"Retire? Yeah, I want to die with my head in the typewriter. That's my idea of retirement."
- Alfred Bester
||Artificial Eye Drone
||A remote flying device that transmits its view to the operator.
This is a very early use of this concept.
|From a drawer in the stand, Dundonald took a small cotton-filled box.
Carefully be extracted from it what
seemed to be a crystal marble less than
an inch in diameter. His faint smile
widened. Within the small compass of
this simple-looking pellet was lodged a
tiny mechanism, the most delicate and
revolutionary in the world.
First of all, there was within it the power to see and register images. The development of that power had required years of heart-straining research and experimentation in photomechanics. His materials had included wires and screens of the most costly elements, as minute in their exquisite accuracy as they were gigantic in their conception.
Too, he had employed nerve tissues of animals, treated to do things that they had never attained during their organic life. Included with this power was another - that of independent and almost limitless flight, occasioned by a diminutive motor that could receive and use at a distance the current from Dundonald's dynamos. The crystal ball was, in short, an eye. An eye that could not only see, but fly, roam, travel at speeds and in directions to suit its operator, transmitting its impressions across the intervening space.
He laid the bright particle beside the globe, then turned back a hinged portion of the stand's top. Underneath was a sort of keyboard, upon which he laid his hands as though to strike a chord upon a piano.
A new vibration rose, more intense than that which had involved the houseful of motors. The little crystal ball stirred, then floated slowly upward like a bubble. Dundonald shifted his careful fingers on the keys, and the pellet paused, hanging motionless in mid-air a little higher than the scientist's head.
Dundonald bent and peered into the eyepieces. Immediately it was as if he saw himself from above. Tousled hair, furrowed brow, sharp nose half hidden by the twin tubes into which he gazed - again he smiled his triumph. The vision was as clear as the human eye itself.
He drew back and struck yet a third combination on the keys. The little mote that was his roving viewpoint sped out of the door like a winged diamond...
Back he jerked to peer into the globe, his hands manipulating the keys.
by Manly Wade Wellman.
Published by Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1938
Additional resources -
Compare to the copseyes from Larry Niven's 1972 story Cloak of Anarchy, Eyes from This Moment of the Storm (1966) by Roger Zelazny and the Raytron apparatus (1928) from Beyond the Stars by Ray Cummings.
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