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Something — a character design, a building, whatever — used to be someone's idea of futuristic. Nowadays, though, it ironically has a quaint sort of datedness to it more reminiscent of the era the work came from (or imitates, in case the zeerust is deliberate). Also sometimes called "Retro-Futuristic."
Sometimes the datedness is a bit more subtle. It's possible that the prediction turned out to be technologically or aesthetically correct (or at least on the right track), but the prediction still fails because of the would-be prophet's implicit assumption that social values will be the same in the future as in his or her own time (as demonstrated in the page image).
Gets its name and definition from The Meaning of Liff by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, a book of neologisms concocted by the two. Not to be confused with the South African town of the same name (Adams and Lloyd mostly used actual place names for their words).
Tropes commonly associated with Zeerust:
- Food Pills
- Flying Car
- Jet Pack
- No New Fashions in the Future
- Raygun Gothic
- Retro Rocket
- Robot Buddy
- Science Marches On
- Starship Luxurious
- Technology Marches On
- Tin Can Robot
- Video Phone (not so much nowadays)
- We Will Not Have Pockets in the Future
Sometimes Zeerust is present in Retraux form.
May lead to Zeerust Canon over time. Compare The Aesthetics of Technology, Crystal Spires and Togas, I Want My Jetpack, Hollywood History, Punk Punk, Schizo-Tech, Science Marches On, Twenty Minutes Into the Future, Retro Universe, Our Graphics Will Suck in the Future. When the creators actually predict what the future holds correctly, then it's Life Imitates Art.
- A glaring example in material written before the 2000s is the lack of networked computers, email, and ubiquitous cell phones. Many authors/screenwriters bet on communications remaining difficult, expensive, and largely tied to fixed terminals. Some projects got this right better than others.
- Some authors correctly predicted that helicopters (referred to as 'copters as opposed to choppers) not Flying Cars would be commonplace, but not as common as they expected (they have not, for instance, replaced the family automobile).
Anime & Manga
- Project B Lue Earth SOS purposely invokes this, since it's a throwback to '50s science fiction TV. The series takes place in an alternate version of the 1990s and the technology and setting is made to display this trope due to it being how someone from the 50s would imagine the 90s.
- Mobile Suit Gundam: Practically every iteration of bears some vestiges of the era in which it was made, despite the fact that most series occur sometime around the 22nd-24th Century. Noteworthy examples include the bellbottom-esque uniform pants on the 1979 original series, the 80s-style clothing in Gundam ZZ (made in 1986), or the prominence of boxy desktop computers in Gundam Wing (made in 1995).
- The majority of UC Gundam series have the ubiquitous appearance of floppy disks, even ones made during the age of Compact Discs and Laserdisc, like Gundam 0083 and The 08th MS Team.
- According to The 08th MS Team, the Apsalus, a flying weapon of mass destruction, uses the same hard- and software components as a mid 1990s desktop PC, such as a 6X86MX CPU from the long-defunct manufacturer Cyrix. Along with Direct X 6, you can kinda tell why the first 2 versions of the Apsalus ended up crash landed.
- In Gundam ZZ one of the characters in a scene is listening to music on a Walkman
- The theatrical recap trilogy of Zeta Gundam which extensively uses footage from the 1985 TV series adds laptops and more futuristic computer displays, in an attempt to renew the futurism.
- G Gundam has a scene where Master Asia holds up a floppy, claiming it contains vast amounts of information.
- The original Bubblegum Crisis, released in 1987 and set in 2032, is similar: clothes and hairstyles are very 1980s; car-mounted telephones exist, but not hand-held ones, meaning characters make calls from phone boxes with video screens, and the Soviet Union and East Germany still exist.
- However it is worth noting that even though they completely missed the internet revolution, many of the mecha designs, especially the hard suits, still look very futuristic.
- Yoshiyuki Tomino's Space Runaway Ideon faces the issue of its protagonist having perhaps the largest afro in anime. There is also the silliness of the alien race, the Buff Clan, wearing futuristic versions of Elvis Presley's wardrobe, which were apparently intentionally done as a semi-tribute to the over-the-top outfits worn by every evil overlord in the 1960s sci-fi B-movies. Elvis Presley's outfits in Real Life tended to border on Space Clothes anyway.
- Most of the sci-fi works of Osamu Tezuka. The original Astro Boy, being created in the early 1950s, has a lot of this, but not as much as you'd think. Tezuka wanted his readers to be able to relate to the characters and setting, so he usually only added things like robots and spaceships when they were important to the story. Ultimately, though, this results in what looks like Schizo-Tech, with ludicrously Zeerusty spacecrafts and intelligent robots that run on vacuum tubes existing in what otherwise appears to be mid-20th century Japan, even though the series is supposed to take place in the early 21st. There's an amusing bit of Lampshade Hanging of this in the introduction to one of the paperback collections, where a character complains to Tezuka, saying that since it's the future, he should be wearing Space Clothes instead of a threadbare old suit and living in a high tech space colony instead of a crummy one-bedroom apartment.
- Oddly enough, the subsequent remakes managed to be even more Zeerusty than the original. The 1980s version tried to depict a more futuristic world where technology was more integrated into modern life, with the result being that the technology's greater presence makes the show's datedness even more obvious and jarring to modern viewers. Even though they got the part about more people using computers right, the computers look totally anachronistic; the futuristic architecture and flying cars they use are often hideously impractical; and all the robots that don't look identical to humans look like a cross between old Kenner toys and outdated computer parts. The latest anime from the early '00s is more self aware about this and deliberately goes with an over-the-top retro-futuristic style similar to that used in the earlier Tezuka-inspired film Metropolis. In most ways this is an improvement, but sadly, it sacrifices most of the down to Earth charm that arguably helped make the original such a huge hit.
- Pluto, an Ultimate Universe remake of Astro Boy by Naoki Urasawa, stakes out a comfortable middle ground here. Most of the robots look like bigger & better versions of ASIMO, modern conveniences that are just now starting to catch on like debit cards and flash-drives are ubiquitous, Holographic Terminals are fairly common and most of the automobiles look like larger versions of modern Smart Cars. On the other hand Urasawa has restored some of the more domestic 20th-century touches that gave the original its charm. Ordinary things like houses, cafes and flowershops look pretty much like they always have. He also manages to throw in a few bits of retro-futurism that are even sillier than the original, such as high-tech-looking skyscrapers so huge that they can fit entire gated communities onto their roofs.
- Abundant in Mazinger Z, evident in many of the vehicles and SuperRobots in the series. A case that stands out is an episode in which Baron Ashura captures and analyzes Aphrodite A, only for the disc with the data to be destroyed. It's a good thing the villains didn't have e-mail.
- There are other examples in Uchuu Senkan Yamato, but the craziest is Desler's use of a gold-colored mid-20th century earth telephone to argue with Starsha. Gamilon General Lysis composes his report on his first encounter with the Argo/Yamato on an alien typewriter.
- Serial Experiments Lain's CRT monitors, 90s-like GUIs and BeOS. Also notable is the Dreamcast-like console seen in the OP animation, and the many computers that seem to be running some version of NeXTSTEP, the direct predecessor to OSX.
- Lain doesn't take place in the future, however, but in "Present day, present time! Hahahahahaa!" I.e. some kind of alternative reality that may or may not be turned into the world that we know at the end of the show.
- Lampshaded in the 2008 anime Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne, where a character in 1991 boasts extensively about the cutting-edge advanced technology of her 486 PC.
- There's something of a meta, in-universe example in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's. The character Vizor/Dark Glass(es) is from an unspecified point in the future (there seems to be some indication it is about fifty years in the future), as are several other characters, such as the Three Emperors of Yliaster. Many of these cards have by now been released as cards for the trading card game. Aside from the universe-destroying time paradox this has inevitably caused, the cards...don't stack up to what Power Creep would dictate.
- Related, but not exactly Zeerust, The character Z-one uses Trap Cards that can be activated directly from the hand, rather than set first. The main characters all react with shock. One of said characters uses a card that can be activated from the hand.
- The Scott McCloud comic Zot features the world of the present day, and the Alternate History wherein every cool thing thought of in the early 20th century came true.
- DC's 1980s Star Trek comics managed a level of datedness filmed Star Trek never did. One issue showed the Starfleet Records Division, with filing cards. The show was fairly consistent in showing us that we would finally have the paperless office by the 23rd century. The Gold Key Comics were just as dated, technology extrapolated from The Sixties even though the comics were published well into The Seventies.
- Dean Motter's works — including Terminal City series, Mr. X, and Electropolis — use this trope, with a heavy dose of Genre Savvy and a pronounced tendency to pun. Character names like Tess LaCoyle and Erik "the Red" Haring are among the less egregious.
- Strikeforce Morituri takes place in the late 21st century, yet at one point an alien invader surreptitiously passes a message to one of the heroes via videocassette.
- Deliberately invoked in Chassis which is set in an alternate 1949, where World War Two never happened and there are Flying Cars.
- Have you ever used a phone booth with a video screen rather than just a cell phone? You Will. Many of the technologies featured in the ads did in fact come to pass, including turn-by-turn GPS, touchscreen tablets, wireless internet, and video-on-demand services — mostly in forms remarkably similar to the commercials' versions. The most out-of-date part is the assumption that AT&T would be the main carrier for all — or any — of these technologies. Almost every one of those technologies exists in pretty much the form depicted in the commercial but most of them are either non-centralized or connected to the public Internet; the only way AT&T would make any money off of any of them would be as a patent holder.
- Amusingly, Face Time (a video conferencing app for the iPhone) can't even work with AT&T's own connection, instead relying on an outside Wi-Fi signal. Commercials by rival T-Mobile never pass up a chance to point out this fact. Apparently, You Will talk on a phone with a video screen... AT&T just won't provide the service.
