Life

‘All The Kids In The Future Wear Their Pants Inside Out’ — The Best And Worst Of 1989’s Predictions For 2015

This article is part of #Future, a new UPROXX section that covers where the world is headed and how things have changed since 1989. Powered by Toyota.

1988 was a special year. Not just because Poison taught the world about love and loss while answering the age old question “how many cowboys have a sad, sad song?” (answer: every one). The year was also special because three things happened:

1. Bob Gale wrote a script about life in 2015 (amongst other things) that would later be released as Back to the Future Part II in 1989.

2. A young journalist named Nicole Yorkin consulted with prominent futurists, engineers and artists to write an article that predicted life in Los Angeles in 2013 through a fictional account of a family in Granada Hills.

3. An engineer at Northrup Grumman named Jerry Lockenour read Nicole Yorkin’s article about the future of LA, and he liked the article so much that he filed it away.

Back to the Future II would go on to become an international blockbuster (and create a longing for hover boards that would haunt this author for much of his childhood), but Nicole Yorkin’s fantastic article was, sadly, lost to time. Nicole would eventually leave her Pulitzer-prize nominated journalism work for a successful career as a television writer and producer.

By 2015, everyone in the world had seemingly forgotten Nicole’s article. Everyone except Jerry Lockenour.

After a long career at Northrup Grumman, Jerry became a professor at USC. While he was teaching an engineering class about technological innovation, Professor Lockenour knew he had the perfect subject for his students: Nicole Yorkin’s article from 1988. Over the semester, Professor Lockenour and his students studied the predictions in the LA Times article, finding out what the futurists got right, what they got wrong and the reasons behind the hits and misses.

With October 21, 2015 — the date that Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to in Back to the Future Part II–only one day away, there is no better time to look back on the predictions made by the film and the LA Times article. Luckily, both Nicole Yorkin and Jerry Lockenour agreed to share their expertise about the future that we expected in 1988, and the reality that we have today with Uproxx.

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