Alvin Toffler, “Future Shock” Author, Dies at 87

Alvin Toffler, the author of “Future Shock,” died in his sleep at his home in Los Angeles. He was 87. Toffler was a futurist and he had predicted the economy’s shift from manufacturing to information technology along with the resultant social upheavals and anxiety. He is also credited with coining the phrase “information overload” to describe people’s struggles with keeping abreast of the data generated by computers and social media.

Toffler was born to Jewish Polish immigrants in New York City in 1928. He graduated from New York University and began his career writing for the pro-union “Labor’s Daily.” In the 1950s, the magazine “Fortune” hired him to be their labor columnist.

Toffler first used the phrase “future shock” in a 1965 magazine article called “The Future as a Way of Life.” He defined “future shock” as “too much change in too short a period of time.” Five years later, he published “Future Shock,” which came out during the turmoil caused by the Vietnam War and the growing civil rights movement. It sold millions of copies. In it, Toffler described such trends as the rising divorce rate as signs of societal changes that were accompanying the technological ones. He wrote two follow-ups, “The Third Wave” (1980) and “Power Shift” (1990).

Toffler is survived by his wife, Heidi, with whom he often collaborated on his books and other projects. They had had a daughter, Karen, who had died in 2000.