- The AT&T that currently competes as a carrier of these services isn't even the AT&T that made the ad; "The New AT&T" consists of former "Baby Bells" who absorbed their ex-parent (With a different logo).
- And AT&T's mobile division is Cingular, just renamed.
- Telmex (a telephone company in Mexico) heralded in 2008 its brand-new video phone service by airing a "Homage to the Video Calls", which was basically a montage of every single "TV phone" featured in a sci-fi movie. Except that one from Demolition Man.
- GRAB YOUR GARMIN, TAKE ON THE WOOORLD!!!
- Fritz Lang's Metropolis has vid-phones, with 1920-s style handsets. Much like Le Corbusier, the cars on the elevated freeways are all Model T's. The flying taxis are a mix of antique biplanes and Raygun Gothic zeppelins. It has ticker-tape machines and antique IBM devices instead of computers, of course.
- Intentionally invoked in the happy futuristic scenes in Meet the Robinsons, as opposed to the hat-dominated Dystopia.
- The Neo-fifties look of Robinsons is heavily influenced by Walt Disney's own personal Zeerust from 50 years ago.
- Star Wars features elements of this, but strangely, it's more used in the newer prequel trilogy than the original trilogy from the seventies/eighties. For example, Dex's diner looks like it's from the fifties. Then there's also the holograms, which have very poor reception and come only in black and white. Otherwise, the Cosmetically Advanced Prequel effect is in full force.
- Of course the newer trilogy has an outdated Zeerusty look - it's set a few decades in the past compared to the original. Old-fashioned elements like the diner are probably a Shout-Out to this trope's use on Earth.
- In the original, most of the Zeerust comes from computers, with HUDs in the ships' cockpits that look positively primitive by today's standards. The CoolShips still look pretty good though, with the appropriate remastering.
- Deliberate decisions made in the art, set, and costume design of the two sets of movies are the likely cause of this. The original movie was made on a b-picture budget, so they didn't have money for anything. (That's why Storm Trooper armor is white: It was cheaper than the black plastic Lucas originally wanted. Even Vader's helmet is actually dark brown in that movie.) They were also figuring out how to do the special effects as they went along. When Lucas got to make the prequel trilogy, he decided to make a lot of the art, set design, and costumes more complex because he was dealing with a much more sophisticated culture with more subtlety (as opposed to people who'd found themselves in a stifling dictatorship for a generation). Of course, since he now had the money for these things, it was also much easier.
- The movie trailer of Astro Boy looks a lot like setting of Meet the Robinsons.
- Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow (2004) is chock-a-block full of Zeerust — not surprising, given that that was the point of the whole exercise. There is a 1930's submersible with a radio-imager that can send pictures back to the Airborne Aircraft Carrier, giant bipedal robots wreck New York, and the hero's plane can go underwater. The entire movie is pretty much Rule of Cool. The film appears to be set in 1939 (The Wizard of Oz is still in theaters).
- Back to The Future: Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale wanted to avoid dealing with the future for this very reason, as they couldn't know what the future would really be like. However, when the ending of the first film left them with no choice, they made 2015 basically a cleaner and more colorful version of 1985 with a generous dose of Applied Phlebotinum (computerized waiters, flying cars, and weather control) thrown in. It was meant to be humorous, though. Back to The Future Part II was one of a few 80s movies and TV series that had incredibly ubiquitous fax machines in the near future. The alleyway recycling center with huge cubes of shrinkwrapped laserdiscs awaiting processing was utterly hilarious.
- The I Robot movie was nearly devoid of Zeerust: the Chicago from 2035 looks pretty much like the Chicago from 2007, the John Hancock Center and the Sears Tower are still there, and some of the characters live in plain-looking row houses. The differences: the L-train is replaced with a sleek, shiny monorail, there's a huge underground highway, Spooner drives an actual Audi prototype, and it seems like fossil fuels are not used anymore when Susan starts screaming while riding in Spooner's motorbike:
Susan: Please tell me this doesn't run on gasoline! Gas explodes, you know?
- Ironically, exploding cars in the news recently have been Chevy Volts, which are fully electric models.
- Demolition Man, which was an example of late 20th century Zeerust despite being a retelling of Brave New World, which was 1930s Zeerust.
- 2001: A Space Odyssey:
- HAL is a computer that can have a philosophical conversation and follow voice commands, but can't print plain text onto loose leaf paper.
- The novel has typewriters and office computers being used, along with "girl assistants".
- This article elaborates on both the Zeerust and accuracy.
- A curious example appears in Strange Days, which was filmed in 1995 and set in a futuristic Cyberpunk dystopia all the way in 1999. While obviously the mind-recording technology that formed the centerpiece of the movie's plot has never shown up, the main character's voice-transcribing answer machine is also not exactly the way that particular technology developed. Neither was Los Angeles quite the decaying urban nightmare just seconds away from exploding into all-out civil warfare in 1999. The fashions are also quite a bit more Cyberpunk than what really went down. You also have to wonder, with the invention of Napster in 1999 and the rise in popularity of file sharing since that year, why recorded memories aren't swapped online rather than illegally traded on discs by hand. Certainly the downloads would be massive, but think of the wealth of experiences!
- The film also shows only one countdown to midnight, that of the Pacific time zone, with associated partying; other time zones' celebrations are only acknowledged in a brief call-in radio conversation that plays in the background. When the actual end of 1999 came to pass, practically every TV on Earth was tuned to CNN, where they showed a different celebration on the hour, every hour, from everywhere from Kiribati to Antarctica. Not so provincial, after all.
- Silent Running features robots that can understand human speech, yet take their programming from cards that have to be welded together.
- The Island is mostly devoid of zeerust. It takes place in 2019 (released in 2005), where Los Angeles looks pretty much the same, except for efficient high-speed mass transit. Though the vehicles are pretty much all modern cars (no junkers). MSN runs a free database that allows you to look up anyone you need at booths, and the phones and computers are pretty much the same, albeit with more voice recognition software. However, for everything that is perfectly in place, something is off. The police have flying jet bikes with machine guns, tiny spiderbots can enter someone's body through their tear ducts to act as a tracking device (that leave through urination, despite being a bit.....uncomfortable), and, of course, giant underground colonies where sentient clones are raised for the wealthy as organ banks. All this is supposed to come about in ten years?! One thing they did get right though? The Xbox. In the movie, the characters are playing a fighting game with virtual avatars when all they do is pretend to fight themselves. When the movie came out, it was so futuristic it fit right in to the sci-fi environment. Now, with the Kinect - it's pretty much spot-on.
- Soylent Green. Nice arcade machine you got there, Shirl! The film is set in 2022, but Shirl plays a full-sized video game that looks like a crappy version of Asteroids.
- In Godzilla, Destroy All Monsters, the year's 1999. Rocket men, aliens that look like people, Mind Control signals, knockout gas, a nation devoted to containing monsters; must've been what Y2K was distracting us from.
- Blade Runner, which was made in 1982, thinks that in the year 2019 we'll have flying cars, skies so choked with pollution you never see the sun, artificial humans with implanted memories, and off-world colonies. Most of this still feels like a far-off possibility (except for maybe the pollution issue). All the interior decor resembles that of the late 1940s... while the streetlife resembles the East Village circa 1982.
The film's approach to the portrayal of urban architecture represents a significant aversion of the usually zeerust-prone approach found in older sci-fi, and was one of the earliest mainstream works to do so. While much older sci-fi assumes that the cities of the future would, at some point, be leveled and replaced with a sort of Corbusian wet-dream, Blade Runner depicted a convincingly jumbled combination of nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century architecture, which still looks quite reasonable today.
- Even the pollution issue is outdated, as the pollution in Los Angeles, while still among the highest in the country, has gone down considerably since the release of the film. (This may or may not be justified, depending on how closely it resembles the world of the source novel, where the pollution was due to "World War Terminus". Still, it doesn't look like a global war is on the cards.)
- Outdated in the United States maybe, but visit Beijing sometime...
- The film adaptation of Fahrenheit 451, directed by Francois Truffaut in 1966, features zeerust aplenty, notably a propeller-powered monorail commuter train (which was an actual French prototype at the time, but was never developed), antique-looking vehicles, interactive wall-mounted television sets and payphones with a weird design. Explained in that this was one of the first films where the director deliberately went for a Schizo-Tech look. Also, the jetpacks at the end.
- The film Starship Troopers suffered from this more than the book. In the film version, CRT monitors were prominent despite flat-panel monitors already having been invented and in production by the time the movie was made. To be fair, flat screens had been around awhile, but were expensive, and the directors had no way of knowing CRTs would fall out of favor so rapidly.
- Many 80s and 90s film and TV scifi has this problem. First nobody anticipated flatpanel displays, or if they did they found them too difficult/expensive/time-consuming to mock up; then everyone knew about them, but nobody could afford them and they were considered a "niche" product (which was fair, given that CRTs delivered a significantly superior image to LCD displays up until the last couple of years). Suddenly CRTs have vanished in the last five years to the point where you have great difficulty buying one, and basic flatpanel displays cost less than £100 a piece.
- The concept of the flat screen has been used in science fiction since at least the 1960s. This appears to have been a case of using "today's" technology in a movie about the future. This is a particularly sad example when you consider that the original book was written by a forward-thinking author.
- Other notable offenders include Total Recall with its ridiculously bulky CRT-based videophones.
- Intentionally used in Pixar's The Incredibles to give a timeless or time lost feel. It works rather well, especially when combined with that "Apple Store" sleek design.
- The opening visual communication from 22nd Century Earth Base Mission Control in Dark Star features reel to reel computers in the background.
- In A Clockwork Orange Alex plays Beethoven's 9th Symphony off of a microcassette tape, which looked pretty futuristic in the 1970's, but never caught on, and were replaced by the far superior compact disc.
- Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, Zenon: The Zequel and Zenon: Z3 (that take place from 2049-2054) have a lot of this (just look at the title of the first one), despite being made in 1999, 2001, and 2004 respectively.
