I find this to be far the most interesting part of this article. Why was it that they missed this aspect? Was it just something they overlooked, or was it that people could not envision connecting with each other through technology?
Interesting to think about.
Wikipedia is what it is today because of the collaborative nature of its editing process. I have no doubt that the "Intelligent Encyclopedia" envisioned by Atari didn't even dream of the possibility of it being community-edited.
The key is not actually even the wireless; remember, these are from 1982 when the internet as we know it did not yet exist. It is the global connectivity, period, not the wireless.
Technology makes us more human, not less.
Technology creates new verbs ("email" me; "like" me, "follow" me). But we embrace only language that makes us more human, not less.
People think that technology colonizes us. On the contrary, we colonize technology.
However, humanity has good and evil sides. Trouble brews when the evil colonizes more effectively than the good. Preventing this is itself a "wicked problem."
They didn't figure on copyright being locked for very many years?
Also, the future is all-white. (Unless you're in Japan.) That wouldn't happen today.
*not near as pervasive in '82
Yes, today it would include the token black person...
(Whereas the conditions re: black/white in income, the workforce, high paid positions, university deegress and such haven't changed much, if at all).
So, a win for hypocrisy.
It's interesting to note some of the subtle mis-predictions. The blog post already mentions the incorrect uses, so I'll skip that. Most of the technology depicted would be considered very bulky these days. Also, many of the non-mobile displays are small by our standards.
I wonder what mistakes our 30-year predictions will make.
My favorite not-implemented Atari Labs memo, fwiw, was Brenda Laurel's suggestion that they design games for dolphins and humans to play together: http://www.kmjn.org/snippets/laurel82_dolphinvideogame.html
Despite the fact that VALVe makes games, they're unlike any other gaming company out there right now. The Minecraft team is a few iterations and portfolio additions away from that same tier.
But this one is neither surprisingly correct
(laptops for all, wireless communication and an online encyclopedia? You don't say!)
nor completely off the mark
(mostly ok, missed a few things like the public internet, thin laptops and tablets).
edit: I believe it was Webster's Second that was supposed to be the 'cream of the crop'. This is discussed in the podcast.
One reason why people may have missed the "linking people to people" thing is the cost. I have no idea how a 1988 $ compares to today, but $11 per hour is incredibly expensive.
"Millions of terminals were handed out free to telephone subscribers, resulting in a high penetration rate among businesses and the public. In exchange for the terminal, the possessors of Minitel would not be given free "white page" printed directories (alphabetical list of residents and firms), but only the yellow pages (classified commercial listings, with advertisements); the white pages were accessible for free on Minitel, and they could be searched by a reasonably intelligent search engine; much faster than flipping through a paper directory."
It was noteworthy for the coding discussions.
That's one prediction that was dead on and will probably still be accurate in thirty years: kids will always be kids.
"Look darling, it says I'm right, the wine that comes in bottles is better than that stuff you get in a box!"
An online encyclopedia is easy to predict; a user-editable one is a lot more difficult, and there's no evidence this source got there.
It's easy to count hits when you ignore the fact they're misses.
As for user-editable I can find two predictions which might qualify.
First, Vannevar Bush's Memex:
"Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified. The lawyer has at his touch the associated opinions and decisions of his whole experience, and of the experience of friends and authorities. The patent attorney has on call the millions of issued patents, with familiar trails to every point of his client's interest. The physician, puzzled by a patient's reactions, strikes the trail established in studying an earlier similar case, and runs rapidly through analogous case histories, with side references to the classics for the pertinent anatomy and histology. ... The historian, with a vast chronological account of a people, parallels it with a skip trail which stops only on the salient items, and can follow at any time contemporary trails which lead him all over civilization at a particular epoch. There is a new profession of trail blazers, those who find delight in the task of establishing useful trails through the enormous mass of the common record. The inheritance from the master becomes, not only his additions to the world's record, but for his disciples the entire scaffolding by which they were erected."
-- As We May Think (1945)
Douglas Adams managed to predict the user-editable encyclopedia in 1982's "Life, The Universe and Everything": "most of the actual work [on the Hitch-hiker's Guide] got done by any passing stranger who happened to wander into the empty offices of an afternoon and saw something worth doing."
But he didn't predict an online one, in the series at the time, HG2G was a local e-book or database-type encyclopedia that was updated via the Sub-Etha network.
Vannevar Bush had some amazing insights in 1945 about the future direction of storage:
"The Encyclopædia Britannica could be reduced to the volume of a matchbox. A library of a million volumes could be compressed into one end of a desk".
* Ask yourself what you used to search before Google? In fact, remember Web Rings?
* How did you share pictures before Facebook, Myspace, or Flickr?
* How about the holy grail of watching videos online before Youtube (Otherwise known as the dark ages of Real Player)?
* Remember when you had to print out Mapquest directions to somebody's house? God forbid you missed a turn! When was the last time you consulted a paper map other than for fun?
* How did you deal with the mountains of spam before Gmail, or any other industrial strength spam filter?
* How about getting the internet on your cell phone?
* When was the last time you had to pay for WiFi? Granted there are some holdouts, like airports, but WiFi is practically everywhere. If you can get into a Starbucks you have access, for free, to the internet.
* How about downloading a 10mb file in less than an hour? God help you if the connection was interrupted...
The things we do today are astounding in both the scope of their capabilities and how much we take them for granted.
I was really surprised when I originally read this in the "Goofs" list for the Hurt Locker.
Very useful when traveling in a world where 3G roaming is still prohibitively expensive, much like it would probably be for intergalactic hitchikers.
Being charitable isn't the same as lying about what people back then actually thought.
Can't find anything on how Alan Kay envisioned authorship of the Intelligent Encyclopedia, but it wouldn't surprise me if he looked at a democratic encyclopedia as Leonardo may have flight: lacking the exact design but having faith that it would work "eventually".
In the late 1890s, Lord Kelvin said,
I am afraid I am not in the flight for "aerial navigation". [...]
I have not the smallest molecule of faith in [it] other than
ballooning or of expectation of good results from any of the
trials we hear of. 
 Often inaccurately summarized as "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible"; http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/William_Thomson
Makes me wonder if all these "Vision of the Future" videos that companies put out now are equally as pointless.
An exception to this seems to have been the Courier fold out touch screen computer. It did look way complicated though.
It's not particularly useful anticipating a brilliant piece of technology if you can't capitalise on it.
Augmented reality concepts have been around for a long time, and whoever gets it right will become insanely rich. The rest of us will get to enjoy it :)