Science Fiction
Dictionary

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Timeline of Science Fiction Ideas, Technology and Inventions
(sorted by Publication Date)

Most of these items are linked to information about similar real-life inventions and inventors; click on an invention to learn more about it.

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1600-1899  1900-1929  1930's  1940's  1950's  1960's  1970's  1980's  1990's  2000+

Date Device Name (Novel Author)
1634 Weightlessness (Kepler) (from Somnium (The Dream) by Johannes Kepler)
The notion that there could be a location with zero effective gravity.
1638 Gansas (from The Man in the Moone by Francis Godwin)
Migratory birds that fly all the way to the Moone.
1638 Weightlessness in Space (from The Man in the Moone by Francis Godwin)
This appears to be the first description of the idea of weightlessness in space.
1657 Moon Machine (from A Voyage to the Moon by Cyrano de Bergerac)
A device that could power a man from the surface of the Earth to that of the Moon.
1705 Cogitator (The Chair of Reflection) (from The Consolidator by Daniel Defoe)
A device which improves the rationality of the thinking processes.
1726 Knowledge Engine (from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift)
The first reference to a machine that could create sentences or write books.
1726 Laputa (from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift)
A floating island or rock in the air.
1726 Geometric Modeling (from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift)
The first recorded use of geometric figures to directly represent, or model, living beings.
1726 Bio-Energy (from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift)
The first reference to extracting electricity from organic materials.
1727 Androide (from Cyclopaedia by Ephraim Chambers)
A device having the form or likeness of a man.
1828 Mail-Post Letter-Ball (from The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Jane Webb Loudon)
A system of sending mail quickly from town to town via steam-cannon-powered hollow spheres.
1828 Steam-Propelled Moving Houses (from The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Jane Webb Loudon)
Otherwise ordinary residences that move from place to place, powered by steam.
1828 Barrels of Air (from The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Jane Webb Loudon)
A very early mention of a means for breathing once above the Earth's atmosphere.
1828 Stage Balloon (from The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Jane Webb Loudon)
A regular means of conveyance, like a train or carriage.
1864 Whispering Gallery (from Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne)
A means of communication in specifically shaped spaces.
1866 Paper Steel (from Robur-the-Conqueror by Jules Verne)
Specially treated paper that forms material as hard as steel.
1867 Communicate with Extraterrestrials (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
Early plan to communicate with life on planets removed from the earth.
1867 Water-Springs (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
Using water to cushion the living space of a spacecraft from the effects of acceleration.
1867 Gourmet Space Cuisine (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
The finest in French cuisine, in outer space.
1867 Splashdown (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
The use of water as a medium for landing one's space ship in.
1867 Air Renewal (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
Re-oxygenating the air within the projectile spacecraft.
1867 Retro-Rockets (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
Small boosters to provide a thrust counter to the current velocity of the spacecraft, slowing it down or stopping its progress altogether.
1867 Free Return Trajectory (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
The idea that it would be possible for a projectile to go around the Moon and then return to Earth.
1867 Columbiad (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
An enormous cannon, sufficient in size to send a projectile to the Moon.
1867 Projectile-Vehicle (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
A projectile, or shot, capable of enclosing passengers and being safely hurled to the moon by an enormous cannon.
1867 Light Pressure Propulsion (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
First mention of the idea that light itself could be a form of propulsion for spacecraft.
1867 Weightlessness (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
The state experienced in free fall; a space traveler's weight is apparently reduced to zero.
1867 Launching Facility (from From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne)
A specific spot with support for a space launch.
1868 Burn the Ship (from Around the World in 80 days by Jules Verne)
Utilize parts of the ship as fuel for forward movement.
1868 Steam Man (from The Steam Man of the Prairies by Edward S. Ellis)
A mechanical robot powered by steam.
1869 Flywheel Launcher (from The Brick Moon by Edward Everett Hale)
Gigantic flywheels that build up enough power to launch a spacecraft - hurl it into the heavens!
1869 Brick Moon (from The Brick Moon by Edward Everett Hale)
An artificial satellite or space station with living quarters for passengers.
1872 Mechanical Consciousness (from Erewhon by Samuel Butler)
The notion that machines may develop a form of consciousness.
1875 Nautilus (from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne)
The wondrous submarine of Captain Nemo; the instrument of his escape from humanity and his revenge upon it.
1875 Undersea Mining (from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne)
Conducting mining operations on the sea floor.
1875 Diving Apparatus (from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne)
Equipment used to go for walks on the sea bed; the direct ancestor of modern scuba diving equipment.