- This  science fiction movie from Eastern Europe.
- The Planet of the Apes remake starts out on a futuristic spaceship, yet one from which trained apes are sent on scouting missions. Chimps did play a key role in old 1960s orbital exploration, but were only used to confirm that the space-borne environment wouldn't hamper the anthropoid brain or body, before human astronauts could take their place. Nowadays it's rodents, fish, and various invertebrates that are commonly sent into orbit, while far-flung surveying of the solar system is performed by robots: there's no point to launching apes anymore.
- It is amazing how they were able to build a fully functional RoboCop cyborg, while still using floppy disks.
- Terminator mostly avoids this with its depictions of futuristic tech we don't have yet... but see this xkcd strip.
- A strangely modern example appears in Men in Black: K shows J a tiny disc, explaining "it'll replace CD's soon." Back then, it looked like the logical next step in audio recording medium. But with the invention of the MP 3, it seems we skipped that "micro-disc" step.
- A Logic Named Joe is one of the most notable aversions. It was written in 1946, yet it revolves around a computer network strangely prophetic of the real-world Internet, complete with online pornography and content filters. At that time there were 6 working computers in the world. That said, it's still loaded with Zeerust - although they have a very modern monitor-and-keyboard interface, the eponymous "logics" run on a combination of relay switches and "cold" vacuum tubes, and can literally figure out anything.
- The Machine Stops was written in 1909, and has what is basically the internet, though with fixed terminals. Anyone can talk to anyone else on the planet through a screen. And given the state of human society in that story, the lack of portable devices is completely justified.
- The story seems to be remarkably zeerust-proof for the time being, though...
- In print, Robert A. Heinlein's early novels for younger readers all have an anachronistic "future 1950s" feel to the society, despite the presence of interplanetary travel, Mars colonies, nonhuman sentients, and a host of other technologies, concepts and discoveries one might think would change American society. In Have Space Suit - Will Travel, there are colonies on the Moon and the hero wins a used space suit in a contest... but the contest is held by the sole sponsor of a (typical) live TV program (a soap company), and the chronically unemployed town ne'er-do-well, "Ace" Quiggle, hangs out at the drugstore soda fountain. Drinking chocolate malts.
- Pretty much the best example is the fact that all his stories written before about 1970 feature things like flying cars, yet slide rulers are in use. He is not the only author, however, to fail to predict the pocket calculator.
- In one of the Tom Swift, Jr. books from the 50's and 60's, however, Tom developed a pocket computer on which he could do complex computations by tapping at its keys.
- In Rocketship Galileo, the eponymous spacecraft has an autopilot that is a shaped cam connected to the controls. Which are, in turn, connected to the damping rods in the nuclear reactor that makes up the ship's drive using mechanical linkages. There's also trans-Atlantic passenger and freight rockets instead of jets. And the existence of the U.N. police has abolished war. Heinlein had Nazis on the Moon too, but given that the book was written in 1947, that probably seemed like the least fantastic element.
- In Misfit, Andrew Jackson "Pinky" Libby, a lightning calculator as well as a math genius (the two often don't go together IRL), saves the day when the space-ship's sole calculator is on the fritz, gaining him the new nickname "Slipstick" for his supposed mental resemblance to a slide-rule. Earlier in the same story, Andrew saves his blasting team a lot of fix-up work when he notices an error the foreman made in computing the charge of nuclear explosive to use...which the foreman did with a slide-ruler.
- And Heinlein's supercomputer in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is intelligent (and sapient) enough to plan a full lunar revolution... but gives all of its calculations on long rolls of printed paper. Ironically, the book did accurately predict CGI acting. The supercomputer is also built on a 1950s scale, to the point that bugs (actual living bugs, mind you) are a threat to his hardware.
- Barry Malzberg was quoted as saying something to the effect that the richness and datedness in Heinlein's stories comes from R.A.H.'s '...understanding perfectly how the world worked in 1945.'
- In Starman Jones, FTL Travel is accomplished with the help of books containing table after table of pre-computed values---seemingly no electronic storage or look-up at all. The books didn't just contain look up tables for functions — they also contained the tables for converting between decimal and binary, as all the values had to be converted into binary before being entered into the computer by toggling switches to set the binary values, then reading the binary values from the display lights and converting them back into decimal to make them human-readable. This last is particularly strange, as computing devices that did decimal I/O with internal conversion for binary internals had existed for at least a decade when the novel was written.
- Logarithm tables show up for astrogation in every Heinlein story, as when he was writing them calculators did not exist, so people kept big long lists of the log and natural log of lots and lots of numbers handy for calculating.
- It's not merely a matter of changing technology, but of changing mindsets. His classic (and arguably finest) story All You Zombies, written not long after WWII, fails to anticipate that the horrifying events of that war would lead to very strict legislation about medical procedures and informed consent. His central character is placed under general anesthesia — and wakes to be informed, after the fact, that s/he has been subjected without consent to sex reassignment surgery. In our world such a character would not be relegated to a hand-to-mouth living writing confession stories, because he would sue the hospital and doctor into bankruptcy.
- His later works included bits as well. Stranger in A Strange Land implied data stored on magnetic tapes, missing the rise of hard disk drives. The tape recorder was powered by a tiny onboard nuclear reactor, and was described as "the size of a cigarette lighter," which likely meant the size of a Zippo, not the smaller disposable lighters used today. Essentially, it's a Zeerusted iPod.
- On the flipside you have Space Cadet, where the first thing that happens is that the teenage protagonist's cellphone goes off, his friend reminds him to get it and he's disappointed that it's his dad. Cutting-edge Science Fiction in 1948, the stuff of every Teen Drama Cold Open today.
- Used again by Heinlein in Between Planets with the added bonus that the protagonist (who is staying on a dude ranch in New Mexico) takes a call from the cell phone mounted in his horse's saddle!
- Rhysling, the hero of the short story "The Green Hills of Earth", was blinded in a reactor-room incident aboard an interplanetary spaceship. Whereupon his crew mates "passed the hat", and he was dumped in a strange spaceport to earn a living by busking: the narrator (looking back from an even more remote future) admits that no one would have thought ill of Rhysling if he'd settled for simple begging, since "there was no way then to restore a man's sight"; in a future where planet-to-planet travel is routine, Heinlein failed to anticipate technological advancements that would increase employment opportunities for blind people (he also apparently failed to anticipate workers' compensation).
- In The Puppet Masters, the main character is a secret agent who has a one-way phone (incoming calls only) implanted in his skull, and gets plastic surgery done on himself for a disguise in the morning, and is on his way to the assignment the same day. On the other hand, when he decides to do some research, he heads down to the local library (in Washington DC) to look up old newspapers and the like on microfiche.
- Deconstructed in the Kim Newman short story "Tomorrow Town", which is set in the 1970s and focuses on a murder committed in an experimental community of futurists deliberately constructed as a 1970s version of what the year 2000 would look like — and the savvy detectives are quick to realize that it's completely unworkable, with a futuristic monorail system and bubble cars that can be outrun by someone on a bike, robots that are bugger-all use whatsoever, a "super computer" that's really good at adding things up but not much else, an "evolved" linguistics system which exists largely because its creator has trouble spelling, and a dysfunctional and somewhat sexist social system that, not un-coincidentally, places the (murdered) leader of the community in both a position of unquestioned power and gives him the opportunity to legally steal other people's girlfriends/wives if he fancies them, whether they (or their partners) want to or not. Oh, and the very fact that a murder's been committed by people who claim to have evolved "beyond" the petty motives for murder is a pretty big strike on the card as well.
- There's a touch of Hilarious in Hindsight in that the fashionable '70s clothes of the detectives would look no less comical to a modern reader than Tomorrow Town's unisex jumpsuits.
- And, of course, there's the fact that the 21st century reader knows for a fact that all of the community's predictions about the world of 2000 are completely wrong.
- The Dune books Justified Trope a non-computerized future by outright stating that any kind of computers were destroyed due to a past religious crusade against artificial intelligence, which still has sway over the galaxy. Thus "Mentats", or humans who train their minds to act as computers, are standard personnel for all major powers.
- The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov made some amazing predictions decades before they should have rationally been expected (Pocket calculators, screen-displayed information, atomic clocks, etc.), but some of its technology has rusted along with the rest of them. Asimov predicted the continued miniaturization of information, but instead of computer memory it is all stored on microfilm; hard-copy newspapers are still being printed millennia after the invention of electronic displays; and the thought of an actual thinking computer that can perform sequenced actions, instead of one that simply processed mathematical calculations, was not even introduced until Foundation and Earth, a sequel-book written in The Eighties and taking place thousands of years after the invention of Faster-Than-Light Travel, whereas a modern-day programmer using Visual Basic can do the same thing with an If-Then code.
- Particularly glaring when you consider that without these sequential machines humanity still builds humaniform robots with strong (practically conscious) artificial intelligence.
- Asimov retconned the absence of conscious or near-conscious AIs and general-purpose robots from the Foundation series pretty cleverly when he linked it to his Robots series (which, of course, had them): There was an entity actively working to prevent humans from building such equipment because it was a blind alley in human development which would ultimately destroy any group that pursued it (and it HAD done this, to then entire crop of original human colony worlds, with some humans from Earth only escaping the trap by the skin of their teeth and setting up new colonies).
- Asimov also posits that a galaxy map would be very difficult to establish when in fact we almost already have one. Also, a device to display stars in 3D is a new invention that appears in Second Foundation when in fact such programs already exist and can be downloaded for free.
- The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov is about a secret organization which regularly changes the whole history of humankind, by combining Time Travel, Butterfly Effect and magical computers, powerful enough to calculate what the new reality will look like after the change made by a Butterfly of Doom. They also use... wait for it... punched cards.
