In this golden age of technology, it seems like new breakthroughs and advancements are being made every day. While some of these innovations are completely unique to their creators, many of the gadgets and devices we use daily were inspired by works of fiction.
Considered to be ahead of their time when first proposed, these 20 technologies changed the world as we knew it, all because a group of inventors dared to turn fiction into reality. It’s safe to say our lives would be totally different without them.
1. Star Wars – Hologram Performances: The technology behind your favorite late artists performing as holograms was actually inspired by the famous scene with R2D2 in Star Wars.
2. War of the Worlds – The Multistage Rocket: American scientist Robert Goddard developed the multistage rocket technology still used in the space launches today after reading this famous sci-fi novel.
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey – The Tablet: Stanley Kubrick’s masterwork is considered to be the first appearance of this fun little device. The film was even used in a defense against Apple when they attempted to copyright their iPad tablet technology.
4. 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea – The Submarine: This nautical tale inspired American inventor Simon Lake to develop an undersea vessel. Jules Verne, the author of the novel, even sent Lake a letter of congratulations after learning of his invention.
5. Dial F For Frankenstein – The World Wide Web: In 1972, sci-fi writer Arthur Clark penned a story about a series of telephones that eventually turn on their creators. An MIT student by the name of Tim Berners-Lee was so inspired by this idea he used it as the foundation for the modern Internet.
6. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus – The Defibrillator: Mary Shelley’s book didn’t just raise the notion of using electricity to create life. In fact, numerous medical experts have cited Shelley’s novel as the inspiration behind the modern defibrillator.
7. Star Trek – The Cell Phone: Inspired by the communication technology used by the crew of the Enterprise, Martin Cooper went on to invent the first iteration of the cell phone in 1973.
8. Robur the Conqueror – The Helicopter: Jules Verne is once again credited for inspiring an innovation in travel. Impressed with the author’s 1886 novel, engineer Igor Sikorsky would go on to build the world’s first helicopter.
9. Metropolis – Video Calls: The first recorded appearance of the concept of video calling was in the 1927 film Metropolis, which would go on to inspire the technology behind Skype and FaceTime.
10. Dick Tracy – The Smart Watch: This technology was actually introduced by comic book detective Dick Tracy during several of his outer space adventures in the 1960’s.
11. Blade Runner – Digital Billboards: While Philip K. Dick’s original novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? introduced a number of advanced technologies, Ridley Scott’s film adaptation gave us the concept of video billboards.
12. Fahrenheit 451 – The 3D Printer: Ray Bradbury’s novel features the first 3D printer, which is used throughout the novel to print tools, weapons, and other supplies on the fly.
13. Looking Backward – Credit Cards: Author Edward Bellamy predicted that by around the second millennium, the most popular currency would be in card form and could be used on a global scale.
14. Sally – Self-Driving Cars: Published in 1953, Isaac Asimov’s short story predicted that all cars would be automated by 2057, but hopefully we can accomplish this sooner.
15. Star Trek: The Next Generation – QuickTime: On the Enterprise, computers allowed the crew to view multiple forms of media on one screen. This inspired Apple’s Steve Perlman to create QuickTime in 1991.
16. The Fatal Eggs – Laser Beams: While most credit H.G. Wells with the idea, Mikhail Bulgakov actually proposed a laser-producing experiment in his 1925 novel. Nearly 40 years later, Bulgakov’s experiment would be recreated to produce laser beams in real life.
17. Peacetime Uses for V2 – Satellites: British writer Arthur C. Clarke proposed a series of geostationary communication satellites. While it didn’t garner much attention at the time, an array of satellites–dubbed the “Clarke Belt”–can be seen orbiting the Earth today.
18. Triplanetary – Combat Information Center: A main feature of the Directrix command ship in E.E. Smith’s Triplanetary, the author’s fictional equivalent of a C.I.C. would go on to inspire a U.S. naval officer to introduce the concept onto new ships.
19. The Shockwave Rider – The Computer Virus: John Brunner’s 1975 novel introduced the world to the concept of a “worm” that replicates itself in order to spread to other computers. Seven years later, two Xerox researchers made it a reality!
20. Waldo – The Mechanical Arm: Robert A. Heinlein’s short story revolves around technological innovations, one of which being the mechanical arm. Used primarily in automated factories, these robotic appendages have even been nicknamed “Waldo” after Heinlein’s tale.
Can you imagine what our world would look like without these futurists and their works? Maybe their science wasn’t so fictional after all.
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