The Secret History of the Future

11 EpisodesProduced by Slate Podcasts

Journey into the past and you'll discover the secret history of the future. From the world's first cyber-attack in 1834, to 19th-century virtual reality, The Economist's Tom Standage and Slate's Seth Stevenson examine the historical precedents that can transform our understanding of modern technolog… read more

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10: Infinite Scroll

November 7th, 2018

The Renaissance scholars couldn’t keep up with new information (“Have you read the latest Erasmus book?” “I don’t have time!”) and needed a better …

09: A Little Less Conversation

October 31st, 2018

Some people thought the laying of the transatlantic cable might bring world peace, because connecting humans could only lead to better understanding …

08: VR or It Didn’t Happen

October 24th, 2018

In the Victorian era, plaster casts became a way to preserve important artifacts in 3-D. Now, virtual reality promises to preserve places and …

07: A Clock in the Sky

October 17th, 2018

In 1714, British parliament offered a huge cash prize to anyone who could find a way to determine longitude at sea. And it worked, sort of ... …

06: From Zero to Selfie

October 10th, 2018

In 1969, an anthropologist introduced photographs and films to people in Papua New Guinea who’d never seen themselves represented in media before. It …

05: Human Insecurity

October 3rd, 2018

The French telegraph system was hacked in 1834 by a pair of thieves who stole financial market information -- effectively conducting the world’s …

04: The Fault In Our Cars

September 26th, 2018

The first pedestrian killed by a car in the western hemisphere was on New York’s Upper West Side in 1899.  One newspaper warned that “the automobile has tasted blood.” Today, driverless cars present their own mix of …

03: Fork Fashions and Toilet Trends

September 19th, 2018

It took a long time for the fork to go from weird curiosity to ubiquitous tool. How long will it take for current technologies -- like the …

02: The Body Electric

September 12th, 2018


We’ve used electricity to treat our brains for thousands of years, from placing electric fish on our heads to cure migraines to using …

01: The Box That A.I. Lives In

September 5th, 2018

In the 18th century, a device called the Mechanical Turk convinced Europeans that a robot could play winning chess. But there was a trick. It’s a …

Season 1 Trailer

August 6th, 2018


Examine the history of tech to uncover stories that help us illuminate the present and predict the future. 

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