1875 Electrify the Rail (from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne)
Use of substantial electrical charge applied to outer hull to repel potential boarders.
1875 Leyden Ball (from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne)
Device for hunting underwater; transfers a powerful electrical charge to the prey.
1877 Telepomp (Matter Transmission) (from The Man Without a Body by Edward Page Mitchell)
A device that transmitted matter from one place to another.
1879 Home News Printer (from The Senator's Daughter by Edward Page Mitchell)
A device that prints out the newspaper of your choice right in your own home.
1879 Suspended Animation (Frigorific Process) (from The Senator's Daughter by Edward Page Mitchell)
Very early reference to cryogenic storage.
1879 Compact Food Pastilles (from The Senator's Daughter by Edward Page Mitchell)
One small tablet is a month's worth of food.
1880 Astronaut (Ship) (from Across the Zodiac by Percy Greg)
The first instance of this phrase, it denotes a space-going vessel.
1880 Apergy (Apergion) (from Across the Zodiac by Percy Greg)
An antigravity substance with sufficient power to propel a space ship from the Earth to Mars.
1881 Dutch Clock (Time Machine) (from The Clock That Went Backward by Edward Page Mitchell)
A tall Dutch clock with hands that move... backward.
1881 Chemical Production of Food (from Mizora: A Prophecy by Mary E. Bradley Lane)
Creation of food in the laboratory rather than in the field.
1883 Telephonoscope (from Le Vingtième Siècle (The Twentieth Century) by Albert Robida)
A device that effectively transmits pictures and sound over long distances.
1887 Anacronopete (Time Machine) (from El Anacronopete by Enrique Gaspar)
A flying electric-powered time machine.
1888 Credit Card (from Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy)
A simple card that is used in place of money
1888 Mall (Great City Bazaar) (from Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy)
An aggregation of shops under one roof.
1888 Telephonic Music Room (from Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy)
Places where a person could go, at any time, to share in musical performances happening at some distance away.
1889 Live News (from In the Year 2889 by Jules Verne)
The modern concept of a news broadcast.
1889 Electrified Fence (from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain)
A wire fence carrying an electrical charge sufficient to deter crossing the boundary.
1889 Atmospheric Advertising (from In the Year 2889 by Jules Verne)
A means of mass advertising to cities and countries.
1889 Recorded News (from In the Year 2889 by Jules Verne)
This is the basic idea behind Tivo and VCRs.
1889 Phonotelephote (from In the Year 2889 by Jules Verne)
A means of transmitting and receiving both voice and picture for a personal conversation.
1889 Straightening the Earth's Poles (from The Purchase of the North Pole (Topsy Turvy) by Jules Verne)
By means of a suitable force, push the Earth until the planet's axis of rotation is perpendicular to the ecliptic.
1893 Air-Ship (VTOL Airship) (from The Angel of the Revolution by George Griffith)
A flying machine capable of vertical take-off and landing.
1893 Air-to-Surface Missile (from The Angel of the Revolution by George Griffith)
Very early description of a projectile fired from an airship into a surface target.
1893 War-Balloon (Navigable Aerostat) (from The Angel of the Revolution by George Griffith)
Enormous dirigible airships used for war.
1894 Wind Power Generation (from A Journey In Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor IV)
A very early description of the use of solar powered 'farms' for generating electrical power on a large scale.
1894 Windmill Mast (from A Journey In Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor IV)
Enclosed machinery in large masts powers ships.
1894 Global Climate Control (from A Journey In Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor IV)
Adjust the Earth's axis so the seasons are more temperate and uniform.
1894 Magnetic Railroads (from A Journey In Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor IV)
A scheme for powering railroads using enormous electromagnets.
1894 Marine Spider (Hydrofoil) (from A Journey In Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor IV)
A very early mention of the hydrofoil concept.
1894 Electric Phaetons (Electric Cars) (from A Journey In Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor IV)
Vehicles whose motive power is entirely derived from electricity.
1894 Instantaneous Kodaks (Traffic Control) (from A Journey In Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor IV)
Use of cameras to help police officers enforce speed limits.
1894 Vehicle Energy Reclamation (from A Journey In Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor IV)
Reclaiming the energy gained by climbing a hill on the way back down.
1894 Magnetic Eyes (from A Journey In Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor IV)
A device that permits remote monitoring of people or other objects.
1894 Aeriduct (Rain Maker) (from A Journey In Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor IV)
A specific means of producing rain.
1894 Space-ship (from A Journey In Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor IV)
A space-going vessel.
