In 1895, Paul Otlet invented the first search engine: he accepted factual queries by mail, and combed through his collection of over 400,000 index cards for the answers. But even more impressive are Otlet’s remarkably prescient essays on the future information technology. In his 1934 work, “Traité de documentation,” Otlet envisions a future where, instead of reading from books, people will call for information to be sent to a screen on their workspace. And books, phonographs, telephones, and television will all become interlinked. [via The Speculist]