The technology of the Internet was originally predicted by science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke in his novel “Dial F for Frankenstein” (1964).

List of existing technologies predicted in science fiction

This list of existing technologies predicted in science fiction includes every medium, mainly literature and film. In 1964 Soviet engineer and writer Genrikh Altshuller made the first attempt to catalogue science fiction technologies of the time.

Alongside first prediction of a particular technology, the list may include all subsequent works mentioning it until its invention. The list includes technologies that were first posited in non-fiction works before their appearance in science fiction and subsequent invention, such as ion thruster. To avoid repetitions, the list excludes film adaptations of prior literature containing the same predictions, such as “The Minority Report“. The list also excludes emerging technologies that are not widely available. The titles of non-English works are given in English. The names of some modern inventions (atomic bomb, credit card, robot, space station and borazon) exactly match their fictional predecessors. A few works correctly predicted the years when some technologies would emerge, such as the first sustained heavier-than-air aircraft flight in 1903 and the first atomic bomb explosion in 1945.

Literature

Work Author(s) Publication year Predicted technology Name(s) in the work
Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon Cyrano de Bergerac 1657 Space rocket Machine
The Blazing World Margaret Cavendish 1666 Submarine Ships that could swim under water
Giphantie Charles-François Tiphaigne de la Roche 1761 Photography Unnamed, descriptive
Symzonia: A Voyage of Discovery Adam Seaborn 1820 Jet engine Unnamed, descriptive
Probable Tall Tales Thaddeus Bulgarin 1824 Aviation, printer, Kingston valve Aerial stagecoaches (for aviation), writing machines (for printers), openings with valves for letting water into a special bulkhead in the hold (for Kingston valves)
The United Worlds, a Poem, in Fifty Seven Books Mark Drinkwater 1834 Android Androides
The Year 4338: Petersburg Letters Vladimir Odoyevsky 1835 Rapid transit (subway), electric multiple unit, aviation Electric carriage (for electric multiple unit), galvanic flying machine (for aviation)
The Air Battle; A Vision of the Future Hermann Lang 1859 Remote control devices
From the Earth to the Moon Jules Verne 1865 Solar sail, splashdown Both unnamed, descriptive
The Brick Moon Edward Everett Hale 1869 Space station Brick moon
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea Jules Verne 1870 Electric submarine, gas-discharge lamp, taser Submarine Nautilus, Ruhmkorff apparatus, gun
“The Great Electric Diaphragm. Some Account of the Telegraphic System of the Baron O—” Robert Duncan Milne 1879 Radio
“The Senator’s Daughter” Edward Page Mitchell 1879 Electric heating Thermo-electrode
Mizora Mary Bradley Lane 1880 Synthetic meat Chemically prepared meat
Robur the Conqueror Jules Verne 1886 Autogyro, helicopter Flying engine Albatross
Looking Backward Edward Bellamy 1888 Credit card and debit card Credit card
In the Year 2889 Jules Verne or Michel Verne 1889 News broadcasting, videotelephony Phonotelephote (for videotelephony)
Electric Life Albert Robida 1891 Television, videotelephony, aviation, biological weapons, miniskirt Telephonoscope (for television), aeronefs-omnibus (for aviation)
Six Thousand Years Hence Milton Ramsey 1891 Machine translation
“The Great Brown–Pericord Motor” Arthur Conan Doyle 1891 Heavier-than-air unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) Brown–Pericord Motor
The Angel of the Revolution George Griffith 1893 Air-to-surface missile, heavier-than-air aircraft flight Missile boring its way through the air for the centre of the fortress, air-ship Ariel
A Journey in Other Worlds John Jacob Astor IV 1894 International telephone network, videotelephony, hidden camera, phosphorescent paint, radar speed gun, chemical weapon Descriptive for telephone network, kintograph or visual telegraph for videotelephony, strips of nickel painted white, and showing a bright phosphorescence at night (for phosphorescent paint), asphyxiating bombs containing compressed gas that could be fired from guns or dropped from the air (for chemical weapons)
Propeller Island Jules Verne 1895 Audiobook
The Crack of Doom Robert Cromie 1895 Atomic bomb or hydrogen bomb Disintegrating agent
