FAIR POINT: The Next Generation - first with modern day technology...

Patrick Stewart
Patrick Stewart
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I HAVE a confession: I’m a bit of a closet Trekkie.

I say ‘a bit’ as I rarely catch an episode these days, but there was a time – as a kid – that I had every episode of Star Trek Next Generation stashed on VHS tapes around my bedroom.

Shameful, but true.

Of course, this was in the days before DVD boxsets and Sky Planner, when we had to record each one individually and fast-forward through the adverts when we watched them back.

Ahh good times.

I was a Jean-Luc Picard girl, all the way.

I never thought much of the original series, complete with wobbly sets, busty alien women and a horny William Shatner.

Nope, for me it was always good ol’ Captain Picard with his “Make it so,” reflective bald head and schoolboy crush on the good doctor. That was good television.

I caught an episode recently.

I was channel flicking just as the opening credits started rolling and, as there was no-one else home to make fun of me, I settled down to catch up with the old team.

What a blast from the past it was!

The series has certainly dated in the last 20 years. I find it very hard to believe that any of the crew would now be caught dead in the unforgiving lycra bodysuits supposedly favoured by Starfleet Command in the 24th century.

The thing that really struck me though, on my stroll down memory lane, was how bang-on-the-money the writers of the time were in predicting the direction our technology would go.

The ‘Beam me up Scotty’ transporters may still be a work of fiction, but there were so many other things that I could call in at Meadowhall and pick up on my way home from work today.

The computer tablets they all carried for example... helloooooo... iPad anyone!?

Right around the time we were all ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ over the first colour features of the primitive Apple Macintosh, Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge was walking the corridors of the Starship Enterprise carrying an honest-to-goodness iPad.

And I even caught Captain Picard in his quarters reading on a blinkin’ Kindle! I kid you not.

The computer consoles? Touch screen – every one of them.

I even caught one crew member ‘swiping’ the screen as we do now to unlock our phones, in what must have been some very forward-thinking stage direction.

But apparently the modern look of the consoles came down to a lack of money in the Star Trek arts department as opposed to a futuristic eye.

According to Art Director Matt Jeffries, the budget was so tight in that first series that a flat ‘graphic’ surface worked out cheaper to make than a console full of knobs, buttons and switches.

Incredible.

In the next 40 minutes I spotted a communications officer wearing what appeared to be a bluetooth device in her ear and Wesley Crusher transferring data from one panel to another using neon coloured ‘isolinear chips.’ That’s a USB memory stick to you and I.

The whole ship is also voice activated which, granted, anyone who’s tried to use the frustrating ‘Siri’ will know we’re not quite there yet... but we’re close!

And finally, perhaps most incredibly, I spotted something that my boyfriend – the original tech geek – has recently purchased. A 3D printer. It’s INsane.

This thing, which looks a little like a wooden microwave, can actually print 3D objects. I don’t really get it, but am amazed by this new addition to our household that sits proudly on the desk in our office.

It has the word ‘replicator’ emblazoned across the front and will print anything you design by building up tiny layer upon layer of plastic.

It’s a far cry from the fancy replicators of Star Trek, where they can literally press a button and ZAP – a new pair of shoes, or maybe a fine bottle of wine and a portion of spag bol.

But hey, just give it another 20 years...