Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"[Science fiction] is the one literary medium left in which we have a free hand. We can do any damn thing we please."
- Alfred Bester

Telescreen  
  Very early use of the idea of using technology to monitor human activity at a distance.  

One of the main themes of 1984 is the control of individuals and information in society by the state. One tool is the Telescreen, an obligatory and dominant item in the homes of the inhabitants of London, capital city of Airstrip One (previously known as England).

Behind Winston's back the voice from the telescreen was still babbling away about pig-iron and the overfulfilment of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.
From 1984, by George Orwell.
Published by Unknown in 1948
Additional resources -

Television surveillance is an now and everyday experience, albeit most often in the form of security cameras and speed cameras; argument rages over the goodness or otherwise of these systems.

This quote has a bit more physical description:

Inside the flat a fruity voice was reading out a list of figures which had something to do with the production of pig-iron. The voice came from an oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror which formed part of the surface of the right-hand wall. Winston turned a switch and the voice sank somewhat, though the words were still distinguishable. The instrument (the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely.

It's possible that the idea of a television screen that transmitted as well as received might be present in this quote from Catch That Rabbit, a 1944 story by Isaac Asimov:

"I'm going to install a visiplate right over my desk... Then I'm going to focus it at whatever part of the mine is being worked, and I'm going to watch."

George Orwell did not orginate the word telescreen. An earlier use can be found in a 1938 short story by writer A.J. Burks:

Floods, fires, hold-ups, sports events—nothing escaped the all-seeing powers of the telescreens.

Earlier still (!), Francis Flagg (a pseudonym of George Henry Weiss'), wrote in After Armageddon (1932):

It was on the tele-screen that I viewed the mobs coursing through the streets; via the news-dispenser I listened to the latest tidings from all over the country.

See the entry for the Televisor from Arthur J. Burks' 1938 novella The Challenge of Atlantis for more details. Also, compare to the street membranes from Yevgeny Zamyatin's 1922 We. Consider also the Mirror Grid Multiple-View Surveillance Panel from Wandl, The Invader (1939) by Ray Cummings.

(This item was originally contributed by Simon Smith.)

Comment/Join this discussion ( 3 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from 1984
  More Ideas and Technology by George Orwell
  Tech news articles related to 1984
  Tech news articles related to works by George Orwell

Telescreen-related news articles:
  - Accenture Gets US VISIT Biometric Security Contract
  - Computerized Surveillance Devices Open Their Eyes
  - Apple Apparently Working On Orwell's Telescreen
  - Onboard Threat Detection System For Big Brother Airlines
  - Big Brother Test Hall At Penn State
  - Gesture Recognition TV Watches You
  - LCD Panel Fingerprint Scanner
  - Orwell's Telescreen Now Available
  - Emotion Tracking Big Comedy Brother
  - CCTV Camera Watches, Attached LCD Tells You How To Behave
  - Orwell's '1984' Hits Bestseller Lists Thanks To PRISM
  - Stasi Colonel Says Obama Surveillance Is 'Dream Come True'
  - Capitalist Big Brother Co-Opts Regular Big Brother

Articles related to Surveillance
'Alexa For Residential' A Landlord's Dream (Tenant's Nightmare?)
Foiling Facial Recognition, Fighting Coaster Viruses, Harlan Ellison-Style
Adversarial Pattern Shirts Confound Object Detection Systems
A Passing Drone Has Covid-19 Advice

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.

<Previous
Next>

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

 

 

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

More News

Tesla Will Have Metal Gear Snake Autocoupler, Musk Confirms
'Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at first I did not see it as a machine, in spite of its metallic glitter.'

Starlink Satellites Leading Edge On-Orbit Debris Mitigation
Propulsion-assisted orbital decay, brought to you by SpaceX.

Healight Ultraviolet Endotracheal Device Has Covid-19 Treatment Potential
'He applied the tip of the instrument to the interior of the wound...'

Parents Use AI To See One Last Message From Their Deceased Son
'...what's to keep me from showing face, Man?'

Satoshi Tomizu Creates Pocket Universes And Worldcraft Bubbles In Glass
'The Worldcraft bubble glittered, catching the light...'

Space Hero Inc. Offers Trip To ISS As Reality Show Prize
'This is Elmer Schmitz, presenting to you the finalists in our Aviation Quiz Program...'

I Love Ceiling-Mounted Robots
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'

Armano Remote Control Excavator
'The bulldozer moved through the... mine... '

OK, NASA 3D Printer Of Food Not Yet Star Trek Food Synthesizer
Maybe not, but we're seeing definite progress.

Kelly Clarkson Show Like Black Mirror '15 Million Merits'
'These people are pieces of software called avatars.'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.