards have in common? They were all prophesied by great thinkers more than a century before they came into existence.

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Nikola Tesla predicted Wi-Fi and mobile phones in 1909

More than 60 years before the first cell phone and 90 years prior to the introduction of “wi-fi,” Nikola Tesla, a gifted electrical engineer and former right-hand man of Thomas Edison, told the New York Times, “It will soon be possible to transmit wireless messages all over the world so simply that any individual can carry and operate his own apparatus.”
But, there’s one town that still doesn’t have Wi-Fi—meet Green Bank, West Virginia where you can’t make a call or send a text on your cell phone. You’ll wish these historical facts weren’t actually true.

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Jules Verne imagined a man on the moon in 1865

More than a century before Neil Armstrong took “one giant step for mankind,” science fiction author Jules Verne wrote about two men bound for the moon aboard a projectile fired from a cannon in his novel From Earth to the Moon. Verne even set the rocket launch in Florida, now the site of Kennedy Space Center.

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Ray Bradbury foretold earbuds in 1953

In a poetic passage in Fahrenheit 451 that would make Steve Jobs jealous, Ray Bradbury described the now ubiquitous miniature headphones this way: “And in her ears the little seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind.” These famous moments in history never actually happened.

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Nostradamus predicted the Great Fire of London in 1666

French apothecary Nostradamus published several collections of prophecies during his lifetime, predicting, in sometimes ambiguous language, world events from the death of Henry II to Hitler’s reign. One of his most explicit forecasts involved the Great Fire of London that consumed the city in 1666. Nostradamus wrote: “The blood of the just will be lacking in London,/Burnt up in the fire of ’66:/The ancient Lady will topple from her high place,/Many of the same sect will be killed.”

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credit card
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Edward Bellamy envisaged the debit card in 1888

Debit cards became widely used in the late 1980s, but science fiction writer Edward Bellamy described a similar concept in his utopian novel Looking Backward, 2000-1887. In chapter IX, Dr. Leete explains to Mr. West that in the new world “A credit corresponding to his share of the annual product of the nation is given to every citizen…and a credit card issued him with which he procures at the public storehouses, whatever he desires.” These are the history questions people always get wrong.

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halleys comet

Mark Twain forecast his own death in 1909

In 1909, Mark Twain’s biographer Albert Bigelow Paine quoted Twain saying, “I came in with Halley’s comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t. The Almighty said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'” He died on April 21, 1910, the day after the comet returned.

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Robert Boyle predicted organ transplants in the 1660s

Nearly 300 years before the first major organ transplant in 1954, Robert Boyle, known as the father of modern chemistry, predicted in a note in his personal journal “the cure of diseases by… transplantation.” Experts also credit Boyle for foresight about LSD, aspirin, and sleeping pills. These are the history lessons your teacher lied to you about.

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Arthur C. Clark imagined the iPad in 1968

Clark’s futuristic novel 2001: A Space Odyssey predated the iPad by 42 years, but his description of the “newspad” was spot-on: “[Floyd] would plug his foolscap-size Newspad into the ship’s information circuit and scan the latest reports from Earth. The postage-stamp-size rectangle would expand until it neatly filled the screen. When he had finished, he would flash back to the complete page and select a new subject for detailed examination.”

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John Brunner predicted the 2010 American president in 1968

In one of the eeriest predilection examples, in John Brunner’s novel Stand on Zanzibar, America in 2010 is run by a President Obomi. Next, check out these astonishing facts you never knew about all 50 states.