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Here’s an Ad for Google’s Project Glass, from 2000 and Made by IBM

Remember Google’s Project Glass? The product that’s going to put a heads-up display in a pair of glasses and catapult us into a cyberpunk future? Well, true to the adage above, the idea isn’t really all that new. In fact, IBM showed a mockup of what they thought the future of computing would be, and even made a weird ad out of it. Cast your mind back to 2000, and relive this creepily prophetic vision.

The ad, called “Park Bench,” was aired in 2000 and featured an over-enthusiastic young man trading pork belly futures in Venice’s St. Mark’s Square. Ever since Google trotted out its Project Glass, I haven’t been able to get this guy’s shrill voice out of my head. “Buy it!” He screams, as the pigeons scatter. “Buy it buy it buy it buuuuyyy iiiiiiit!”

Besides the fact that I haven’t been able to completely forget this ad in the past dozen years, it does present an interesting view of the future. Instead of a heads-up display, it’s a clearly recognizable desktop like you would see on Mac OS 8 or Windows XP. It even has folders. The hypothetical device uses hands-free voice navigation, which even in this imaginary scenario doesn’t quite work right. He does everything but call it Siri.

I think the real difference between now and 2000 is that we use computers in a completely different way. So much of the modern Internet is about communication and media consumption. We’re far more concerned these days with Twitter and Netflix than processed meat futures. Then again, IBM is a business company.

Still, with wearable computing on Google’s horizon, Apple selling what amounts to a modern version of the Casio calculator watch, and 3D back in theaters, it really does feel like everything old is new again.

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