Although the original Star Trek series only ran for three seasons, it has changed the way that we live today. Not only did it spin off eleven movies and an uninterrupted series of television shows that ran from 1987 to 2005, it has changed the technology that we use today. There are several technologies that we use and take for granted today that were inspired by the television show.
The cell phone was invented as a result of the original Star Trek series. The man who invented the cell phone, Martin Cooper, has acknowledged that he got the inspiration for the cell phone from the communicator that is used on Star Trek. The communicators used on the series do look a lot like the flip phones that we have today. In 2006, Viacom television was even awarded $11.8 million because the courts ruled that they owned the “intellectual rights” to the cell phone.
Personal Digital Assistants
I had the chance to visit the Star Trek exhibit that is currently touring the country, and I was surprised to see a personal digital assistant among the props. I never had placed my old PalmPilot in the same category as the old Star Trek tricorder, but there it was. PDAs have taken off in the last decade, and many people now own BlackBerry’s and iPhones that combine the capabilities of a Star Trek communicator and the tricorder. While doctors can’t currently run a portable scanner over you to find out what is making you sick, new iPhone applications now will let doctors look up medical information while they are in sick bay with you.
You don’t see paper used very often in the Star Trek series, do you? In the later Star Trek series, crew members will often go to the holodeck to participate in a holonovel, but sometimes they read a book instead. Instead of reading their books in old-fashioned paperback fashion, they have a tablet that they read their books from… somewhat like Amazon’s Kindle.
The crew members in Star Trek were always able to keep track of where the other crew members were via a computer system. Being able to track someone is important if you are planning on transporting them somewhere. We are now able to track where we are using a global positioning system. While GPS only works on earth, and can’t transport us across the city within seconds, GPS definitely seems like an idea that was used in Star Trek.
When NASA began space exploration with the Apollo program, none of the rockets or space capsules were reused. Everything was thrown away. The space ships on Star Trek, of course, were reused. In 1976, when NASA put together its prototype for the space shuttle, they named it the Enterprise, after Star Trek’s own space shuttle.
Futuristic books and movies have always envisioned things that were to be. Star Trek has been a modern-day phenomenon that produced the technology of the future, today.
“Star Trek.” Wikipedia. http:en.wikipedia.orgwikiStar_Trek
“‘Star Trek’ Producers Awarded Cell Phone Patent Damages.” The Specious Report, March 30, 2006. http:www.thespeciousreport.com200606060330startrek.html
“Star Trek: The Exhibit.” Arizona Science Center, February 2009.