The Island of Dr. Moreau H. G. Wells 1896 Organ transplantation Unnamed, descriptive
The War of the Worlds H. G. Wells 1898 Laser, chemical weapon Heat-ray (for laser), black and poisonous vapour by means of rockets (for chemical weapon)
When the Sleeper Wakes H. G. Wells 1899 Military aviation, automatic door Aeroplanes (for military aircraft)
“The Imp of the Telephone” John Kendrick Bangs 1902 Videocassette recorder
The Land Ironclads H. G. Wells 1903 Armoured fighting vehicles, joystick with firing button Land ironclads
Sultana’s Dream Begum Rokeya 1905 Solar power, seasonal thermal energy storage Unnamed, descriptive
With the Night Mail Rudyard Kipling 1905 Airmail by airplanes
The Last Miracle M. P. Shiel 1907 Hologram
Red Star Alexander Bogdanov 1908 Nuclear engine, automated plant Etheroneph (for nuclear engine)
The War in the Air H. G. Wells 1908 Military aviation Fleet of airships
A Columbus of Space Garrett P. Serviss 1909 Nuclear-powered spaceship Atomic balloon
The Machine Stops E. M. Forster 1909 Home automation (smart home), television, videotelephony, social media Cinematophote (for television)
The Emperor of the Air George Glendon 1910 Wankel engine
“He of the Glass Heart” George Allan England 1911 Artificial human heart
Ralph 124C 41+ Hugo Gernsback 1911 Solar power, television, tape recorder, sound film, videotelephony, radar and spaceflight Telephot (for videotelephony), actinoscope (for radar)
The Great Aeroplane. A Thrilling Tale of Adventure Frederick Sadleir Brereton 1911 Jet propulsion
The World Set Free H. G. Wells 1914 Atomic bomb, nuclear propulsion Atomic bomb, atomic engine
Beyond the Earth Konstantin Tsiolkovsky 1920 Artificial gravity, lunar rover Artificial gravity
R.U.R. Karel Čapek 1920 Robots Robots
“The Devolutionist” Homer Eon Flint 1921 Artificial human heart
“The Secret of Artificial Reproduction” Clement Fezandié 1921 Cloning
“Number 87” Eden Phillpotts 1922 Discovery of francium
The Absolute at Large Karel Čapek 1922 Nuclear reactor Karburator
Men Like Gods H. G. Wells 1923 Email, voicemail Unnamed, descriptive
We Yevgeny Zamyatin 1924 Interstellar message, specifically Voyager Golden Record Unnamed, descriptive
Metropolis Thea von Harbou 1925 Robots Machines
In a Thousand Years Vadim Nikolsky 1926 Atomic bomb explosion in 1945 (Trinity test) Atomic explosion of 1945
The Garin Death Ray Aleksey Tolstoy 1927 Laser Hyperboloid
Amphibian Man Alexander Belyaev 1928 Aqua-Lung Underwater suits with oxygen tanks
The Struggle in Space Alexander Belyaev 1928 Mobile phone Wireless telephone
Electropolis Otfrid von Hanstein 1928 Microwave oven, Global Positioning System (GPS)
“Evans of the Earth-Guard” Edmond Hamilton 1930 Vernier thruster Rocket’s side tubes
Paradise and Iron Miles J. Breuer 1930 Home automation, self-driving car
“The Black Star Passes” John W. Campbell 1930 Solar-powered aircraft Solar engine, one that could be placed in the wings of a plane to generate power
“The Message From Space” David M. Speaker 1930 Videotelephony Visiphone
Underwater Farmers Alexander Belyaev 1930 Diver propulsion vehicle
Brave New World Aldous Huxley 1932 4D film Feelies, works of art out of practically nothing but pure sensation
“Pygmalion’s Spectacles” Stanley Weinbaum 1935 Smartglasses, virtual reality Magic spectacles (for smartglasses)
The Star KETS Alexander Belyaev 1936 Space station, extravehicular activity, satellite
“Sugar in the Air” Ernest Charles Large 1937 Artificial photosynthesis
Helen O’Loy Lester del Rey 1938 Domestic robot Helen O’Loy
Blowups Happen Robert Heinlein 1940 Nuclear power plant
Coventry Robert Heinlein 1940 Solar vehicle Vehicle with “sunpower screens”
Solution Unsatisfactory Robert Heinlein 1941 Atomic bomb U235 in a controlled explosion, a one-ton bomb that would be a whole air raid in itself
Nerves Lester del Rey 1942 Widespread nuclear power
Waldo Robert Heinlein 1942 Remote manipulator, robot-assisted surgery Waldo F. Jones’ Synchronous Reduplicating Pantograph; later in acknowledgment some remote manipulators were dubbed “Waldos”.
“Fakaofo Atoll” Ivan Yefremov 1944 Underwater television
“Shadow of the Past” Ivan Yefremov 1945 Hologram Light imprint
A Logic Named Joe Murray Leinster 1946 Computer, Internet, server Logic (for computer), tank (for server)
Space Cadet Robert Heinlein 1948 Mobile phone
The Veldt Ray Bradbury 1950 Home automation (smart home), 4D film, virtual reality Happylife Home (for smart home), odorophonics (for 4D film)
