It may not be the middle of the 21st Century just yet, but it’s amazing how many present day inventions were predicted throughout the course of the Gerry Anderson series. People often reference the communicators on Star Trek as a precursor to our mobile phones (granted, without the ability to call a ship in orbit!), but the Anderson universe also provides some wonderful examples of forward thinking ideas that have become a reality since they first hit screens in the middle of the last century. Here are 5 times that the future got it right!
- The Videophone/Skype
It’s amazing how quickly we integrate new concepts into our daily lives. Take Skype for example: it’s now possible to have a real-time audio visual conversation with someone in another part of the world. Think about that for a second. That’s awesome! That’s 1960’s science fiction territory right there! The Videophone (the name really does tell you all you need to know) appears in several series (notably Stingray and Thunderbirds) years before it became a reality. Simply dial the number and hey presto, instant video communications with your contact! Alternatively, use the ‘sound only’ feature to hide the fact that you’re not actually in bed sick when you should be in work…
Fireflash and Skythrust, those legendary supersonic leviathans from Thunderbirds both predate the mighty Anglo-French Concorde project by a number of years! Fireflash first appeared in the pilot episode of Thunderbirds back in 1965, whereas Concorde didn’t fly until 1969 and didn’t make regular scheduled flights until 1976! Despite Concorde’s much better flight safety record than it’s accident-prone TV counterpart, the type’s only tragic crash in the year 2000 was one of the main contributing factors in its withdrawal from service. However, that may not be the end of the story for the supersonic airliner, as there are tentative plans afoot to have her fly once again in time for her 50th Anniversary in 2019…
- The Mighty Atom/Facial Recognition Software
If you’re anything like Penelope, you may not think too highly of the devious Hood’s furry little friend, but it’s actually a rather ingenious bit of kit. Designed to photograph the profile of the human face for the purpose of industrial espionage, the Mighty Atom is more sophisticated than your garden variety rodent. These days, practically all social media websites employ some form of facial recognition software to enable you to tag people in photographs. The technology has advanced in the last few years, and it’s pretty accurate when it comes to automatically zeroing in on a face (even Zelda’s ugly mug, perhaps she’s more human than we know!)
- Thunderbird 5/Space Stations
You might think that John Tracy gets a bit of a raw deal being stuck up there in Thunderbird 5 for six months of the year, but the truth is that he was a pioneer! Appearing in the first shot of the opening credits, Thunderbird 5 was the very first image from Thunderbirds that was presented to television viewers in 1965. International Rescue’s manned space station may have seemed like a far-out concept at the time, but Salyut 1, the world’s first ever space station would be launched by the Soviet Union a few years later in 1971. Though it may have lacked the wide open spaces of IR’s Space Monitor, Salyut 1 started a legacy of life in space that would continue through to the International Space Station and beyond!
- Martian Exploration Vehicle/Mars Rover
Let’s face it, neither of the Mars missions depicted in Thunderbirds Are Go or Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons were very successful, were they? Killer rock snakes and vengeful invisible aliens, it’s certainly no picnic on the red planet (or should that be grey planet? I’m confused!) .
Despite the threat of initiating an interplanetary conflict, the first successful Mars Rover to land, transmit data and actually do a decent amount of roving was the Mars Pathfinder Sojourner. It roved a whopping 330…..feet! That’s one small step for man, one giant rove for rover! The historic event took place in 1997, that’s a full 30 years after Captain Black’s little misunderstanding with the locals…
Did we miss anything? What’s your favourite present-day invention that was predicted by a Gerry Anderson series? Leave a comment to let us know!