- Minus Planet, a story by John D. Clark from 1937, has a huge one. The protagonist observes an anti-matter planet, compares his sightings with those of observatories on Mars and Venus, and works out that it's heading for Earth — with a slide rule.
- William Gibson's 1984 novel Neuromancer, unintentionally prophetic in many ways, features a famous and unfortunate moment early on where Case's "...buyer for the three megabytes of hot RAM in the Hitachi wasn't taking calls."
- The principal reason for the 'unintentionally prophetic' nature of Neuromancer is that people have read it, gone 'Cool!' at something in it, and proceeded to build it. Also, a good part of the reason some things look so weird is Gibson himself knew almost nothing about real computers when he wrote it on his (manual) typewriter.
- Another "famous and unfortunate moment" is when the eponymous sentient supercomputer's more extroverted counterpart, Wintermute, disturbs and frightens Case by causing a bank of pay phones to ring in sequence as he runs past them. This is in addition to the fact that cell phones are completely non-existent in Gibson's vision of the future.
- In his introduction to the 25th Anniversary Edition to the book, Gibson apologizes to any young readers who are baffled as to why no one has a cell phone, and who can't imagine what a payphone looks like.
- Consciously addressed in Gibson's "Gernsback Continuum" a short story about a photographer who receives an assignment to photograph California's Zeerust-laden "Raygun Gothic" architecture.
- Gibson's Bridge Trilogy started showing this post-1999. Anyone else happen to remember a gloves-and-goggles-VR Internet coming into existence in the 2000s? Didn't think so.
- Subverted in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy novels, particularly the first one where Arthur, new to space, sees a spaceship and is impressed by how it looks so future-y. Ford, an alien who's been across space and time, is aghast by how garish and out-of-date it is.
- Much to Ray Bradbury's surprise, Fahrenheit 451, first published in 1953, partially avoided this, portraying an early 21st century society with people listening to music from devices the size of cigarette lighters with plugs that go in their ears, televisions that are as wide and as thick as the walls they're mounted on, and people who are obsessed with their "interactive stories".
- Aldous Huxley's Brave New World posits a Dystopia where humans with drastically reduced mental capabilities are engineered in a complex of labs... to be elevator operators.
- There's also a moment where they use a card catalogue.
- And they apparently can't make infinite clones of the same person, despite having a rather complicated process to increase the number of identical twins born from each "batch" of people.
- Lampshaded in the final chapters, when Mustapha Mond claims that many institutions deliberately use archaic and inefficient technology in order to ensure that there are always jobs for the lower castes.
- Islands In The Net, by Bruce Sterling, has a computer-net dominated future — of fax machines and BBS (bulletin boards, for those too young to remember. The pre-WWW ancestor of the forum). Still, with just a few changes in wording, it could very easily become a believable Twenty Minutes Into the Future, as it does predict many plausible consequences of information technology.
- It's difficult to believe that A Clockwork Orange, even in the 1960s in which it was made, is meant to be set in the future.
- Burgess himself said that book was meant to be set in an alternate 60s. The film, however...
- Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man holds up surprisingly well for a novel written in the '40s, mainly by circumventing or just not directly addressing most potentially Zeerusty subjects. However, there's only one computer in the book: it's the size of a room and prints the results of its calculations on paper tape. Despite this, its legal verdicts are weirdly intuitive.
- The Metaverse of Snow Crash resembles Second Life more than the internet (which is essentially what it turns out to be). Also, on a more political front, the United States has devolved into a series of franchises that each function as separate countries, and Japan (or "Nippon") is the undisputed leader in technology and business, as apparently the Japanese economic bubble never burst.
- Dragonriders of Pern shows a bit of this: apparently, when we achieve faster-than-light interstellar travel and turing-level artificial intelligence... we will be using DOS again.
- Arguably, this is one of the reasons why Pern is essentially a Luddite planet in the first place--with AIVAS as the only example of "modern" technology on Pern (albeit 2500 years old), McCaffrey was able to avoid having a series with a helluva lot more Zeerust.
- Also, one could argue that in All the Weyrs of Pern, AIVAS has the Pernese program in DOS because it's a "baby step." If you've never seen a computer before in your life, it may be easier to start with a simpler operating system. Since AIVAS appears to have encyclopedic knowledge of everything 20th-century on, it's actually not much of a stretch to say he would know DOS inside-out, even if that knowledge, in his home culture, is ridiculously academic and outdated.
- Hyperion managed to predict relatively cheap ubiquitous use of the Internet in 1989, just one year after it was made accessible to commercial groups. On the other hand there are also Hard Boiled PIs.
- Even more, it predicted the iPhone. Yep. The Diskey is a small, ubiquitous device looking like a screen the size of a cigarette pack, but much slimmer, that you command by pressing icons that appear on it. It's used as a communication device, has a direct connection with the computer network and is your main way to access any medium. The cycle doesn't tell if you can shake it to skip tunes, or if it systematically falls apart by itself after three years use, though.
- Valentina: Soul in Sapphire, a story about a sentient computer program published in 1984, is interesting because it rather accurately predicts the Internet, online gaming culture, and the use of emoticons in text messaging.
- Larry Niven's Ring World Engineers has computers that use magnetic tapes. Built by a race that make floating cities, interstellar ramscoops, longevity drugs, etc.
- Many of Isaac Asimov's robot stories, set in the 2000s--and even the Lije Bailey novels, set in about the 3000s--mention characters using slide rules. Robots can't do math?
- Another weird one was that a plot point in one of the Lije Bailey novels revolved around the incredible idea of robots with interchangeable parts. Then there was concern about robot brains controlling starships (especially warships), because it wouldn't occur to them that other ships contained humans.
- Never mind that, try a robot with true A.I....that can't talk because text (or robot "thought") to speech is too complex. Really, it's amazing how his early robots had A.I. and could communicate in lots of ways, but couldn't talk.
- In Harry Turtledove's Guns of the South the South African white supremacists arming the Confederacy with AK-47s are from 2015, but the details given of that year appear little different from the late Eighties - early Nineties (published in 1992.) The only apparent reasons for the future setting are the Time Machine's span of 150 years, and the invention of a time machine.
- Edward Bellamy's "Looking Backward", written in 1887, portrays the U.S. in the year 2000 as a "socialist utopia"--actually a top-down, Soviet-style military dictatorship. Bellamy's descriptions of credit cards and the Internet, however, were surprisingly spot-on, if primitive.
- George O. Smith's Venus Equilateral stories (1942-1945) feature a 3-mile-long, 1-mile-diameter space-communications station stuffed with vacuum tubes. The problem of communicating with ships in flight is solved with complicated cams. The engineer-heroes work out problems by sketching them out on tablecloths and using their slide rules.
- The three Rama sequels (written by Gentry Lee, with Arthur C. Clarke contributing ideas) take place in the 23rd century, but we're still using analog tapes for museum tours, and somehow the internet has failed entirely to catch on to the point that they actually send TV reporters and newspaper correspondents on potentially dangerous deep-space missions instead of just letting the astronauts post on their blogs to tell the world what's going on.
- Arthur C. Clarke was a visionary in many respects, but some of his works share his peers' failure to anticipate advances in computing:
- In the short story Superiority, a major plot point is that a spaceship battle computer requires a million vacuum tubes and a team of five hundred technicians to maintain and operate it. The liner carrying the technicians makes an interesting target.
- In Earthlight the protagonist, searching for an information leak, finds the moonbase computer with girls feeding it tapes, and a room-full of electric typewriters. He leaves convinced that information could not possible leak out through the computer, because the hardware is locked away.
- Captured in the 1962 non-fiction book, 1975 and the Changes to Come. Some predicted innovations that never came to pass include toaster bacon and punch-card rotary phones.
- Heinlein's first written (1938) but last published (2003) novel "For Us, the Living: A Comedy of Customs" is chock-a-block full of Zeerust. Of main significance is a cross between a centralized library and a network that handles information and entertainment, but transmission is by speeding up analog signals which are recorded at home then slowed down to normal speed. That was actually used with wire recorders for a while during WW 2 by Allied spies to radio messages from Europe to the UK. What hasn't caught on is everyone lounging around stark naked at home, and most of the time in public.
- Philip K. Dick books are pretty Zeerusty, but a glaring example is in Ubik. The characters are in a spaceship, en-route from the Moon to Earth, and they need to make a phone call. Someone punches a search query into an electronic phone book (which is big, bulky device, not simply a function of the ship's computer) which then extrudes a punched-card with the number on it. The card is then fed into the phone to make the call.
- Used deliberately in the short story The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew by Catherynne M Valente, with a documentary filmmaker using being shot off to Venus in a Jules Verne-like cannon, and her B&W newsreels of alien worlds shown in silent movie theatres.
- One second grade schoolbook contained a short story about life in an extremely polluted future. It was told from the point of view of a kid living his normal day at home (school via video and so on). At one point, parents came back home and the mother went to the kitchen and set about making Food Pills dinner. Yes, in a world where dinner consists of swallowing pre-made brown ("chicken and gravy") and green ("peas") pills, it's still the woman's sacred duty to take the pills out and set the table.
- The Tom Swift series of books (1910 or so) foretold some interesting developments, such as stealth airplanes (though in this case the stealth related to silence), television, and laser weapons. The Tom Swift, Jr. series of books (50's and 60's) also foretold some interesting developments including pocket calculators, space shuttles and space stations.
- Many stories and novels written by Arthur C. Clarke from the 1950s to the late 1970s attribute in the near future seen from their perspective (roughly the1990s to present age) a most important place in world politics, science and global Julesvernian projects for African and Pacific Islands countries. Even more strangely for a modern reader, this idealistic view of decolonized Africa in the forefront of progress was fashionable prior to 1980, and not just in Eastern European Communist countries.
- Stanislaw Lem's Tales of Pirx the Pilot suffers partly from this, especially with the bigger computers that still have punchcards as input, and satellites communicating with morse.