There Will Come Soft Rains Ray Bradbury 1950 Robotic vacuum cleaner Small cleaning animals, all rubber and metal
Foundation Isaac Asimov 1951 Pocket calculator
“Rock Diver” Harry Harrison 1951 Helmet-mounted display Oscilloscope screen set inside helmet
The Pedestrian Ray Bradbury 1951 Self-driving car Police car
Islands in the Sky Arthur C. Clarke 1952 Space station Space Station, Inner Station
Childhood’s End Arthur C. Clarke 1953 Oral contraceptive, DNA paternity testing Oral contraceptive, infallible method of identifying the father of any child
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury 1953 Earphones (earbuds), flatscreen television, automated teller machine (ATM) Seashells (for earbuds), wall-TV (for flatscreen television), bank which was open all night and every night with robot tellers (for ATM)
The Caves of Steel Isaac Asimov 1953 Fingerprint scanner Unnamed, descriptive
The Star Beast Robert Heinlein 1954 Mobile phone
The Magellanic Cloud Stanisław Lem 1955 Internet, smartphone with internet access, additive manufacturing file format, 3D printing Trion (for internet), pocket receiver (for smartphone), production prescription (for additive manufacturing file format), the automaton (for 3D printer)
The City and the Stars Arthur C. Clarke 1956 Immersive virtual reality games Central computer, which virtually ran the city
The Door into Summer Robert Heinlein 1956 Automated teller machine (ATM), robotic vacuum cleaner, computer-aided design (CAD) Twenty-four-hour bank (for ATM), Hired Girl (for robotic vacuum cleaner), gismo (for CAD)
The Minority Report Philip K. Dick 1956 Facial recognition system, personalized ads
The Naked Sun Isaac Asimov 1956 Flatscreen 3D television, domestic robot Viewing panels, household robots
Andromeda: A Space-Age Tale Ivan Yefremov 1957 Borazon, space probe, powered exoskeleton, ion thruster Borason, geological bomb, robot station (for space probe), jumping skeletons (for powered exoskeletons), ion trigger motors (for ion thrusters)
The Man Without Heart Oles Berdnik, Yuri Bedzik 1957 Artificial human heart
“Prospector’s Special” Robert Sheckley 1959 Mobile phone, videotelephony Telephone, video screen
Return from the Stars Stanisław Lem 1961 E-reader, audiobook Opton (for e-reader), lecton (for audiobook)
“The Way You Will Be” Arkady and Boris Strugatsky 1961 4D film
Razor’s Edge Ivan Yefremov 1963 Solar-pumped laser
The Age of the Pussyfoot Frederik Pohl 1965 Smartphone Joymaker
The Cyberiad Stanisław Lem 1965 Life simulation game
The Final Circle of Paradise Arkady and Boris Strugatsky 1965 Paintball, self-driving car, Bluetooth headset Liapnik (for paintball)
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress Robert Heinlein 1966 Voice user interface
2001: A Space Odyssey Arthur C. Clarke 1968 Voice user interface, tablet computer Newspad (for tablet computer)
Stand on Zanzibar John Brunner 1968 On demand television, laser printer
The Scarred Man Gregory Benford 1970 Computer virus
Cyborg Martin Caidin 1972 Robotic prostheses
When HARLIE Was One David Gerrold 1972 Computer virus
Imperial Earth Arthur C. Clarke 1975 Personalized ads, search engine Personal messages (for personalized ads), Comsole (for search engine)
The Shockwave Rider John Brunner 1975 Hacking, computer worm
One Hundred Years Ahead Kir Bulychev 1978 E-reader, smartwatch
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams 1979 Audio translation device Babel fish
Burning Chrome William Gibson 1982 Internet
Friday Robert Heinlein 1982 Internet
The Descent of Anansi Steven Barnes, Larry Niven 1982 Tethered satellite
Neuromancer William Gibson 1984 World Wide Web, virtual reality
Islands in the Net Bruce Sterling 1988 Smart shoe
Paris in the Twentieth Century Jules Verne 1994 Skyscrapers, gasoline-powered cars, electric street lights, electronic dance music, fax, internet, electric chair, weapons of mass destruction

Film and TV series

Film Screenwriter Release year Predicted technology Name(s) in the work
Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part II 1985, 1989 Voice user interface, tablet computer, videotelephony, augmented and virtual reality, flatscreen television, fingerprint scanner
Star Trek: The Next Generation 1987–1994 Smartwatch
Until the End of the World 1991 High-definition flatscreen television

Notes

References

Sources

See also


Source: List of existing technologies predicted in science fiction
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