Top Ten Inventions Predicted by Sci-Fi Authors
by Tripp Bond
- Geostationary Communications Satellites: In a magazine called Wireless World, famous science fiction author Sir Arthur C. Clarke proposed that one day there would be geosynchronous satellites created for communications purposes. At the time, it was not taken seriously but almost 20 years later it became a reality.
[Pete’s note: check out the original article here, it’s a good read!]
- Video Communications (Skype, Facetime, etc.): In his novel Ralph 124c 41+, Hugo Gernsback predicted video communications using cameras and microphones. A technology that today relies heavily upon Clarke’s satellites.
- Television and Channel Surfing: Speaking of Gernsback, in the same book he predicts that there would televisions and mindless channel surfing, along with remote control devices.
- Radar: Ok, so Gernsback must have been the Nostradamus of inventions. In the same book he also predicts radar in eerie detail. Arthur C. Clarke said that it was, “…the first accurate description of radar, complete with diagram…” in his book Glide Path.
- Tablets: Taking a u-turn from Gernsback (the guy could seriously have the entire list to himself predicting solar energy, transatlantic flight, etc) and returning to Clarke we see he predicted the tablet. In his most famous novel, 2001: A Space Odyssey, he speaks of individuals using a “newspad”: a flat computer that people tap directly onto the screen of to get their news.
- The Internet and Social Media: Mark Twain was a brilliant man remembered most for his tales of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. However, he predicted the internet and social media and believed both would be accessible by phones. In his short story “From the London Times in 1904”, he records that using a new telephonic device dubbed the telelectroscope would allow people to share their daily lives and the news almost instantly with anyone around the world and would be accessible by all people. He even predicted that they would be used by what we call cell-phones. Although, he called it the “‘limitless distance’ telephone”. With it one could pull up any corner of the globe and see its goings on and dialogue with almost anyone.
- Currency Cards: In his utopian novel Looking Backward, Edward Bellamy predicted that one day cards would be used as currency. In 1950 the first credit cards were invented.
- CCTV/Government Abuse of Surveillance: In his famous novel 1984, George Orwell predicted that for “security purposes” the governments of the world would be able to perpetually surveil their citizens. In the modern world this is readily becoming a reality with CCTV cameras and with abuses of personal digital devices, in America at least, by the NSA exposed by Edward Snowden.
- Lunar Capsules: In Jules Verne’s book From the Earth to the Moon, many eerie things were predicted about the lunar missions. From the launch site in Florida to the flight capsule’s name (Columbiad in the book and Columbia in real life), the novel has fascinated individuals for years with its accurate prophecies. One of the most stunning predictions was that of the “splashdown” lunar capsules; lunar landers which, upon re-entry, would “splashdown” in the ocean.
- Electric Submarines: Speaking of Jules Verne, he also imagined the electric submarine. In Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Captain Nemo’s submarine, the Nautilus, in an electrical submersible vehicle with eerie similarities to modern luxury submarines. Verne also predicted many other inventions such as solar sails and the taser.
These are our picks for the top ten inventions originally thought up by sci-fi authors. Do you agree with our selections? What are your favorites that you missed? Let us know in the comments!