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"We follow the scientists around and look over their shoulders."
- Larry Niven

Flying Platform  
  Simple black squares that fly and hover.  

Maybe the earliest description of what we would call a "hovercraft" today.

These seemed at first simply square black platforms of smooth metal, lying flat upon the ground, each having a low railing around its edges not more than a foot high. As I gazed at them, though, I saw that at a corner of each there rose a squat cylinder of metal, studded with shining switches... On our own platform one of the spider-men stationed himself before the thick cylinder in the corner, and began to twist and press the studs upon its surface. A low purring sound rose from the platform's bottom as he did so, and a moment later the whole flat metal surface rose smoothly into the air.


(From 'Locked Worlds' by Edmond Hamilton)

Straight up it rose, with smooth, effortless speed, until it hovered at a height of a thousand feet above the ground... They hovered there a moment, then both swept away toward the north...

Technovelgy from Locked Worlds, by Edmond Hamilton.
Published by Amazing Stories Quarterly in 1929
Additional resources -

How did these remarkable craft work?

This world of theirs, like our world, was a vast magnet, its two magnetic poles attracting unlike poles and repelling like poles. By the apparatus in the cylinder, the spider-men... by controlling and changing the magnetic charge, they were able to raise the platform into the air and move it in all directions at will...

Like many baby boomers, my first exposure to this idea came in the Johnny Quest cartoon series which debuted in 1964.


(Hovercraft from 'Johnny Quest' [1964])

Compare to the gyrotomic from Ra For The Rajah (1938) by John Victor Peterson, the hoverlimo from Steel Beach (1992) by John Varley, the landspeeder from Star Wars (1976) by George Lucas and the hovercraft from Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988) by William Gibson.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Locked Worlds
  More Ideas and Technology by Edmond Hamilton
  Tech news articles related to Locked Worlds
  Tech news articles related to works by Edmond Hamilton

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