Forward Thinking, Backward Driving:

A few years ago, I was given a box of old radio and television industry magazines.

During my initial skim-through of the material, an article caught my eye from the February 1961 edition of Radio-Electronics magazine.

The author, Manfred von Ardenne, speculated that for safety reasons, cars of the future would be driven backwards since rear-facing seating can provide superior head-to-toe shock absorption during a collision.

Picture of futuristic car from a 1961 magazine


Note that the driver would rely on a “panoramic” video monitor for his view ahead of the vehicle. The system would also boast infrared camera filters for improved vision in the fog.

Meanwhile, in the event of a catastrophic failure to the car’s closed-circuit video system — no worries! — an emergency periscope would be available to the driver.

Such was the technological optimism of 1961–