Holding the Future in My Hands

Written by Dan Carlson@minutiaeman@tenforward.social

Published April 7, 2010

For as long as I’ve been a Star Trek fan, I’ve always read about how the show has influenced the advance of technology. The cell phone, of course, is the most obvious example, but it’s just the best-known. And I grew up in a decade where cell phones and pagers had already penetrated the public consciousness. So I’ve never fully appreciated just how visionary Star Trek was until today.

I don’t know just what makes the iPad so different—especially compared to the iPhone, which I’ve had for almost three years. Maybe it’s the size, maybe it’s the way I interact... It may be marketing hyperbole, but the larger screen really does make the whole experience much more immersive.

Here’s something that I used to see exclusively on the TV screen: Jake Sisko editing his novels, Picard preparing an archaeology speech, Janeway reviewing some scientific data... and now, I hold a slab of aluminum and glass in my hand, and for all intents and purposes it’s indistinguishable from what I saw on the show.

I can do the same things now. I’ll walk down the hallway with the iPad in my hands, checking up on the latest news over a wireless data connection. I’ll sit with the iPad in my lap and sketch out a drawing. I’ll watch a movie or send messages to friends. No need for a computer terminal.

These are the things that I used to dream about. Star Trek was among the first to visualize them. Now I get to live one of those dreams.