Is the Star Trek transporter inspired by The Fly?

I’m watching The Fly 1958 Halloween evening. André Delambre (Al Hedison) experiments transferring plates, newspapers, and a cat from one room to another. He tragically experiments on himself.

Did Roddenberry rip off the idea for Star Trek transporters?

I highly doubt it. The concept was pretty common in science fiction long before that movie.

And the concept was needed to keep Star Trek plots from bogging down.

It was inspired by “We don’t have enough money to build a shuttlecraft model and do the effects shots, so let’s get some lights and do a rotating scan effect on aluminum paint flakes”. It physically makes no sense and requires frequent narrative gymnastics to explain why the Enterprise can’t just beam the away team out of any hazard, or alternatively beam a photon torpedo directly into an opposing ship. JJ Abrams, of course, upped the absurdity by making it possible to do away with starships entirely and just beam across the galaxy, albeit directly into some kind of human-sized Habiitrail that leads directly into “The Chompers”, as if no one had seen Galaxy Quest.


Sci-Fi transporters go back to at least 1877 and really caught on in the pulp magazines. Many of the early stories involved something going horribly, horribly wrong.

That’s very interesting. I didn’t know the concept was that old.

You’d expect that sort of tech to go horribly wrong. Any contaminant would go into what ever transported.

How do you know this?

I watched The Fly. :wink:

Well played

Ah, but ST transporters have “filters,” as was established in “The Enemy Within.”

The only problem is (as was also demonstrated in that episode), they don’t always work.

Roddenberry is on record as saying they would have used the transporter even if they had had the budget to land a spaceship on a planet, just because it allowed them to get into the story by page 2 of the script.

Of course, why they were 100% reliant on the transporter in the above episode was never explained. They presumably either had none of the shuttlecraft introduced later on, or something about the planet was preventing their use.

That was addresses in an episode or a movie? In early days of space exploration these were 2 competing technologies for space exploration, the starship got the head start and interstellar transporters did not have the ability yet to do so dependably, the effort was thus sunk into starship tech and transporters were scaled back to more local ‘last mile’ stuff.

Going a bit further on my own, it is apparent that space is not just empty void in the ST universe but an environment of its own with its own life and full of anomalies and wonders that are to be studied. Also the strategic importance of space and a continued presents in it, and the ability to ‘hold’ it militarily seems critical for Starfleet, or any interstellar race for that matter.

There was an episode of TNG where (IIRC) they stumbled on the technology of an extinct civilization that had perfected teleportation anywhere in the Universe. They just couldn’t figure out how it worked and it ended up posing a threat to the Enterprise until Data got the hang of using it.

Sorry I can’t be more specific, but it’s been decades since I saw the episode and I don’t remember the title. Anyone who can identify it, please do!

I’d think the idea of transmitting more than just information arose soon after the invention of the telegraph and telephone. I recall reading somewhere that the first (very primitive) experiments with television started around 1877, with pixels triggered by electrical impulses transmitted over wires.

I vaguely remember that episode. I think the Romulans were there trying to steal the advanced tech. It was blown up and never spoken of again. :wink:

The transporter was very reliable in Star Trek. There were a handful of episodes that featured malfunctions. Tuvix in Voyager was the most notable.

I agree that the transporter was a very useful tool for the writers. The episodes that featured the Shuttle were a bit slow paced and clunky. I’m glad they weren’t used in many episodes.

The scientist in The Fly mentions TV signals as the inspiration for his teleporter device.

Was it Battlestar Galactica that could send copies of people to other places? I didn’t watch the show regularly.

That would be more scientific and safer. It’s a interactive TV signal with a hologram at the other location. The traveler isn’t in any danger.

By the power of teleporting over the internet, I just looked up Fred Jane’s* novel To Venus in Five Seconds.

*author of Jane’s Fighting Ships, etc.

Reading a few pages, it looks like great fun. It’s written in a very light-hearted way.

There is also this:

Also the inspiration for the teleporter in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

This one from 1877 is also a hoot. (And only four pages long.)

Maybe The Fly and Star Trek are notable for actually taking the concept seriously.

The 1969 Doctor Who story “The Seeds of Death” tells us that near the end of the 21st Century, a teleportation device called “T-Mat” (short for “Travel-Mat”) has replaced all other forms of transportation, including manned space travel. The entire world is thrown into chaos when the T-Mat breaks down.