1894 Electric Protection-Wires (Electrified Fence) (from A Journey In Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor IV)
An electric fence.
1894 Rooftop Windmill (from A Journey In Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor IV)
Renewable energy source for the home.
1894 Arctic Signal Light (from A Journey In Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor IV)
A means of communicating with spacecraft from the surface of the Earth.
1894 Double-Door Vestibule (from A Journey In Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor IV)
A special doorway leading from the interior of a spacecraft leading out into space which maintains the air pressure within the craft.
1894 Electric Car Recharging Station (from A Journey In Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor IV)
A public place for recharging electric cars.
1895 Manufactured Wife (from A Wife Manufactured to Order by Alice W. Fuller)
A wife made to order, programmed to meet her husband's requirements.
1895 Submarine Tube (from An Express of the Future by Jules Verne)
A means of transport between Europe and North America via underwater tubes.
1895 Atomic Energy (from The Crack of Doom by Robert Cromie)
Splitting the atom to create a destructive force.
1895 Undersea City (from The Crystal City Under the Sea by Andre Laurie)
A great city under the sea, covered by a crystal dome.
1895 Atomic Microscopy (from The Crack of Doom by Robert Cromie)
A device that can actually visualize a individual molecule and its parts.
1895 Time Machine (from The Time Machine by H.G. Wells)
A device allowing the rider to move freely in the temporal dimension, just as we ordinarily do in the two physical dimensions normal to gravity.
1895 Government Lethal Chamber (from The Repairer of Reputations by Robert W. Chambers)
A legal suicide booth.
1896 Monsters Manufactured (from The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells)
Dr. Moreau demonstrates the plasticity of the organic form.
1896 Fulgurator (from Facing The Flag by Jules Verne)
An 'autopropulsive projectile'.
1897 Glow-Worm Living (from In the Deep of Time by George Parsons Lathrop)
Alternated work, play and slumber without long periods of sleep.
1897 Noninterference With Other Worlds (from In the Deep of Time by George Parsons Lathrop)
Earliest expression of the 'Prime Directive' idea.
1897 Life-Brew (from In the Deep of Time by George Parsons Lathrop)
A non-alcoholic beverage, but similar to wine.
1897 Helium Metal (from In the Deep of Time by George Parsons Lathrop)
An ore with the spectroscopic line of Helium.
1897 Electric Bicycle (from In the Deep of Time by George Parsons Lathrop)
A two-wheeled device utilizing stored electricity as motive power.
1897 Photic Borer (Artesian Ray) (from The Great Stone of Sardis by Frank Stockton)
A ray of energy that illuminates a cross-section of Earth as it goes through solid earth and rock.
1897 Magnetic Shell (from The Great Stone of Sardis by Frank Stockton)
A munition that is powerfully attracted to ferrous ships.
1897 Automatic Shell (from The Great Stone of Sardis by Frank Stockton)
A projectile that bores through obstacles - even the Earth!
1897 Sun-Telephone (from In the Deep of Time by George Parsons Lathrop)
Receives transmissions from the sun itself.
1897 Gravitational Wave Viewer (from Two Planets by Kurd Lasswitz)
A device used to see at astronomical distances.
1897 Home Planet (from In the Deep of Time by George Parsons Lathrop)
Usually the birthplace of your species or simply your planet of origin.
1897 Artificial Silk (from In the Deep of Time by George Parsons Lathrop)
A fabric like silk produced entirely without silkworms.
1897 Walking Balloon (from In the Deep of Time by George Parsons Lathrop)
A means of efficiently traversing rough country.
1897 Interstellar Express Car (from In the Deep of Time by George Parsons Lathrop)
Uses anti-gravitation metal to achieve terrific speeds in space.
1897 Invisibility (from The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells)
The idea that it is possible to make a person invisible using some sort of optical technology to alter the body.
1897 Vivification (from In the Deep of Time by George Parsons Lathrop)
A process by which the body can be preserved for centuries at body temperature and then revived.
1897 Planetary Telegraphing (from In the Deep of Time by George Parsons Lathrop)
A method for communicating with dwellers on other planets in the solar system.
1897 Electric Gun (Mass Driver) (from A Trip to Venus by John Munro)
A device that used electromagnetic energy to accelerated capsules into orbit.
1898 Autonomous Digging Machine (from The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells)
A mechanical device able to excavate on its own.
1898 Heat Ray (from The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells)
First use of what appears to be a laser weapon.
1898 Biological Warfare (from The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells)
The use of microorganisms to defeat an enemy; this is the first reference in science fiction that I can find to this concept.
