by Danette Johnson
I’m not a huge science fiction reader, but whenever I come across an interesting novel or series with new and creative inventions that leave me wishing it was made in real life, I take notice. I am not ashamed to admit that I’ve played my fair share of muggle quidditch with brooms because flying brooms don’t exist…yet, and participated in make-shift Star Wars pod races with my siblings using shopping carts, much to my parents’ dismay. But, have you ever considered that we may actually have the magic, or rather the technology, to one day live in a world similar to our favorite novels? It’s already happening, kind of. This week’s blog is dedicated to the books that have inspired real-life inventions that have quickly become basic necessities worldwide. So let’s start with…
Credit cards: In his 1887 utopian book, Looking Backward, college dropout Edward Bellamy used the term ‘credit card’ as a way for people to pay their taxes to the government. The credit card as we know it today resembles Bellamy’s description of “a credit card issued [to] him with which he procures at public storehouses, found in every community, whatever he desires, whenever he desires it. This arrangement, you will see, totally obviates the necessity for business transactions of any sort between individuals and consumers.” To be quite honest I hadn’t heard of this book before writing this blog, but since it is the inspiration for credit cards I think I might check this one out.
The Internet: Developed in the 80s and becoming popular in the 90s, the internet is THE invention of the last century! And Mark Twain predicted it! While Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, sites Arthur C. Clarke’s Dial F for Frankenstein written in 1964 as his inspiration, the first mentions for a concept like the internet was in Mark Twain’s 1898 short story From the “London Times” of 1904. In it, Twain describes the ‘Telelectroscpe’: a phone system created to share information over a worldwide network. Arthur C. Clarke’s description of a platform where computers are able to communicate with each other came nearly 70 years after Twain. Whoever predicted it, and whoever inspired it, I have nothing but thanks and praise. However, whoever inspired spam and viruses…that person I want to kick!
Smart watches: For old school comic book fans, I knew once Apple announced their Apple Watch there would be tears of joy and nostalgia. Although the concept of a smart watch has been around for a while, I didn’t know just how long that was! The Smart Watch is rumored to have been inspired by the Dick Tracey comic strip-turned comic book. Dick Tracey’s 2-way wrist radio made its first appearance in the 1946 comic strip first and immediately became a fan favorite that is now synonymous with the comic.
So, after reading this fellow Potterheads, do you now have hope that we can all one day have the chance to play a real quidditch match before we’re too old to remember what it is?! I have faith: in both technology and in future writers who continue to inspire future advancements with their present imaginations. Keep the conversation going by letting us know which inventions from books you wish were invented in reality.