- Kurt Vonnegut's first novel, Player Piano, ("Utopia 14" in some printings) features EPICAC, a massive supercomputer that takes up the entirety of Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
- The early Pip and Flinx novels are prone to this, although the series retcons much of it away in time. The first one has Flinx don a survival-kit belt that includes a supply of minimicrofilm books on spools for his visit to an alien planet; in the second, he's kidnapped by a pervert who needs his psychic powers to guide an animated simulation within a "Janus jewel", the functions of which would be outclassed by your average 16-bit graphics program.
- Pretty much any non-fiction "futurism" book will become this trope within a decade or two of publication. The 1970 bestseller Future Shock, for example, tells of future housewives who get their hair dried under 50s-style bowl driers that tickle their pleasure centers as they work, and that the pretty airline-counter receptionist who books your flight (because, of course, there's no Internet to buy tickets through) could be part robot.
- Costume designs from Lost in Space.
- Everything from Lost in Space such as the laundry machine that spits out neatly folded, plastic-wrapped clothes.
- Just about anything from Star Trek the Original Series. Star Trek Voyager had some fun with Zeerust, with a crew member who enjoyed acting out the Show Within a Show adventures of Flash Gordon-esque "Captain Proton".
- The Star Trek the Original Series Remastered undertaking does, on occasion, fix some of these. To the annoyance of purists.
- Khan's origin story is that he's an Indian warlord/genetically-altered superhuman during the Eugenics War in the year 1996.
- Also the name itself: "Eugenics War." Eugenics was at the very least on its way into the annals of pseudoscience by the time the show was being filmed, mostly thanks to Those Wacky Nazis.
- The Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations", in which the crew time-traveled into the setting of the episode "Trouble with Tribbles", mined a lot of amusement out of the style differences of clothing, devices, and Klingons.
- Star Trek Enterprise really made things interesting, considering it is a modern Trek with modern designs yet is supposed to be set before the Original Series. It was a challenge to make their hand-held communicators bigger than modern cell phones yet smaller than the clunky boxes they used. The designers even said that in 40 years, the modern Trek will look like Zeerust (really, it won't take that long). Plotwise, things haven't changed much either: one of the stock patterns of threat in ST: TOS is "Step 1: take away the communicators". Similarly, by 2005 or so, the stock pattern in all contemporary media is "Step 1: take away the cell phone". Most writers then and now haven't worked out how to create dire circumstance while having reliable mobile communication available (this is why Buffy the Vampire Slayer didn't get cellphones until the last season).
- Trek's computing technology excluding AIs is absurdly primitive by contemporary standards. TOS has the Federation using hand-sized Microtapes in 2267 when we have MicroSDHC cards the size of a fingernail today.
- Let's give credit where it's due and acknowledge that Trek's PADDs have a great deal in common with modern PDAs and TabletPCs and that communicators are cellphone equivalents. Our cellphones, however, are restricted to sublight communication and at most single-planet range.
- Even more subtle is the ubiquity of touchscreen technology and contextual interfaces used even as early as TNG (1987), which really seems somewhat realistic if you're not into the idea that we'll control everything with brain implants someday. Heck, flip-open cell phones exist because of TOS.
- Motorola had a big hit when they introduced a slim, very pocketable flip cell phone, the "StarTAC"--not a coincidence, I'm sure. Unfortunately, even though the Federation had a galactic information network, their communicators and tricorders didn't have data plans unlike today's smartphones.
- The classic Trek films and The Next Generation TV series are starting to suffer from this as well, in some areas more than others. '80s resort hotel architecture for a starship interior, anyone?
- The signature LCARS interface introduced in Star Trek the Next Generation" as the look for all Starfleet ship control panels qualifies. It anticipated smartphone-like touch-sensitive virtual controls, but not most of computer graphic user interface advancements like tiled windows and multitasking. LCARS resembles a multitouch-enabled piece of DOS software. Since TNG debuted in 1987, before Windows 1.0 was readily available for IBM PCs and most home computers were Commodore 64s or ZX Spectrums, this is at least understandable.
- In one TNG episode, Wesley marvels at how some machines can possess whole gigabytes of memory.
- The Star Trek the Original Series Remastered undertaking does, on occasion, fix some of these. To the annoyance of purists.
- Doctor Who has had some problems with this due to its exceptionally long run. Under various excuses, the new series has "modernized" such Zeerusted elements as the TARDIS interior (which has, on a few rare occasions, had a deliberately Steampunk look), the Cybermen, and the sonic screwdriver, though not the Robot Buddy K-9, designed in The Seventies. In "School Reunion", a lampshade was hung on the latter:
Rose: Why does he look so... disco?
- The revived Doctor Who series console rooms have been "organic / coral" and "relatively shiny and futuristic for 2010". The console itself has a thrown-together old-fashioned scrapheap look, with bicycle pumps and hot / cold taps replacing random parts. TARDIS interiors are justified in that they're fully customisable by the user, and if they look out of date it's simply because the user wants it that way. On the other hand, modern Who may have Zeerusted itself in the future by referring to the interior looks as the "desktop theme".
- That 70s Show once had Red imagining what the future would be like, and it was filled with tongue-in-cheek Zeerust, such as jumpsuits and jet packs. The joke was that he imagined all that stuff would be available in the far-off year of ... 1997. The episode first aired in 1999.
- Zot! had already topped that joke, with a girl from the Eighties awestruck at the marvels of 1965.
- Part of Firefly's charm is how a lot of the "future tech" weapons look like old fashioned guns. This is exemplified in the episode Trash, where the high-tech laser gun shown looks like an oversized Star Wars blaster. Well, it's a Space Western. Though it really doesn't look like original Star Wars blasters, which were based off of real weapons, primarily World War II era guns.
- Red Dwarf had this quite a bit. Examples included the Cat's "cutting edge", very 90's fashion sense, and an episode where the crew watched triangular video tapes. This was amusingly lampshaded in the 2009 Reunion Show "Back to Earth", in which Kryten points out that DVDs became obsolete because everyone kept losing them. Apparently videotapes are "too big to lose."
- UFO. In the episode "Court Martial" a computerized encoding device uses handwritten data entry, but it's actually a security precaution. Handwriting samples of personnel authorised to use the device are stored in its memory, and compared against the message written on the input card.
- Babylon 5 used bulky, awkward, and sharp 'holographic data crystals' for portable data storage. In the real world, CompactFlash cards came on the market in 1995. B5 was behind the real world market, let alone the real state of the art.
- Note that all of the races on B5 use the data crystals. They are compatible with every race's tech, and are presumably superior to whatever the current state of Human produced portable storage is in-universe.
- Canon states that six standard data crystals can contain the entirety of human knowledge as of the 23rd century. Try fitting everything on the Internet on an SD card and see how far you get.
- Needing to find non-military people in person or by word of mouth is definite Zeerust in a modern world where it's impossible to avoid overhearing at least one "where are you?" cell phone call a day. Especially since both cell phone-equivalent technology and telepathy (which would make the question completely moot) were available to at least the main characters throughout the run of the series.
- Defying Gravity is set in 2009 with manned interplanetary travel. Seriously, they didn't even try.
- An episode of Fraggle Rock has the inventor Doc trying to develop a radio that can get signals from the other side of the world. You just know Jim Henson would have loved what the Internet can do.
- Disney's 1988 mini-series/failed pilot Earth Star Voyager. Not surprisingly, computer technology and graphics have taken a giant leap backward by 2088. The future looks like it was designed by the same engineers who built EPCOT Center's Future World, which itself is becoming dated.
- Watching Max Headroom in The Eighties we all thought to ourselves, "Shit this looks futuristic!" Nowadays when we watch it we think, "Shit this looks 80's!" The video technology, the graphics, the clearly 80's look of everything (well, it was the trope namer for Twenty Minutes Into the Future). On the other hand, some of its "predictions" are more accurate than those of most other fiction of the time: it seemed to know about the upcoming internet epidemic, the only difference being that exactly the same thing was done with computers instead of TV sets.
- In a rare aversion, the TV movie (and possibly other episodes of the series) depicted computer hacker Bryce Lynch using a small, flip-style cordless phone while in his bathtub.
- Fuji Television's sign-on and sign-off depicts life in future Tokyo, complete with a Space Elevator to their orbiting TV studio.
- In Earth 2 the audience gets to see inside the cockpit of the starship that will take the colonists to their new home. It's a very modern glass cockpit with displays everywhere, just one strange thing, they are all heavy bulky CRTs.
- Donald Fagen's song "I.G.Y. (What A Wonderful World)" deliberately invokes Zeerust, depicting a world where the US definitively won the space race, computers are benevolent overlords, and everyone wears spandex jackets in a world with perfect climate control.
Note: The songs on this album represent certain fantasies that might have been entertained by a young man growing up in the remote suburbs of a northeastern city during the late fifties and early sixties, i.e., one of my general height, weight and build. - D.F.
- Fagen's 1993 album, Kamakiriad, continues to invoke this trope intentionally. It is set Twenty Minutes Into the Future, but the album art implies that this is 1999 as imagined from 1959. The inlay notes begin:
Kamakiriad is an album of eight related songs. The literal action takes place a few years in the future, near the millennium.
- The video for The Postal Service's We Will Become Silhouettes is set in a 1950's style household. Except, of course, they didn't have synthesizers in that era. Why, you ask? the video takes place After the End.
- In an in-music example, Animusic's "Future Retro" has futuristic instruments, but retro tunes.
- The Flight of the Conchords have a song about a Robot War where sentient robots have Turned Against Their Masters and exteminated mankind, which starts with the lyric "The year 2000, the distant future/The year 2000, the distant future..." (This is entirely deliberate; it was made in 2007.)