1898 Tripod (from The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells)
An enormous metallic robot.
1898 Steel Tentacle (from The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells)
Flexible robotic steel limbs that can both support a vehicle and grasp objects.
1898 Robot Biomimicry (from The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells)
Endowing robots with an organic-appearing fluidity, rather than mechanical motion.
1898 Electrical 'Tether' (from Edison's Conquest of Mars by Garrett P. Serviss)
A device to make sure an astronaut could return from a free space walk.
1898 Asteroid Mining (from Edison's Conquest of Mars by Garrett P. Serviss)
The mining of asteroid ore, accomplished by traveling to these tiny bodies.
1898 Black Smoke (from The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells)
A smoke or vapor dispensed in canisters.
1898 Robot Spider (Handling Machine) (from The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells)
Multipurpose device used almost as an extension of the Martian's own bodies.
1898 Quasi-Muscles (Sham Musculature) (from The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells)
A means of giving motive power to robots or machines that is similar to animal musculature.
1898 Air-Tight Suit (from Edison's Conquest of Mars by Garrett P. Serviss)
An special outfit that would allow a person to survive in vacuum.
1898 Red Weed (Terraforming Plant) (from The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells)
A plant brought by the Martians that grew on Earth.
1898 Space Walk (from Edison's Conquest of Mars by Garrett P. Serviss)
Going outside your space craft for a short time.
1898 Aerial Telegraph (from Edison's Conquest of Mars by Garrett P. Serviss)
Communication between individuals in spacesuits.
1898 Disintegrator (from Edison's Conquest of Mars by Garrett P. Serviss)
A device that causes objects to burst into molecular pieces.
1899 Nutritious Pellets (from Looking Forward: A Dream of the United States of the Americas in 1999 by Arthur Bird)
Food in pill form.
1899 Electrical Farming Implements (from Looking Forward: A Dream of the United States of the Americas in 1999 by Arthur Bird)
Labor-saving automatic farm equipment.
1899 Aerodrome (Ærodromes) (from Looking Forward: A Dream of the United States of the Americas in 1999 by Arthur Bird)
Flying machines.
1899 Automatic Valet (from Looking Forward: A Dream of the United States of the Americas in 1999 by Arthur Bird)
A robotic manservant.
1899 Aerocycle (Ærocycle) (from Looking Forward: A Dream of the United States of the Americas in 1999 by Arthur Bird)
An aerial bicycle, human powered.
1899 Nickalum (from Looking Forward: A Dream of the United States of the Americas in 1999 by Arthur Bird)
An alloy of aluminum crystalized within a magnetic field for exceptional strength.
1899 Aerial Dynamite Ships (from Looking Forward: A Dream of the United States of the Americas in 1999 by Arthur Bird)
Using airplanes to drop explosives during war.
1899 Moving Roadway (from When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells)
A roadway that is in motion, with seats and kiosks, that goes around curves.
1899 Kinetiscope Appliance (from When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells)
A small object that could show a variety of artificially created or extrapolated images.
1899 Automated Surface Measurement (from When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells)
A mechanical method of accurately measuring a surface.
1899 Individualized Clothing Manufacture (from When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells)
A device that will produce suits of clothing based on measurement data gathered.
1899 Moving Picture Player (from When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells)
A machine that plays recorded pictures back for a single person - a combination DVD player and screen.
1899 Automatic Door (from When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells)
A wall strip that rolls up automatically to let you through.
1899 Town In One Building (from When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells)
This is the basic idea behind an arcology, or other single structure that is intended to provide living space and mall.
1899 Babble Machine (from When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells)
Not just television - this describes what we call 'the idiot box' (technology and media).
1899 DVD/VCR (Entertainment Player) (from When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells)
A device that accepts stored moving picture entertainment and makes it available for viewing.
1899 Networked World (from When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells)
Very early description of our dependence on technology and communication.
1899 Eadhamite (from When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells)
Synthetic material that creates extremely smooth roads.
1899 Electric-Automatic Housemaid Robot (Automaton) (from Ely's Automatic Housemaid by Elizabeth Bellamy)
A very early description of a robot to help around the house.
1899 Electric-Automatic Household Robot Cook (from Ely's Automatic Housemaid by Elizabeth Bellamy)
A robot chef - an Electric-Automatic Household Benefi­cent Genius!

1600-1899  1900-1949  1950's  1960's  1970's  1980's  1990's  2000's

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