The Onion Headline That Predicted The Creation Of Netflix

There's a whole lot of new technological developments we use on a daily basis now that would've been unheard of 25 years ago: Smartphones, Roombas, Apple Watches, the list goes on. But one idea in the realm of entertainment remained so farfetched and fantastical in 1998, it warranted an Onion article. The nutty idea in question? Netflix.

Years before the Streaming Age, live broadcasts on the web were infamous for being painfully slow and full of glitches (not to mention the sweet sounds of a dial-up modem buzzing and hissing in frustration). Although technology was making swift evolutions during the late 1990s into the early 2000s, the idea of watching an entire movie or TV show on the computer was still far beyond the imagination. It was futuristic enough to be laughable.

A glimpse into the future

The sci-fi development detailed in a 1998 article dubbed "New $5,000 Multimedia Computer System Downloads Real-Time TV Programs, Displays Them On Monitor" detailed a 75-minute download of an eight minute segment of an NBC sitcom. Although it may have chastised the "grainy" image streaming at "six frames per second," it's certain that the author of the article was onto something major: "Imagine watching TV at the click of a mouse, instead of a remote control," the faux-director of product development Bill Welborne 'told' The Onion. "With the Compaq Presario 6000 and a few reasonably priced add-ons, you'll never have to watch TV on a television again."

"More exciting still, the viewing can occur in real-time concurrent with the download, provided the user owns a dedicated T1 Internet connection," the article joked. Who knew that, less than a decade later, Netflix would trigger a revolution at the intersection of technology and entertainment that changed the way many made and consumed television.