- Someday, Little Children from Sesame Street
- Cyberpunk: A game released in the late '80s/early '90s (first edition was released in '88, second in '90) hilariously depicts "cellular cyberdecks" as massive, expensive, and unwieldy. While taking place about ten years from now. The stats for the cyberdecks were listed in real life units: one of the top-of-the-line cyberdecks had a massive 256 MB of RAM and ran at a blazing 100 MHz.
- Also, according to the depictions in the game material, the most popular kind of music in the 2010s/2020s is basically an updated version 80s hair metal with cyberpunk-themed lyrics. One of the eight character classes you can choose from is that of a rebellious rock musician called "rockerboy". The game writers must've thought rap and electronic music were just passing fads, as they are not mentioned.
- Well, look at some of the bands out now. They sing a mish-mash of what is geeky, some of it steam/cyberpunk, and some of it is metallic. It's not that far off.
- In ICE's 1990's 'Cyberspace' it is noted that by 2090 some portable phones are small enough to fit into a pocket.
- In the original 'Traveller' ships computers START at one ton for the most basic, 2 program model. If you pay extra you can have optical backup device.
- Shadowrun: This is the case with the entire first three editions of the game. Since the game was set Twenty Minutes Into the Future, every few years they would need to reboot the game to keep ahead of growing technology. For the hacker type class, the original series had deckers that would have to literally plug a wire into the back of their head to go virtual. In the most modern addition everyone has augmented-reality goggles or a wi-fi computer in their head.
- The original Main Book for Rifts lists an item called the PC-3000 Hand-Held Computer. It's about the size of a Nintendo DS Lite. It uses one inch disks, has a Dual drive system, and a hard memory of 16 megabytes, and has no sound capabilities. Later versions avert this by saying that the player should assume that it's more powerful than whatever's currently available on the market.
- Paranoia was designed to invoke this on purpose, to help make the end date of our civilization and the rise of Alpha Complex unclear. Buildings, pills and even the swooshing doors all invoke Zeerust, and then we get talk of cloning and genetics that suggests that mankind was actually Twenty Minutes Into the Future when the apocalypse happened.
- Narrowly averted by Trinity, set in the 22nd century. Computers in that RPG are only one step under true AI, are small enough to fit in a pocket, and are presumed to have most of the capacities of 2011 smartphones. The smallest unit of memory described is the "bloc", able to hold "a large library". The only notable limit on what computers can do is the "Comm Crunch", which states that cellular bandwidth is in very short supply (so the GM can arbitrarily throttle the PCs' communications, as needed by the plot). This seems eerily prescient for a game from the 90s! Zeerust only arises in the presumption that computers would still have keyboards, would be strapped to your forearm, and would be called "computers" not "phones".
- Dark Conspiracy, based off of Twilight 2000, was set similar to this. During the Greater Depression most of the technology and design went back to the fifties, unless you were a corporation, or the government, in which case it was set back to the early '90s. Excluding the invading aliens, who used brain tissue of organisms fitted with advanced computer chips.
- The Classic LEGO Space era largely falls into this, as do some of the early days of "modern" LEGO Space; this set, from 1986, is a pretty good example.
- Cyberswine: The game is supposed to be set far into the future, but Zak has software programs on a compact disk. This game was released in 1997 which was roughly when CDs were at their peak, but nowadays software programs are more likely to be on a flash drive.
- Parodied in SNK's Metal Slug series, which takes place in a near future in which nearly all "futuristic" tech is intentional Zeerust, such as land battleships or pulp robots. In a related note, almost all of the "contemporary" tech is inexplicably World War II-era.
- The Fallout series of RPGs embodies zeerust. Fallout is set in an Alternate History in which the Cold War never ended, and technology progressed in much bigger strides than ours, yet the aesthetic of it is based on the futurist suburban atmosphere of the 1950s. Also, while technology as a whole advanced immensely, many scientific breakthroughs never happened (for example, all computers have monochromatic monitors and run on vacuum tubes instead of transistors, which first were invented in the 2070s).
- Wasteland, a nearly-forgotten game of The Eighties and the inspiration for Fallout, took place In The Distant Future Of... 1995, when the Cold War (oops!) reaches a breaking point and everybody gets nuked. Only a small portion of Nevada survives. So far as you know, anyway, since the precipitating event that started the nukes flying was the sudden, simultaneous and unexplained destruction of all communications satelites. While standard equipment is somewhere around the level of the Kalashnikov (the "AK-97," to be specific, a 50th anniversary update of the classic) you eventually wind up carrying around portable nuclear batteries to power your handheld ion cannons.
- In Bioshock, the city of Rapture is all designed in a 1940s Art Deco style, somewhat behind the times even by 1960 when the game takes place. It looks less out of place after you learn Rapture was apparently built in 1946 and its creator and leader forbade outside culture from getting in, leaving the place in permanent aesthetic stasis.
- The Red Alert series loves this trope more than life itself, especially with the Soviet side.
- The game Stubbs the Zombie takes place in the 1950's with what they believe will be futuristic technology. There are lots of flying cars, simplistic robots with bare-bones AI but no e-mail, Internet, etc. The game developers make the game seem futuristic... for the 1950's.
- The original Contra, being a Rambo/Commando/Aliens pastiche, stars a pair of musclebound commandos fighting against an alien army in the jungle. The game is set in the year 2633 according to the Japanese canon, but despite the presence of improbable weapons and bases, there's no real reason to suspect that the game is actually set in the future. Because of this, the localization actually claimed that the game was actually set in the present when they brought it to America. This continued until they decided to keep the futuristic setting for Contra III and even then the city where the game starts, as well as the car in the first level, looks late 80's - early 90's.
- Thought it might not be as obvious as some of the above example, Mass Effect is an intentional version of this trope although the zeerust it invokes is not 1940s or 1950s zeerust, but rather 1970s and 1980s zeerust - according to Word of God anyhow.
- Essentially the entire concept behind the style of dress of the Team Galactic Mooks in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl.
- Lampshaded by more than one character when used as part of the character design of Chester in Ar Tonelico 2, even leading to him being nicknamed "Fuglycool" by one character.
- So, how about that 20XX, eh? Remember when that mad scientist (who looked like Albert Einstein) stole a bunch of robots from his coworker scientist (who looked like Santa Claus) to take over the world? Aren't you glad the Santa-scientist refitted his personal assistant robot to become a super fighting robot who went on to stop that madman? Several times? Don't look now, I hear some scientist in the Soviet Union is threatening a similar attack...
- Street Fighter 2010 (no real relation to the other series) predicted that in twenty years, martial artists will be fighting aliens using performance-enhancing cybernetic suits and interdimensional warp gates. The year 2010 has come and there are still no cyborgs, no aliens, and interplanetary travel is nowhere near perfect yet.
- Space Channel 5 is all about the 1960s Zeerust.
- 2097/XL is a futuristic racing game released in 1997 and set a hundred years in the future. It made a serious effort to create a consistent future aesthetic with its Designers Republic branding and licensed underground soundtrack, but unfortunately it was released on the verge of the minimalist iPod pastel style. The rounded 'computer' fonts, bright primary colours and segmented digital displays now seem rather dated.
- In the Back to The Future adventure games, Marty finds himself at a science expo in 1931. The expo predicts that, fifty years from then, there will be machines that make artificial rain and sun, and vast underground cities. Marty, from fifty-five years later (and had... er, will have seen even further into the future in the movies) snarks that he hasn't been to that time period yet.
- Aerobiz: Futuristic predictions of huge, 1000-passenger airliners & supersonic airliners traversing the globe seem almost quaint for someone who picks up the game now.
- Team Fortress 2 has a bit of this in its level design, such as the mysterious Doomsday Device featured in Nucleus and the giant missile launcher in Gravelpit.
- The Dr. Grordbort weapons invoke this trope, similar to their real-life models (except in the game they actually work)
- I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space!!! is a 1950s and 1960s Fest of this trope.
- The Distant Finale of Penny and Aggie, set six years in the future, shows several of the female characters wearing outfits of this type to their Class Reunion. Sara even lampshades this by telling Daphne, "The retro-future trend was made for you."
- Sometimes, characters in Electric Wonderland use technology that feels dated even for the year of the respective comic's release. The cartoonist reportedly hopes that this will prevent references that will date in the future from sticking out.
- The website Tales Of Future Past goes into the phenomenon in detail.
- See Googie Architecture Online for real-life examples of Jetsons-inspired design.
- For some steampunkish Zeerust, see this awesome collection of French postcards from 1900, trying to imagine what life would be like in 2000. It's surprisingly accurate in some regards. And then they have things like the "Radium-Powered Fireplace"...
- Retro Future
- Paleo-Future. A look into the Future That Never Was.
- Transportation Futuristics
- The art of Syd Mead (famous for his work in Blade Runner). And here.
- These old articles from Popular Mechanics have countless examples of the Awesome but Impractical machines of the future.
- Dark Roasted Blend. Photos including retro-art space-travel posters and Soviet-era Zeerust!
- The website Deep Cold is devoted to CGI animations of Cold War-era spaceships that never flew.
- Almost all of Doctor Steel's artwork is sci-fi through Victorian or Diesel-era tinted goggles.
- Retropolis: The Art of the Future That Never Was.
- Zeerustian predictions of the future are savagely parodied in this film short. While the narration sounds like a 1950's expert beaming about the coming utopia brought about by our futuristic technology, the actual video depicts a lower middle class couple from the actual year 2000, who seem none too impressed with the megamalls, bad traffic, crappy service jobs and life-extending but not life-enhancing medicine which comprise their world.
- Parodied in this Cracked.com image collection.
- "The future" in The Jetsons seemed to mean "the 1960s, but with more Applied Phlebotinum."
- This was parodied hilariously in an episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.
- Muppet Babies parodied this, when Baby Piggy claimed that the future would be "just like now, only more... futurely!"
