Ever wondered just what kind of technology the future holds?
You may not realize it, but much of the technology that exists today lurked in the daydreams of science fiction writers half a century ago. At the time of their writing, these science fiction ideas often seemed impossible—too fantastic to ever come true—and yet today’s technology seems to keep pace with the dreams of writers past.
Here are just a few of the crazy technologies from science fiction literature that turned into reality:
Laptop Computers: During the decades in which science fiction became popular, no one ever could have imagined just how ingrained computers would become in our everyday lives. So when James P. Hogan wrote about a computer that fit in a briefcase in Inherit the Stars he was clearly imagining a distant future technology. Now compact laptop computers are the norm, and such powerful technology continues to get smaller and more efficient every day.
The Radio: The music that you rock out to on your way to school may seem like the oldest technology around, but over a century ago this sort of technological concept belonged strictly in the realm of fantasy. So When Edward Bellamy wrote in 1888 about music halls transmitting music via telephone lines, he was ahead of his time.
Cultured meat: Scientists are just now beginning to discover the possibilities of meat grown in a lab instead of on an animal. Author Frederick Pohl anticipated this in his 1953 novel The Space Merchants. Yup, it tasted like chicken.
Video Communications: While you are video chatting with a friend, you may not realize that Jules Verne predicted just such a technology in his novel In The Year 2889, which was published in 1889.
Electronic Voting: Although the technology is still in its infancy, John Brunner first predicted this technology back in 1975 in his novel titled Shockwave Rider.
Cyberspace: Although it hasn’t quite reached the level of technology William Gibson predicted in 1986’s Burning Chrome, no one can deny that the Internet’s alternative worlds like Second Life are working towards the virtual more and more.
Automatic Doors: There’s no way H.G. Wells could have seen how ubiquitous this technology would become when he wrote about automatic sliding doors in When the Sleeper Wakes in 1899. Now we see what he wrote about when entering an everyday supermarket.
Credit Cards: Although they may seem commonplace today they were a far out technology when Edward Bellamy wrote about them in Looking Backward in 1888. He also had no idea how hard they were to pay off.
Technology has come a long way, but as this short list proves, it’s often just the realization of dreams human society has been having for years. This is because science fiction is a place where anything goes, and concepts that are not even remotely possible can be commonplace.
What science fiction technology dream do you want to see come true? It might be closer than you think.