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"There's a tendency to think that maybe if we can just throw enough hardware at the AI problem, then evolution can take care of the rest. Certainly that's how God went about making us."
- Rudy Rucker

Rocket-Belt  
  A single-user propulsion pack.  

It was a rocket-belt, one of several that lay there. Strapped on and touched off, it would carry him to safety.

He quickly wriggled into the harness. The motor and tube fitted on his back like a knapsack.

From The Worlds of Tomorrow, by Manly Wade Wellman.
Published by Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1940
Additional resources -

Compare to the Floater from Armageddon: 2419 A.D., by Philip Frances Nowlan, published by Amazing Stories in 1928, and the jump harness from Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein, published by Putnam in 1961.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Worlds of Tomorrow
  More Ideas and Technology by Manly Wade Wellman
  Tech news articles related to The Worlds of Tomorrow
  Tech news articles related to works by Manly Wade Wellman

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