Ten Inventions Inspired by Science Fiction

The innovators behind objects like the cellphone or the helicopter took inspiration from works like “Star Trek” and War of the Worlds

Leonard Nimoy, Ep. # 1, 'The Cage' 1966 - 1969 (© Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection)

The Waldo

The Waldo
(© Roger Ressmeyer / CORBIS)
In 1942, famed sci-fi author Robert Heinlein published a short story about a physically infirm inventor, Waldo F. Jones, who created a remotely operated mechanical hand. Real-life manipulator arms that were developed for the nuclear industry in the mid-1940s were named “waldos,” in recognition of Heinlein’s innovative idea.

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