In 1982, Atari Alan Kay collaborated with Bob Stein, who had consulted on the Encyclopedia Britannica, to develop concepts for an "Intelligent Encyclopedia." They then commissioned Disney illustrator Glenn Keane to illustrate their ideas. Despite being 30 years old, these images were remarkably prescient as to how wireless technology and digitally accessible information would permeate our lives.

It's amazing how perfectly ordinary these images look today — people working on tablets computers, wireless access to encyclopedias, laptops on airplanes. Stein notes that what they did miss, however, were the social connections associated with that technology (Edit: Which, as noted in the comments, would truly make it Wikipedia). Still, if the point was to imagine the digital, accessible-from-anywhere encyclopedia, they were right on target.

Read Stein's entire post over at if:book, where he includes captions for each image, which were also written in 1982. For example, for that top image:

A vintner in northern California wonders what would be involved in changing wine production to sake. On horseback he is asking the Intelligent Encyclopedia about soil and water requirements for growing rice.

That rancher almost looks like he's carrying an iPad, too.

Back to the Future — In honor of Encyclopedia Britannica giving up its print edition [if:book via Drawn]