Recently, Mashable’s compilation of ”Astounding Sci-Fi Predictions that Came True,” developed with the help of the Science Fiction Research Association, prompted us to “mash up” their examples into concepts more meaningful to CRE’s mix of marketing, technical, and management professionals. To the fine crew at that site, a combo of props, hat tip, and shout-out is respectfully proffered.
Some technologies take years to gestate. It can be a decade or millennium between the first notion of a new thing and its first working prototype. In CRE’s blog archive you’ll discover years of postings about Apple’s latest products, which taken together constitute a great lesson on how dreams came true for two guys named Steve. Other postings bring you useful reviews of the tools you use – mobile apps, office software, render farms – along with marketing tips, greening strategies, and all the tech news you need to stay current.
Today we tie up the loose ends of history by linking 10 near-magical technologies appearing in the recent Mashable list to the distant dreams that gave birth to them. We present Part 1 with examples 1 through 5 now, while Part 2 will conclude Thursday with numbers 6 to 10.
Top 10 Tech Dreams that Came True, Part 1 (1-5)
1. Virtual Reality Games, 1956 – The first monochrome “video” game was played in 1958 on small monochrome CRTs, at a time when virtual reality games on huge plasma display rentals were still decades away. In The City and the Stars (1956), Arthur C. Clarke wrote that the most popular recreation in Diaspar took you into “phantom worlds with your friends…and as long as [it] lasted there was no way in which it could be distinguished from reality.”
2. The Submarine, 1869 – Jules Verne is among history’s great visionaries, although his Nautilus from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea was modeled on the Confederacy’s ironclad Merrimac. Still, Verne used his powerful mind to “imagine how, in a more capable form, [submarines] might bear on social, political, scholarly, and even psychological matters,” according to Prof. Eric S. Rabkin, University of Michigan.
3. The Office Cubicle, 1909– E.M. Forster wrote in The Machine Stops about hive-like modular office spaces, about 50 years before businesses adopted the model. (When they did, few firms went so far as to name their office a “hive.”) Although Forster predicted hexagons, the description is spot-on otherwise: “Imagine, if you can, a small room, hexagonal in shape, like the cell of a bee.” Now imagine all the busy bees. (Are you one of ‘em?)
4. The Atomic Bomb, 1914 – Although the term “atomic bomb” predates H.G. Wells, he began popularizing it and did come up with it independently. In The World Set Free he describes “the moment when [an] invisible speck of bismuth flashed into riving and rending energy” in a demonstration of radioactive potential.
5. Earbud Headphones, 1950 – Earbuds were popularized by the first Apple iPod in 2001. In Fahrenheit 451 (1950), Ray Bradbury tells of a woman who had “thimble radios tamped tight” in her ears, providing “an electronic ocean of sound.” Whether you carry a phone, rent laptops or use a tablet, you’ll find an earphone plug (mostly 3.5mm, some 2.5′s just to irritate you).