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Category: Gadgets

Seven Popular Gadgets That Star Trek Invented

Written on September 11, 2011 by Avlya Jaie

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Discover seven of the Star Trek ideas that became reality!

is said to be one of the most popular television series in the world. Its first episode was aired on NBC five years after the first human was launched into space. The franchise successfully produced six television series and 11 movies. During those times, it has been able to show several futuristic gadgets and technologies.

Star Trek is now celebrating its 45th anniversary, and as part of its milestone, GADG has rounded up seven of its futuristic gadgets that turned into reality.

1. The Flip Phone

During missions, Star Trek characters use handheld devices to stay connected. They utilize “communicators” that are similar to walkie talkies with a flip top. This idea eventually inspired Motorola to release its first flip phone in 1996, which is called “StarTAC.”

Trekie Ted Anthony was also influenced by this . In 2006, he wrote an article for the AP, stating: “Once, when I was 6, the teenage son of one of my father’s colleagues fashioned me a handmade communicator out of a wood block, paint and chickenwire. A few months later, I left it in an airplane bathroom as we flew to Asia and caused something of a bomb scare.”

2. Computers

In the series Star Trek: The Next Generation, Starfleet crew members often use touch-based control panels called PADDs — also known as personal access display devices. This handheld computer interface allows the member to access the ship’s computer anywhere. The looks of the said device somehow resemble the tablet computers of today.

As stated by Ars Technica, PADDs were a sign of a limited budget. Its flat surface meant that there are no dials that need to be done, and its software could be rearranged to complete different tasks.

3. Bluetooth Headsets

Star Trek’s was known for wearing a giant silver ear piece while inside the communications table. In the present time, this device is similar to the bluetooth headpieces.

“Look at anyone walking down the street looking like they’ve gone insane and are talking to themselves and you’re likely to see a blue light flashing next to their ear and, looking closer, you’ll see the Bluetooth earpiece,” Starfleet’s Dave Blaser stated.

4. Tricorders

In Star Trek, tricorders are devices that are used for recording data and sensor scanning. The company, Vital Technologies, created a replica of this futuristic device, which they called the TR-107 Mark 1. The handheld device was launched in the mid-90s, featuring functions that are similar to the fictional tricorder — such as an electromagnetic field meter, thermometer, barometer and light meter.

There is also a Tricoder app that was released recently, and a $10 million contest that offers a Tricorder-like medical diagnostic device was also hosted.

5. The Floppy Disks

Starfleet crew members used square disks that were just 3×3 inches and only a quarter of an inch thick. To use them, they were inserted in computers wherein they would show the data stored on them — just like today’s floppy disks.

“On Star Trek, they were the small square coloured pieces of plastic that they inserted into various computer consoles, but in the 80s and 90s we had the 3.5-inch floppy disk that was remarkably close to the same size as those pieces of plastic that they had on Star Trek,” Dave Blaser explains.

6. Voice Activation

This used-to-be futuristic technology is already present in your generation. A lot of computer software, electronics, and smartphones now come with voice activation options.


Beam Us Up!
Star Trek at

Back in Star Trek: The Original Series, locators that are equipped on the communicators were used to find individuals — kind of like how GPS is installed in smartphones to date.


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