"Science fiction operates a little bit like science itself, in principle. You've got thousands of people exploring ideas, putting forth their own hypotheses. Most of them are dead wrong; a few stand the test of time; everything looks kind of quaint in hind"
This is the earliest reference found (thus far) in science fiction for the idea of a cylindrical space station that is spun to create artificial gravity.
This same idea is stated in detail in The Problem of Space Travel - The Rocket Motor, written by Herman Potočnik (pseudonym Hermann Noordung) in 1928. The book was published in German in 1929, and was translated into Russian in 1935; it was finally translated into english by NASA in 1999).
(Herman Potočnik Habitat Wheel (author's illustration))
These conditions are, however, best fulfilled when the station is laid out in the shape of a large wheel as previously indicated: the rim of the wheel is composed out of cells and has the form of a ring braced by wire spokes towards the axis. Its interior is separated into individual rooms by partitions; all rooms are accessible from a wide corridor going around the entire station. There are individual rooms, larger sleeping bays, work and study areas, mess hall, laboratory, workshop, dark room, etc., as well as the usual utility areas, such as a kitchen, bath room, laundry room and similar areas. All rooms are furnished with modern day comforts; even cold and warm water lines are available. In general, the rooms are similar to those of a modern ship. They can be furnished just like on Earth because an almost normal, terrestrial gravitational state exists in these rooms...
His ideas spread rapidly in the nascent rocketry and aeronautics groups of the time, despite the lack of translations; it's likely that Williamson picked up on them.
As a space station, compare to the brick moon from The Brick Moon (1869) by Edward Everett Hale, the New Moon Casino from One Against the Legion (1939) by Jack Williamson, the asteroid space station from Misfit (1939) by Robert Heinlein, the Venus Equilateral Relay Station from QRM - Interplanetary (1942) by George O. Smith, Wheelchair from Waldo (1942) by Robert Heinlein, the space transfer station from Between Planets (1951) by Robert Heinlein, the Sargasso Asteroid from The Stars My Destination (1956) by Alfred Bester, the tether space station from Tank Farm Dynamo (1983) by David Brin and the high orbit archipelago from Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988) by William Gibson.
Thanks to Fred Kiesche of The Eternal Golden Braid for providing the quote for this item.
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