- The pilot of Gargoyles has shades of this. The Gargoyles are asked to retrieve a floppy disc from a FLYING AIRSHIP.
- Any of the old cartoons featuring "The House Of Tomorrow", which typically has, say, a pair of robotic hands manually scrubbing, rinsing, and drying dishes, instead of a dishwasher.
- Jimmy Neutron is set in the Zeerust-styled town of Retroville, and Jimmy's futuristic inventions have a charming Buck Rogers quality about them. And in a strange contrast, the entire show is pretty modern 3D animation. So you get a Buck Rogers-esque mind control device that looks remarkably realistic, even though it appears to be a toy. In retrospect (no pun intended), he probably intended it that way.
- Many episodes of Futurama parodied this by having futuristic technology that was already outdated in some way, such as interactive cinemas with monochrome newsreels. And then making them holographic. The Jetsons-style "floating hoops around everything and everyone" is considered retro in the manner of a nostalgia cafe or disco.
Bender: "Is food finally in pill form? What about pills? Are they in food form?"
- The modern day Venture compound in The Venture Brothers is practically built on Zeerust, from the X-1 (nuclear powered superjet) to the punch card sleeping beds, to the moving walkways, etc...
- The Transformers: The Movie and the third and fourth series were set in the far-off year of 2005. The new characters all have 80s future-y alt-modes, although this can be excused as the Cybertronians having alien designs (why robots would transform into vehicles for people to drive is beside the point). The fact that Soundwave and Blaster still transform into cassette players, not to mention the fact that the Cybertronian personalities can be stored on five-and-a-half-inch floppy disks makes this trope very clear. Daniel Witwicky's outfit (a jumpsuit with his initials on it) falls right into Zeerust, too.
- Historical Zeerust - Terry's friend is helping him study for a history test in Batman Beyond. She mentions "Come on. Clinton was the fun one, then came the boring one...", ignorant of the fact that the next president would go on to be called many, many, many things, but boring is certainly not one of them. You can assume they believed Al Gore would be elected.
- In addition, while the show correctly predicted the prevalence of cell phones in the future, the phones themselves look more like cell phones from the late 90s when the show was made. The creators even admit in one episodes commentary that they did not predict how cell phones would shrink. If it helps any, you can think of them as satellite phones (which have shrunk, but not nearly as much) instead. This goes double when they somehow continue to work at the bottom of those vast glass-and-steel canyons where the signal from an ordinary tower would be almost indistinguishable from background radiation.
- While we are in the DCAU, the idea of zeerust was deconstructed in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm; in a flashback, Bruce and Andrea are shown having a wonderful time visiting the Gotham World's Fair, with its lively and optimistic view of the future with standard things such as robot butlers. When the fair is revisited in the present, it is in ruins, seemingly paralleling Bruce and Andrea's future, and serves as the final battleground for the two former lovers and the Joker. Perhaps not entirely deconstructed: a display car that catches Bruce's attention looks a lot like the Batmobile. Might he have rescued this prototype before it went the way of the Joker's hideout?
- There's plenty of this in Ruby-Spears' Mega Man; despite taking place in at least 2010 (it's never outright stated, but the games give us a pretty good idea), the fashions and much of the technology are clearly 90s. Corded phones and phone booths. However, the robots are pretty damned advanced.
- My Life as a Teenage Robot uses a visual style akin to pie-eyed classic toons and is set in a near-future setting with very Zeerust aesthetics.
- The Fairly Odd Parents had an episode that actually Lampshaded this trope called "Future Lost", in which Timmy discovers one of his father's old sci-fi comic books that supposedly takes place in the "far off" future of the year 2000. Timmy notes that what's in the book is very different than the real early twenty first century. He then makes a wish making the Zeerust world of that book come to life.
- Tex Avery did a series of cartoons exploring and spoofing how future technology would improve cars, television and household appliances.
- Every World's Fair. Ever.
- Cybergoth music and fashion. Both are intended to seem "futuristic", yet are firmly grounded in 80s and early-90s conceptions of the future (except with more falls).
- A lot of "classic" 1950s design elements, probably best seen in the "Doo Wop" architecture of Wildwood, New Jersey.
- Now referred to as 'Googie' or 'Midcentury Modern'.
- Exemplified by Seattle's Space Needle
- Tomorrowland at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, originally conceived in 1955 as a portrayal of life in 1986, which over the years has become about half-Zeerust and half-rides-based-on-Sci Fi-Disney-properties, such as Lilo and Stitch and Buzz Lightyear. Space Mountain doesn't quite fall into either, yet.
- Of particular note was Monsanto's House of the Future in Disneyland, which featured ultra-futuristic elements like plastics, a microwave oven, and a flatscreen television. While the House soon faded into Zeerust, one element remained steadfastly resistant to progress: when Disneyland decided to demolish the House, wrecking balls just bounced off the sturdy plastic construction. They had to use hacksaws and blowtorches to dismantle it.
- The Zeerust in Tomorrowland is mostly deliberate nowadays-- "The future that never was is finally here!" In 1994 Disneyland redesigned Tomorrowland to deliberately go "Retro-Future" ... that is, they stopped even trying to be prophetic and went for the future-as-envisioned-by-Jules-Verne look (essentially, part steampunk and part art deco). A notable exception is the Carousel of Progress, which touts a "Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" that's at least a decade out-of-date despite Disney's efforts. Carousel of Progress is supposed to showcase "cutting edge" stuff in its last scene... the last minor tweak in 2010 finally added a flat screen TV to a scene written in 1994.
- Unfortunately, the Carousel of Progress appeared to have been half designed by advertisers who wanted to reach Disney's paying customers. Some of the "features" included a long car commercial that people would actually wait in line to see becasue the screens were mounted on something that looked like motorcycle handlebars attached to a chair that turned and swivelled. Not surprisingly, many of the viewers would hop off the swivelling chairs as soon as they realized the commercial wasn't an introduction, but was actually the feature. That is exactly what it was - an ad for General Electric at the New York World's Fair.
- EPCOT has been sliding toward this as well, to the point that the original meaning of the name (Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow) and Walt Disney's original conception of EPCOT as a genuine "city of the future" are no longer officially acknowledged by the Disney corporation. The original scale model of the EPCOT city plan can now be found as a generic "vision of the future" seen at one of the brief stops on the Tomorrowland Peoplemover ride in the Magic Kingdom.
- Said park also had an attraction called "Horizons" depicting future space and ocean colonization and desert agriculture. Somehow, nearly everything else looked incredibly dated within a decade, including a building that looked straight out of Buck Rogers. Opened in 1983, closed in 1999. The same ride had a room nostalgically presenting the "The Future of the Fifties" as if it were a humorous departure from the sensible, realistic depictions in the rest of the attraction, demonstrating awareness of this trope while still lacking self-awareness of it.
- The current version of Spaceship Earth allows guests to customize an animated Zeerust future through a series of questions and an onride photo system puts their faces onto the cartoon bodies.
- To quote Mark Rosewater, Head Developer for Magic: The Gathering: "Because Future Sight's timeshifted cards are from the FUTURE (dramatic music) we wanted them to have a futuristic look, so we made a futuristic frame."
- Culinary example: Dippin' Dots, a dessert made from liquid-nitrogen-cooled beads of ice cream and mostly sold at amusement parks, been marketed as "The Ice Cream of the Future" since 1987. A 2008 Onion article parodied the slogan in an article where a time traveler with 1950s fashion sense arrives in the present day to report to the people of the world that, in the 22nd century, everybody eats Dippin' Dots and "real" ice cream is unknown. (Oh, and 99% of the population has AIDS and we're all slaves to the machines.)
- In November of 2011, Dippin' Dots filed for bankruptcy. Though, to be fair, it was Chapter 11 which means it could come back (as opposed to Chapter 7 "liquidation" bankruptcy)
- GM's "Dustbuster" minivans from the early '90s. At a classic car show, as a radio mobile unit, it didn't look out of place.
- The weirdly egg/bubble-shaped Ford Taurus station wagons from the late '90s, for similar reasons.
- Same for GM's 90's full-size wagons.
- The Aston Martin Lagonda and Bulldog. Pretty hideous and dated but, to give them some credit, unlike today's Astons they aren't aping the sixties James Bond DB5 in any way.
- They had been planned to erase from people's minds the impression of heavy V8 powered dinosaurs fit for older rich Brits and which looked like a cross between a Mustang and an Opel Manta. This was also the reason for cramming every possible cubic inch with CRT screens and complex electronics. It backfired.
- 1980 Renault Fuego. Cutting edge then. Not so much now.
- The Lamborghini Countach. Now the earlier Miura and 4-door Espada look more modern. Even worse with the eighties versions with their huge wings and flared arches that make them look less sophisticated since newer cars don't really need giant spoilers.
- The DeLorean probably belongs here too. Not helped by the fact that it was a dressed-up Lotus Esprit — a car that has aged quite well.
- While we're on cars, pretty much every American car from the mid-to-late '50s. They're loved as classics for that exuberance now, but when they first fell out of fashion, they fell even harder than the '80s examples listed above. The fact that all that chrome was attached with bolts to holes drilled into the fenders didn't help matters — the trim sporadically fell off when the holes rusted out, often before the car was even ten years old.
- That was because chrome was needed for the war effort, so cars were sold with wooden fenders and you would get the metal parts later from the dealer.
- The Advanced Passenger Train. Well it was in 1980.
- While on the subject of trains, Washington DC's Metrorail system almost certainly counts. It was a huge step forward when it opened in 1976, but its decor has changed surprisingly little since, and the elaborate automatic train control system has started to show its seams (the deadly crash that happened on the Red Line in 2009 has been blamed on failures in that system). Due to budget and time constraints, there are still some 1000-series cars in service, despite being over 30 years old and not having had a major overhaul since the 1990s; they're the ones with the disco-fabulous red/orange/beige interiors.
