Some of the predictions were accurate, some maybe not so much. It's the nature of predictions. —Dave Davis, president of the Utah Retail Association and Utah Food Association
SALT LAKE CITY — In 1959, the microchip was introduced to the world and in October of that year the Soviet Union launched Luna 3, the first spacecraft to circle the moon.
A month later a group of Salt Lake City leaders gathered on a corner of downtown Salt Lake City and wrote down their vision of what life would be like in Utah when the century turned, predicting floating cars, moving sidewalks and climate controlled clothes.
The predictions, a few newspapers and one very special promise were slipped into a container and sealed into a wall of the Crandall Building, forgotten until renovations brought the unlikely discovery 52 years later.
"I noticed a box and I thought it was a circuit breaker, but there were no pipes," said building engineer Le Vongsayo, who came upon the time capsule while working to restore the facade of the building on Salt Lake City's Main Street and 100 South several weeks ago.
The time capsule was meant to be opened in 2000 and was placed in the outside wall of the former First Federal Savings Bank at 78 S. Main. Building owner Robert Crandall said the bank closed the branch's doors in the 1970s, and First Federal was acquired by Washington Federal Savings in 1993. The box was forgotten.
Inside the box was a letter dated Nov. 25, 1959, from bank president Matt Dye explaining that the time capsule was to commemorate the grand opening of the bank. A passbook savings account with a deposit of $50 to be given to the first baby born in Utah in 2000 was inside as were a number of newspapers, including a copy of the Deseret News with headlines reading "U.S. Moon Rocket Fizzles" and "U.S. population to hit 179 million on Friday" (the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population is now more than 311 million).
Perhaps the most interesting contents of the capsule were letters from Salt Lake City leaders predicting what life would be like in 2000.
Arthur F. Kelly, vice president of Western Airlines, predicted people would be able to get their mail via rockets.
"All cargo and mail in remote areas from Salt Lake will be delivered by missiles and rockets — radio controlled from point of origin to destination," Kelly wrote.
Kelly also said vehicles would be "controlled by thrust and will be moving slightly above the surface of the earth."
Stanford Darger, manager of the Retail Merchants Bureau, said clothes would be heated and cooled using coils similar to electric blankets.
"Woven into our summer clothing will be coils for cooling," Darger wrote. "It is probable that neckties and cuff buttons will not be part of men's clothing in the year 2000, and men and women will wear considerably brighter colors."
Gus P. Backman, secretary of the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce in 1959, said Main Street would extend from downtown Salt Lake City north past Brigham City and south past Provo. He predicted the population of Utah would be more than 3 million in 2000, a figure the state has yet to reach in 2012.
Newspaper Agency Corp. General Manager Anton F. Peterson couldn't have forseen how the Internet would revolutionize how people receive news. But he predicted newspapers would be "printed right in the subscriber's homes by means of electronic transmission and reproduction."
He also said a "sound-producing machine" would play the newspaper for subscribers to listen to instead of reading.
Former University of Utah President Albert Ray Olpin said he expected televisions "in the form of wall panels" to be in classrooms and most rooms in peoples' homes. He said he believed educational programming would be available at any time "at the flip of a switch."
"Albert Olpin was a very visionary president," said Dr. David Pershing, current University of Utah president, unsurprised at Olpin's accurate predictions. "He actually did have a lot of things right."
When asked what he thought what life would be like in 2065, 53 years in the future, Pershing predicted technology would continue to progress and students then will be as unfamiliar with keyboards as students today are with punchcards.
"Interaction with the computing world will be completley verbal or even nonverbal," he said. "I think by then we will no longer be limited by computer speed."
Pershing predicted that paper money will be obsolete, flight could be transonic and most cars will be electric.
"I think that the energy supply will be much more based on solar," he said, explaining most cars could be electric.
Pershing predicted the University of Utah will continue to grow and adapt to educational needs.
"The University of Utah will have grown to 100,000 students in multiple campuses across the state," he said. "Graduate education will be more important than it is today. I think electronic education will be ubiquitous."
He also predicted the Utes would have won the Rose Bowl "at least five times" by 2065.
Dave Davis, president of the Utah Retail Association and Utah Food Association, said he found the predictions interesting.
"Some of the predictions were accurate, some maybe not so much," he said. "It's the nature of predictions."
Asked to mirror his 1959 counterpart with predictions of his own, Davis focused on how businesses would reach customers.
"No longer (will) we market to the masses," he said, explaining companies would target individuals and there will be "a market of one."
Davis said he predicts the ease of shopping and commerce will continue to improve and he expects even more growth in the function of mobile devices.
"Smartphones are going to become smarter and smarter," he said.
Rich Walje, president of Rocky Mountain Power, who read the predictions of his predecessor, also made some of his own about life in 2065.
"Electricity is going to be even more pervasive," he said, citing medicine and home entertainment as some of the areas that will use more electricity in the future.
"I think you'll soon see real-time 3-D hologram television in your house," he said. "Your home entertainment will be more immersive."
Walje said he believes there will be "wireless everything in your homes" and there will be major breakthroughs in the next 50 years with nuclear technology.
"I do think you're going to see breakthroughs in nuclear technology that makes it smaller and safe."
Predictions are free. But what of the bank account promised to the first child born in Utah in 2000?
Washington Federal, the bank that acquired First Federal Savings Bank in 1993, was on hand last week to make good on that 1959 promise.
Brinlee Millenia Shepard, now 12, was born at half a second past midnight on Jan. 1, 2000. The West Jordan girl was excited to find out about the time capsule when she received a phone call about it, her mother, Natalie Shepard, said. But they had no idea what would come next.
She was presented with a Washington Federal passbook savings account with $1,000 after calculating a 5 percent interest rate paid out since 1959 with daily compounding. The bank tacked on a few hundred more dollars and presented Brinlee with the money.
"That was totally unexpected," Natalie Shepard said. "We're going to start a savings account."9 comments on this story
While her mother said the money will go toward Brinlee's education, the girl quickly offered "or my car" as another suggestion.
"You should share it," her 8-year-old brother Braxton suggested. "I don't have that much money."
To see Brinlee Shepard's surprise reaction to getting the savings account, and more on the time capsule, watch KSL 5 Monday evening.