[SIGCIS-Members] Query: mobile phones and science fiction

McMillan, William W william.mcmillan at cuaa.edu
Wed Oct 13 17:03:57 PDT 2021

I don't know if a comic strip counts as sci fi, but there was the wrist radio of detective Dick Tracy, going back to 1946:


"It was powered by a strong atomic battery [ ! ], and used an aerial wire that ran up the inside of the wearer's sleeve. It was considered vastly superior to bulky walkie-talkies or CB radio devices, and was used very effectively by Dick Tracy<https://dicktracy.fandom.com/wiki/Dick_Tracy> and the members of his department."

A radio, but with the functionality of a mobile phone.  In 1964 the device became a wrist TV.

I don't know of any academic or historical consideration of the gadget.


From: Members [members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org] on behalf of Andrew Russell [arussell at arussell.org]
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2021 3:29 PM
To: members at lists.sigcis.org
Subject: [SIGCIS-Members] Query: mobile phones and science fiction

Hi again SIGCIS - please see below, forwarded with permission via Peggy Kidwell -

From: Baker, Alexi <alexi.baker at yale.edu<mailto:alexi.baker at yale.edu>>
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2021 2:14 PM
To: rete at maillist.ox.ac.uk<mailto:rete at maillist.ox.ac.uk> <rete at maillist.ox.ac.uk<mailto:rete at maillist.ox.ac.uk>>
Subject: [rete] History of telecommunications / mobile phones

This is perhaps going a bit far afield in the history of technology, but I have a student who is interested in the history of mobile phones with respect to science fiction. She is in particular interested in how the development of such telecommunications influenced, was represented in, and was influenced by science fiction films. Do any of you happen to know of historians who have focused on the development of mobile phones and/or on the relationship between sci fi and technology in general?

Many thanks for any suggestions - Alexi

Dr. Alexi Baker
Division of the History of Science & Technology
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
Tel. 203-737-3084
alexi.baker at yale.edu<mailto:alexi.baker at yale.edu>

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