It turns out that there’s more to a good science fiction story than keeping readers entertained. Some tales have inspired or predicted technology that still is in use today.
From mobile technology, to the worldwide web itself, some of the greatest inventions of the 20th and early 21st centuries owe their origin to the imagination of writers of books and TV series.
Mobile Phones – Dick Tracy And Star Trek
The former director of research and development for mobile phone manufacturer Motorola, Martin Cooper had the idea to create portable cellular telephones in 1973. It took more than a decade to make the idea a reality, but he eventually succeeded, and became the first person to make a call on a cell phone.
In interviews, Cooper said his idea was inspired by the comic book detective Dick Tracy’s wrist radio and the communicators used by characters such as Captain Kirk in the early Star Trek tv series.
Tablets – 2001: A Space Odyssey
In 2011, Apple slapped Samsung with a lawsuit in which the tech giant claimed that the rival company had infringed on the patented design of the iPad to create the Galaxy tablet. As part of Samsung’s defence, the company used a scene from Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The company’s lawyers claimed that the real inspiration behind the tech was the Newspad, a fictitious mini flatscreen computer used by Gary Lockwood’s and Keir Dullea’s characters to watch TV. The judge was not convinced and ruled out that piece of evidence. If you have a tablet, you can use it to enjoy online casino gambling and to watch TV.
The Internet – Dial F For Frankenstein
When Tim Berners-Lee was nine years old, he read Arthur C. Clark’s Dial F For Frankenstein in an issue of Playboy magazine. In the story, telephones start communicating with one another in code and begin playing pranks on humans. Things take a darker turn when the telephones create a network and cause chaos that leads to the end of the world.
The story was one of Berners-Lee’s ideas of communication and data networks. It ultimately led him to create the worldwide web after studying at MIT.
The Defibrillator – Frankenstein
Published in 1818, Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein is a classic of science fiction literature. It tells the story of Dr Frankenstein, who stitches together parts from various bodies and brings it to life using electricity.
Although Shelley’s story did not inspire the defibrillator, it did predict it. The device uses electricity to restart the human heart by delivering a powerful shock after the heart has stopped beating.
The Submarine – 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
Published in 1870, Jules Verne’s novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea describes Captain Nemo’s ship, the Nautilus, which is capable of undersea travel. American inventor Simon Lake read the novel in the year it was published, and he became fascinated by the idea of ships that can travel underwater.
He obviously put his fascination to good use, because in 1898, his company unveiled the first submarine capable of sailing in the open ocean.