FOOD FOR THOUGHT: We’ve left the future behind

Not that long ago, I had the pleasure of getting my hands on one of these:

You’d be forgiven if you thought this was a publicity still from 50 years ago. (You would not be forgiven if you didn’t recognize it at all) It’s not; it’s a real thing, and you can really buy it at another site. It was a little out of Solid Signal’s “core” business so our product team took a pass. But believe it or not I have a life outside Solid Signal and getting my hands on this thing is part of that life.

Getting it in my hand it was hard to actually believe. This is an incredibly accurate prop replica and probably looks better than the original props ever did. Add to that, it’s a Bluetooth handsfree device and charges wirelessly so it’s about as accurate a thing as you can get. Trust me, the looks on people’s faces when you flip it open to take a call and it actually works… priceless. This will set your “geek cred” higher than almost anyone you’re likely to meet.

But, strange as it may seem, I’m not here to talk about this product, especially since as I said Solid Signal doesn’t sell it. I’m here to talk about the fact that as much fun as this toy is, it’s a toy; today’s modern technology has surpassed even the science fiction of 50 years ago. Today you can replicate the experience of this communicator with your smartphone’s handsfree function and your phone has a screen that gives you useful information. All this communicator shows you is this:

which doesn’t give you a lot of information although it might put you to sleep. True, your smartphone won’t do much without cell towers and other infrastructure but until we actually visit other planets we don’t have to worry about a handheld device talking to an orbiting spaceship with no other repeaters in place.

With this being the 50th year since the original Star Trek premiered, it’s probably been impossible for you to avoid at least a little bit of Trek talk, even before you happened on this article. I happen to be a lifelong fan and have been taking the time to look at the original episodes one by one. Remastering in HD hasn’t been kind to this series honestly; it was novel to see a lot more detail but all the imagination is lost; you’re left with actors walking around clearly wooden sets. It’s also very sexist by today’s standards, seeming more like Mad Men in Space than a revolutionary utopian equality.

Of course by the standards of the day it was very forward. We saw educated and powerful people of all colors and belief systems and there was a lot of attempt to address the problems of the day like racism and the youth culture. And… there was also a lot of stuff that took place on backlots where they went to ancient Rome or Nazi Germany or whatnot. It was revolutionary then, but you’re constantly reminded how far TV has come.

Not only TV, but technology, which is what I thought when I looked at the working communicator on my desk. The world has changed a lot, that’s for sure, but on the other hand I doubt I would get over the idea of having this particular device on my belt at all times. Part of me would never quite give up hoping that the Enterprise would call on it.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.