6. Arthur C. Clarke
Predicted: The iPad and online newspapers in 1968.
Famed science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke employed an unprecedented collaborative process with Stanley Kubrick to complete the film and novel versions of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Author and director frequently compared notes; the novel and screenplay were written simultaneously, with Kubrick contributing heavily to Clarke’s work and vice-versa. One bizarrely accurate prediction makes a prominent appearance in both: in the film 2001, two astronauts can be seen reading a newspaper on something that looks suspiciously like an iPad.
As odd as that is, the description—and name—of the device given in Clarke’s novel is even more startling:
“When he had tired of official reports, memoranda and minutes, he would plug his . . . Newspad into the ship’s information circuit and scan the latest reports from Earth. One by one, he would conjure up the world’s major electronic papers . . . Each had its own two-digit reference. When he punched that, a postage-sized rectangle would expand till it neatly filled the screen and he could read it with comfort. When he finished he could flash back to the complete page and select a new subject for detailed examination . . . one could spend an entire lifetime doing nothing but absorbing the ever-changing flow of information from the news satellites.”
This description, and the depiction in Kubrick’s film, were so dead-on that Samsung used them in defense of its Galaxy tablet when Apple sued for patent infringement—litigation that is still pending in US courts.