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On 8 September, Trekkies from all over the globe will celebrate Star Trek Day. For people who did not grow up with the original series, a day devoted to a TV show from the 60s might sound bizarre. But this iconic American science fiction series is often regarded as the most influential in TV history.
Gene Roddenberry's brainchild came at a time of optimism and excitement around the new frontier of space. Neil Armstrong was three years away from walking on another world, and anything seemed possible.
Looking back on all the technological and societal advances they envisioned – from Bluetooth headsets, mobile phones and 3D printing to a more racially integrated and just society – the creators of Star Trek looked to the future as if into a magical crystal ball. It’s mind-blowing to see how many of the tech stuff we take for granted today was part of Star Trek’s futuristic world. This was back when the most powerful computers were as big as houses and people were still getting used to the idea of a cordless telephone!
Here are some of our favourite technological predictions in Star Trek’s original series that have now become household items.
At the top of our list is the Communicator, a device that is strikingly similar to what we know today as a mobile phone. Although the ones used in the old Star Trek series will remind you more of your dad’s old flip phone than your latest upgrade, these devices were still capable of reaching across space to fight or flirt.
In the later movies starring the original cast, we start to see a shift towards touchscreens. By the time Star Trek: The Next Generation came out, they went full touchscreen on everything.
While we’re on the topic of touch screens, one of our favourite Star Trek tech predictions is tablets. In The Next Generation series, the cast was regularly using devices very similar to what we know today as tablets. They even called it a “Padd”, which makes you wonder if Steve Jobs might have been a Trekkie?
At a time when televisions were big and the screens small, the characters of Star Trek were using flat-screen TVs very similar to the ones we have today.
Considering that the series was written and produced in an era of landline telephones and still a few years before cordless telephones would hit the market, the idea of real-time video calling was way ahead of its time. The fact that we use it now on a daily basis on our mobile devices is a testimony to how fast technology has developed since the late 1960s.
Other notable tech predictions by the creators of Star Trek include laptops, Bluetooth headsets, MP3s, 3D printing, automatic doors, GPS, transparent aluminium, real-time universal translators and biometric data tracking for health and verifying identity. Crazy, hey?
While the original series is still epic, the movie adaptations are also unmissable! Sign up for Video Play now and watch Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond.