Captain Kirk Explains the Microprocessor to You

Back in the day before email and iPods and great big red rockets that sent you information on the universe and related subjects, a lot of people had no idea what a microprocessor was. Understandably, they needed someone to educate them on this point. Someone was genius enough to think, “Who better than a starship captain?

There are so many things I like about the video [linked above, as AT&T’s proprietary video player doesn’t resize to fit this post], from the sweeping opening shot of all those antique computers to Shatner’s fantastic 70s suit. Ultimately, every informational video about science is bound to become obsolete one day, but computer technology is so prevalent in the world we occupy that a film like this gains a special kind of rosy sheen.

One day, not so long ago, this was all new.

What will children growing up now think of a video like this when they are finally adults? What will it mean to them? It’s a melancholy thought; the same way that we cannot truly imagine what it would be like to live without eletricity and mechanical means of transportation, future generations won’t be able to fathom what life was like without the internet, a cell phone, all their music stored in something smaller than a pack of cigarettes.

Sometimes I reckon it’s the reason why SFF has always held such a specific fascination with time travel. We want a glimpse of that life. And by that token, this video actually allows us that.

Thanks, Captain Kirk.

[Thanks to Janice Berg for the tip!]


Emily Asher-Perrin remembers when computers had green text on black screens. She played Oregon Trail on them, and nothing beat that on a dull day at school. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

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