The Impact of 80s Sci-Fi Movies on Modern Technology

When people think of 80s movies, they often think of the fashion, the music or the cheesy dialogue. However, there was one area in which these movies had a much bigger impact than anyone could have predicted. The technology within these sci-fi movies has gone on to shape our modern-day technological advancements. Here are just a few examples of this impact.

Laptops and Tablets

In ‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’ (1986), Scotty from the USS Enterprise is transported to the year 1986 where he picks up a… mouse. This is the first time we see a computer mouse in a movie, which was still a relatively new invention at the time. However, that’s not the only futuristic gadget he gets his hands on. He also gets his hands on a laptop. At the time of the film’s release, laptops were not only rare, but only available to the upper class of society. Today, we can’t imagine life without our portable computers.

Similarly, in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (1968), the astronauts are seen using tablet-like devices as they navigate through space. Of course, we didn’t get the first real tablet until much later with the release of the iPad in 2010. However, this idea of personal devices that could be carried with you has been a popular one in sci-fi since the 60s.


The idea of holograms first entered the public conscious through ‘Star Wars’ (1977), but it was films like ‘Blade Runner’ (1982) that really helped to take things to the next level. In the film, we see Deckard (Harrison Ford) interacting with a computer-generated image of an animated female character. While it wasn’t quite a true hologram, it was this idea of interacting with a three-dimensional image on a screen that really got people thinking. Today, holograms have become a reality with companies like Musion 3D using this technology in live concerts and events.

Smart Homes

In the 80s, the idea of a ‘smart home’ was seen as the ultimate luxury. It’s no surprise then that this idea was often explored in sci-fi movies. In fact, ‘Back to the Future Part II’ (1989) sees Marty McFly heading to the year 2015 where he is greeted by a house that can be controlled completely by voice commands. While we may not yet have flying cars and hoverboards, smart homes are a very real thing in 2021. We have everything from smart bulbs to fridges that can order your groceries for you.

Virtual Reality

’80s movies definitely had a fascination with virtual reality, and this has had a major impact on modern-day technology. Films like ‘Tron’ (1982) and ‘The Lawnmower Man’ (1992) had audiences dreaming of a world where we could step into a digital world and experience things like never before. Today, virtual reality (VR) is becoming increasingly popular in gaming and even used in areas like training for surgeons. It’s impressive how far technology has come since the days of ‘Tron’!


From laptops to smart homes to virtual reality, the impact of 80s sci-fi movies on modern technology cannot be overstated. These films had a major influence on how we imagine the future, and that influence has been seen clearly in the technology we use today. It’s exciting to think about what other technological advancements we may see in the future, and it’s almost certain that sci-fi movies will once again have a major role to play in shaping our imagination.