- PEOPLExpress. Yes kids, mauve and orange stripes were once the cutting edge.
- Southwest Airlines embraces their original livery's Zeerust-ness by keeping several planes in rotation with the old color scheme. And like all non-white based liveries, their current Blue/Red/Yellow version will someday be Zeerust. Any airline whose planes used to be chrome-colored also suffer Zeerust. Continental was the last American airline to hold out on that scheme.
- Also along the same lines, many films used Pan American airlines in their vision of the future... either showing Pan Am Space Travel, or something similar. A fact that's worth much amusement now that Pan Am not only fell from grace as the world's airline, but out of existence altogether.
- The Concorde SST was once expected to replace subsonic long-distance airliners altogether. Between safety issues, limited capacity, excessive operating costs, and noise-pollution statutes, it's unlikely that regular supersonic passenger flights will resume until there are space colonies to fly to.
- What actually killed economically the SST planes beyond all problems with safety, noise and costs was a supposedly minor but impossibly to avoid inconvenience: limited interior space. The cabin was lower and narrower than small regional jets, seats were small, space for entertainment screens was nonexistent. In late 1960s and early 1970s they thought shorter flight time would compensate, as back then even people wealthy enough to afford SST flights had lower expectations. Once the airlines could offer an 8 hour flight in perfect comfort, there was barely any incentive to pay thousands of dollars for a 3 hour cramped flight on the same route.
- The Aptera Typ-1, a new hybrid car that wouldn't look out of place on The Jetsons. It's either awesome on top of awesome, or utterly preposterous. You want one. And a jetpack.
- The infamous Xanadu houses, which were supposed to the "the house of the future". Built in the early 80s as automated homes and tourist attractions, their technology rapidly dated and the last of them closed up a mere ten years later.
- The "Whomobile" from Doctor Who. This was written into two episodes of the series, but was actually Jon Pertwee's personal car.
- There's some adorable Zeerust in this 30s newsreel feature of what clothes in the year 2000 will be like ("Oh swish!"). Curiously, they weren't wholly wrong about portable phones or radio. Or women wearing pants.
- This 1968 article about life in 2008 contains some fine, typical Zeerust: automated cars that hit 250mph on smooth plastic roads, all controlled by an infallible computer that has never caused an accident; cities covered by domes that keep them evenly climatized yearlong; moving sidewalks everywhere; intercontinental passenger rockets; four hour work days; housework is done by robots; and a lot more wacky stuff.
- Housework done by robots? Preposterous!
- The Seattle Center Monorail. As well as the Space Needle and the outdoor part of the Pacific Science Center.
- The Monorail actually works though, albeit a few fires that are fun to mention while riding it. People legitimately ride it, not just tourists. The Space Needle, on the other hand...
- The view from the top of the Needle is spectacular. Just don't waste your money on the overpriced restaurant.
- Unless it's a clear day and you want a spectacular rotating 360 degree view of the city, water, and mountains. One rotation around the restaurant takes about 45 minutes, which is about perfect for a (admittedly overpriced) meal. If you're going to do something extravagant in Seattle, you could do a lot worse than lunch in the Space Needle restaurant. This message brought to you by the Seattle Bureau of Tourism.
- And the (now-destroyed) Kingdome, which was in fact once planned to be built near the Seattle Center.
- The Monorail actually works though, albeit a few fires that are fun to mention while riding it. People legitimately ride it, not just tourists. The Space Needle, on the other hand...
- Biosphere 2.
- Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion House, a cheap, energy-efficient mass-produced portable home that was never produced because it was butt-ugly. And the Dymaxion car, as fuel-efficient as a modern car at a time when massive gas-guzzling road-boats were the norm, easier to park, and no one bought it because its aerodynamic body looked like a fish on wheels.
- People do sometimes willingly buy or build houses at least as ugly as that. Fuller (in the introduction to Grunch of Giants) said the Dymaxion House went nowhere because building codes effectively made prefab impossible.
- It's not that nobody bought the car- it never even went to production. It turns out that, in addition to being very aerodynamic, the (three-wheeled) Dymaxion was also very top-heavy and unstable. Development was tabled after the prototype killed a test driver.
- The Fascination concept car. First was proposed to use a "boilerless steam engine"(the closest thing to which is a hydrogen fuel cell), then an "electromagnetic association engine" (pure pie-in-the-sky Vaporware).
- This video made in the '50s shows the highway system of the future to have things like heated roads to melt ice, prefabricated bridges, self guiding cars with thermal imaging, truck trains consisting of store shelving, vehicle elevators, underground roadways, and as it proceeds further from reality: floating cars that can follow roads that turn upside down for no reason. They did certainly get urban sprawl right, though.
- Heated roads and underground roads have become true too. Some parking garages use elevators as well.
- Water-spanning suspension bridges also 'already' use pre-fabricated section. Oh, and the self-guiding cars are already under development, and thermal imaging is just a fancy version of laser/radar ranging. All the pieces are there, they just need a bit of connecting. oh, sure, the floating car is total fantasy, but there's a fair bit there that's actually quite realistic in terms of what's possible.
- Self-driving cars have been under development for decades, although they do seem to actually be getting somewhere now that a lot of work has gone into machine vision systems and the you can get a LOT more computing power per watt. (Seriously, one development vehicle has a separate 4-cylinder engine just to drive a generator to power the on-board computer needed to even TRY. More recently, more computing power comes in a laptop that can be powered from the cigarette lighter.) Urban sprawl is pretty old, too. It goes back at least to the mid-19th century with the introduction of passenger trains (you no longer had to be able to walk anywhere in a city in a reasonable time) and freight trains (you no longer had to get food from the immediate surroundings of the city). Steam-powered water pumps also meant that cities no longer needed to be built where nature provided adequate potable water.
- Any New Town generally, and the town of Zeerust in South Africa, which inspired the Trope Namer, in particular. While not actually a New Town, it was heavily expanded in the 1960's under the old Apartheid Government as an example of how wonderful the Republic of South Africa was (for White South Africans). Now looks a bit run down and odd in places, like most New Towns.
- Brasília, the capital city of Brazil, opened in 1960 and designed by Oscar Niemeyer, is a perfect example of Zeerust. Like another planned capital, Canberra, it has some interesting buildings but was built on a scale that assumed everybody would be driving a car. Looking back from a world where unlimited car usage is seen as a bit unneccesary Brasilia and Canberra seem far too overscaled and impersonal.
- UNO-City in Vienna makes a similar impression to viewers. Like most planned towns and districts of the 1960s and 1970s, it looks devoid of life. The planned structures both in the West and the Communist Bloc were usually built on empty spaces, rising straightly from the ground, which look strange to people accustomed for centuries with cramped buildings within walking distance of each other.
- Various 1960's rail transport vehicles such as the Budd Metroliner, UAC Turbo Train and US DoT State of the Art Cars exhibit this trope. While decades later the surviving vehicles from this era are considered either unremarkable or terribly dated (depending on their level of rehabilitation) at the time they were the living embodiment of the future. In the 1960s most rail vehicles dated from the 1930's and exhibited lackluster performance, high levels of noise, a bumpy ride, concrete floors, wicker seats, riveted carbon steel bodies and very little in the way of climate control. Then came along new vehicles built from shiny stainless steel or aluminum that traveled at twice the speed, with twice the acceleration and featured fully climate controlled interiors with plush synthetic materials and florescent lighting. When one of these new trains pulled up it would have been little different for someone at the time to have stepped on board some sort of flying saucer. Sealing the deal were intentional design elements to mimic the then new Jet Airliners.
- The State of the Art Cars best embody this trope as they were specifically designed to be futuristic as to promote to the general public what their transit systems could be like with a little funding. The carpeted, pleather and plastic wood interior really didn't age well.
- Similar designs based on very clean lines and very hard-wearing materials like plastic-wood seemed to have been all the rage in the early 1970s. Communist Eastern European governments adopted similar designs for public services like mass transit, buses and hospitals. By the 1980s they were not only out of fashion, but also looked horrible due to wear and tear.
- Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.
- Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. No disrespect to Eero Saarinen's memory intended. It's a beautiful design to this day, but it's ... very 1958.
- The Hong Kong Police and Judiciary still uses 1.44MB floppy disks for some documents, new governmental computer installations in mid 2011 still have to come with an external floppy drive to read these. The Legco members also recieved floppy disks before an environmental department pollicy address.
- The Austrian made, 1970ies Assaultrifle Steyr AUG, while looking rather futuristic with it´s plastic housing and Bullpup settup then, looks about as old as it is today.
- Steampunk in general is founded on the notion of "what's wrong with a little Zeerust, anyway?" Most of the fashion sensibilities are neo-Victorian, and the tech is Victorian-era science fiction turned Up to Eleven on the Crazy Awesome dial.
- Geodesic domes. For a while in the early 1970s it was thought that these would BE! the architecture! of! The Future! Stewart Brand, an enthusiastic advocate of them at the time, explains in How Buildings Learn why they were not: they're actually wasteful of building materials (cutting equilateral triangles out of rectangular sheets of plywood), they weren't space-efficient (very hard to subdivide internally and with far too much wasted space above head height), they're by nature inexpandable (if the dome isn't big enough you have to build something onto it), and no matter what anyone did, they leaked like the upturned sieves they resembled. As Brand admits, "When my generation outgrew the domes, we simply left them empty, like hatchlings leaving their eggshells."
- Scientology scripture is loaded with this. "H-bombs", Douglas DC-2s, passenger trains, and fedoras fill the universe and have for millions of years. Alien races are explicitly stated to look, dress, and live like human beings of the 1940s and 1950s, fedoras and all, and to have done so for millennia. ENIAC-era computer terminology is also heavily used.
- Even worse, Scientology has spaceplanes that look like "Douglas DC-8s without propellers".
- actually, repurposed place names
- The DC-8 is a jet plane