Science fiction inspired a lot of the most beneficial innovations we use today.
There are times when you don't need a science degree to make waves in the world of science and technology. As several science fiction writers can attest, maybe all you'd need is a pen, a notebook, and an awesome imagination. From Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek franchise, science fiction offers a wealth of cool, imaginative ideas. So without further ado, here are five inventions that had their earliest beginnings in science fiction.
A sci-fi novel served as an early inspiration to John Biggins, inventor of the credit card.
Author Edward Bellamy first coined the term “credit card” in his 1888 novel Looking Backward, 2000-1887. The novel was about a time traveler who found that the future was a utopia. In this utopian society, each citizen possessed the aforementioned credit card. At the beginning of the year, each citizen is given credit equivalent to his or share in the nation's gross annual product.
Fans of Star Trek know that the franchise is one of the most progressive shows in television history. In Star Trek, you'll see a lot of different gizmos, gadgets, and technologies set in the distant space-faring future. However, that distance in time isn't daunting for an enterprising mind that wants to gain those technologies in the present. A device, called a “communicator” in the show, inspired the invention of the first mobile phone by Martin Cooper in 1973.
To Cooper, then Motorola's R&D Director, science fiction wasn't fantasy. Instead, “it's an objective.”
There's no disputing that Apple's Steve Jobs was a genius. However, when he unveiled the first iPad in 2010, science fiction geeks probably thought that they've seen a similar device before.
In 1968, Stanley Kubrick produced and directed the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film was based on a novel written by Arthur C. Clark. In the novel, characters used a touchscreen device called a “newspad”. The film, meanwhile, showed astronauts looking using rectangular devices that looked a lot like today's iPads. Star Trek also showed a similar device in the 90s.
We all know Frankenstein's monster. Whether we've read the novel or simply seen cartoons where the monster makes an appearance, we know the name Frankenstein. What we may not know is that Mary Shelley's novel may have influenced the advent of organ transplants. In her novel, she also depicts the use of electricity to bring a corpse to life. This is reminiscent of the use of defibrillators.
Where would we be without the Internet? Perhaps we'd be out and about in the sunshine more, but a little pastiness never hurt anyone. We can thank Arthur C. Clark once again for this innovation. The World Wide Web's inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, cites Clark's 1964 story Dial F for Frankenstein as his inspiration. In this particular story, computers are able to communicate with each other, much like how the Internet works. This shows that when it comes to science fiction, life oftentimes imitates art.
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