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Old December 8 2011, 05:25 AM   #57
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Re: Some science fiction "firsts"

xortex wrote: View Post
Who invented the transporter and replicator? And computer?
Charles Babbage gets a lot of mileage these days, inventing what is basically a mechanical computer called the difference engine, which a working model was made of in 1991 from his design! Usually when we think steampunk, this is where it originates from.

Computers using more familiar techniques appeared in 1939. In 1940 a computer used remote accessing(like the Al Gore wasn't around). In 1944, a machine called Colossus did it's number crunching in breaking Nazi codes, it was kept a secret till the 1970s! The famous, and gigantic ENIAC appeared in 1946. The first microcomputer appeared in 1971, things moved slowly but surely, finally snowballing 10 years later into PCs and Macs. In 1960 the first modem was used, and in 1970 Arpanet was started. During the 70s SF writer's often had their terms "used" be real life researchers, such as "worm", et al...

BUT SF writers seemed to be slow in understanding the implications of computers, preferring slide rules to stored program or even mechanical computers of more sophistication. The earliest mention I can find of an info giving machine was in 1726, in Gulliver's Travels. "The Machine Stops"(1909) was a revelation:it provided life support, entertainment, communication and lots of things we associate modern computers with. In 1939, the ever reliable Robert Heinlein used a ship with a navigation computer.

I'm not including other forms of AI in this post.

Computer History

Replicators: First mention..Tom Swift(1910)...byproducts of a cyclotron are used to make any material desired. 1933, The Man Who Woke includes a dizzying array of technologies, including molecular replicators:

Today when we think of replicators, we think of nanotech assemblers, creating whatever we might want from molecules upward. Some current examples of 3D printers are primitive examples of making items out of raw materials for just about any need. NASA uses electron beams in experiments in orbit to create objects.

3D Printing
It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. Carl Sagan
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