Retrofuturist Flashback: Future Cops, 1886


Judge Dredd, 1886? Cartoon Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images

What's the future of law enforcement? Back in 1987, we envisioned the ultra-violent world of "RoboCop." A century earlier, we imagined electric Bobbies.

This, according to an 1886 edition of the British humor magazine Punch, is what a futuristic police officer will look like. As the satiric details suggest, we can imagine him crackling with electricity as he patrols the streets of London, occasionally stopping to bludgeons and electrocute criminals with his high-tech gladiator equipment.

Anyway, I want them on the next season of "Peaky Blinders."


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.