Skip to navigationSkip to content

Here are all the technologies Star Trek accurately predicted

The original model of the USS Enterprise at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington.
Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
We’ve gone some of the places they boldly went on TV.
By Mun Keat Looi
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

On September 8, 1966, NBC aired the first episode of a new TV series about a starship on a five year mission of space exploration. Today, Star Trek turns 50.

The first episode told of an endangered shape-shifting, salt-sucking alien posing as a human woman to lure prey to its lair. (The creature was killed rather than added to the red list). Half a century, 726 episodes, four spin-off series (a fifth is on its way), and 13 movies later, we’ve yet to meet any metamorphosing salt vampires in real life.

On the other hand, a surprising number of fanciful ideas and technologies that appeared on the show over the years have come to pass in the real world. Star Trek, it seems, is one of the great augurs of 21st century living.

Some technologies, like flip-phone communicators, are the fairly predictable result of fiction inspiring fact—Star Trek is a commonly cited influence for scientists. Others, like transparent aluminum, are things even Mr. Spock couldn’t have seen coming.

Here’s a list of all the real-world tech, presaged Star Trek, we could find:

  • VISOR bionic eyes for the blind

There are a few technologies we’re still waiting for:

  • Warp drives/matter-antimatter power
  • Transporters (“Beam me up”)

Scientists, make it so.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.