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British schoolgirl predicted ZOOM in 1969

British schoolgirl predicted ZOOM in 1969: Family finds letter down back of sofa more than 50 years after pupil penned note forecasting the future

  • Letter found by upholsterer Peter Beckerton, 67, and wife Rosa in Peterborough 
  • Three-seater bought at an auction and sent to be restored in Cambridgeshire 
  • Pupil, then 11, suggested that phone calls would be ‘a bit like television’ in 1980 
  • Do YOU know who wrote the letter? Email [email protected] 

A remarkable letter penned by a British schoolgirl more than 50 years ago which predicted the invention of Zoom has been found down the back of a refurbished sofa.  

The note, written in 1969, is believed to have been part of a school project in which students suggested what they thought life would be like in 1980. 

It was found hidden down the back of a three-seater sofa, which had been bought second-hand at auction and sent to be restored by an upholsterer in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. 

The letter predicts the rise of a video call platform like Zoom, with the unidentified pupil writing: ‘In 1969 the telephone was a square box thing with a resiver [sic] on top of it.

‘But now it is still a resiver [sic], but you can see the people you are talking to, for there is a screen where you can see the people. It is a bit like a television.’ 

The note, penned in 1969, is believed to have been part of a school project in which students suggested what they thought life would be like in 1980. Pictured: Rosa Beckerton, whose husband found the letter

The girl, then 11, also suggests there could be outlandish innovations like all three meals being provided through chewing gum.

The letter was found by upholsterer Peter Beckerton, 67, and his wife Rosa, 66.

It is understood the sofa was purchased at an auction house in Stamford, Lincolnshire before being sent to be restored. 

‘My husband works as an upholsterer, and he found it down the side of a sofa that he was upholstering for a customer,’ Mrs Beckerton said.

‘They had no idea it was there. It was really surprising. When my husband showed it to me I couldn’t believe it. I thought oh my god, look at this.

‘It was just so interesting, because looking at it today she’s got a lot of her predictions kind of right – but in her childish innocent way she thought it would all happen in ten years.

‘It didn’t have any name on it unfortunately, but it was marked ‘Good’ by the teacher, which I thought was nice.

The letter appears to predict the rise of a video call platform like Zoom, with the unidentified pupil writing: ‘In 1969 the telephone was a square box thing with a resiver [sic] on top of it’


The girl, then 11, also suggests there could be outlandish innovations like all three meals being provided through chewing gum. Pictured: The letter

‘I just wanted to share it in the hopes that maybe the author might see it and recognise it.

‘My husband has found all sorts of rubbish down the side of sofas and furniture before – but never anything as interesting as this.’

The letter, dated February 23, 1969, read: ‘The year is 1980, the time is half-past moon dust. Here I am twenty-one years of age, sitting in a cushion of air.

‘I remember when I was 11 years old and I was at school, things have changed since then. For instance, the television has changed.

‘In 1969 it was a square box with knobs in front of it. Now it is a big screen with knobs on your chair arm to switch it on and off.

After explaining her invention of the video call which is ‘a bit like television’, the pupil – who would now be 62 – concludes: ‘Really when I think back over those ten years, things have changed tremendously’

‘I am married and I work in a bank, dealing with money. I have always wanted to be a bank assistant.

‘Well, my husband will be home from work, but I have no tea to prepare like we did in 1969.

‘All we have is a piece of chewing gum to eat. You may think that we have not enough to eat but you are wrong, because this piece of chewing gum is food.

‘You chew this gum and you can feel the food going down. You can also taste it. There is no messy washing-up to do afterwards.

Do YOU know who wrote the letter?

Email: [email protected] 

‘Here’s my husband now. “Press the button, dear”. What I mean is press the button for the door to open, you see our doors are electric doors.

‘”Hello dear,” he said to me. “I’ve just got to ring up my friend on the telephone”.

‘”Well you’d better tidy yourself up a bit,” I said.’

After explaining her invention of the video call which is ‘a bit like television’, the pupil – who would now be 62 – concludes: ‘Really when I think back over those ten years, things have changed tremendously.’ 

It comes as a recent report on the future of technology predicted underwater highways, hoverboard-based sports and holidays in space could be commonplace by 2069.

The report also predicted the mass-scale production of 3D-printed organs, implants to monitor our health and self-cleaning homes will be key parts of everyday life.  

The predictions were compiled by a group of academics and futurists, including TechUK president and co-chair of the Institute of Coding Jacqueline de Rojas, director of engineering and education at the Royal Academy of Engineering, Dr Rhys Morgan and food futurologist Dr Morgaine Gaye. 

Other predictions included interactive movies, in which a viewer would physically take part in the action via virtual reality technology, alongside flying buses and taxis.

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