It Was a Civil Rights Pioneer
It's no secret that miscegenation (interracial marriage) was kind of a big deal in the United States until very recently -- as in, it was totally illegal for a non-white person to marry a white person until 1967. That's why it's so shocking to learn that, just one year after that supreme court decision the Star Trek episode "Plato's Stepchildren" featured the first ever interracial kiss on scripted TV in the US. It was so controversial, even on the set, that they had to shoot it twice -- once where William Shatner (Kirk) and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) kissed, and one where they didn't. But Shatner intentionally ruined the shot where they didn't kiss, forcing the studio to use the other one.
Allegedly, he made this face.
… So what, right? It's not like the Star Trek cast was standing with the national guard outside Little Rock High School.
But then again, consider that this was the last great step forward for interracial relationships in media. After that episode aired and the planet wasn’t immediately consumed by whatever apocalypse the detractors assumed would consume it, the cabal of ancient immortals that run network TV figured "okay, so we can have white dudes boning black chicks -- but that's it." Forty five years later, and it's okay to have, say, Bob Thorton sleep with Halley Berry, but studio executives still think the country is terrified of black men and white women getting "intimate."
Yes, even when it's Will Smith
Keep in mind Uhura wasn’t a one-off character -- she was a major part of the cast and a ranking officer in Star Feelt. So not only did Star Trek take a big step forward, but it’s still probably one the biggest steps anyone has taken since.
There's also the little fact that Nichelle Nichols considered quitting the show at one point, because being the only black actor on a huge show in the 1960's totally sucked. She decided to stay when Martin Luther King Jr., a man you don't exactly say "no" to, personally asked her to stay on the show, because she was such a good role model for young black girls -- including Whoopi Goldberg, who cited Nichelle as her inspiration to get into acting.
It Invented The Mobile Phone
Science Fiction makes predictions about the future all the time (and we'll get to that in a second…) but it's more rare for the future to consciously look at science fiction and say "let's do that" -- but with Star Trek, that's exactly what happened. Twice.
A lot of people know that the flip-phone was actually invented by Star Trek, but if you're not among them then… hey, the flip phone was invented by Star Trek! Dr. Martin Coooper, inventor of the mobile phone, says that watching Captain Kirk yammer away on his communicator gave him the idea for a mobile phone, and later generations of "flip phones" imitated the iconic design.
Captain Kirk composes his next tweet.
Also, the groundbreaking media program "Quicktime" was invented when Steve Perlman, a scientist at apple, was watching an episode of Star Trek Generations where a character listens to multiple tracks of music at once.
Star Trek also invented the idea of a computer that was user-friendly, so it should come as no surprise that the first ever personal computer was named after a solar system from the Star Trek universe.
Star Trek Generations Was the First Film to Have a Website
This one seems like a no-brainer in hindsight, but it was actually a major step forward in marketing -- not just for film, but for everything. We now live in a world where water bottle focused subsidiaries of the Coca Cola Company have a website (which I didn't actually visit because what could that possibly be about?) and this phenomenon is more than a little due to Star Trek, because at some point a bunch of marketing people said "hey, Star Trek fans are nerds, nerds spend a lot of time on their computers exploring this internet thing, let's make >an internet poster for Star Trek."
No, it needs more blur!
It Invented Nerd Rage
Star Trek pre-dates Dungeons and Dragons. It predates Video Games. It predates superhero comic readers as a niche group. Star Trek nerds were the first major nerd subculture, meaning that every contemporary nerd subculture is taking its cues from them. An iconic moment in this history has got to be when Leonard Nimoy >received death threats after his character of Spock died in The Wrath of Khan.
As we all know, this "if an artist I like does something I don't like I can become angry" philosophy became the trend, most recently exemplified by people attacking BioWare for writing the "wrong" ending for their Mass Effect franchise.
The First Ever Shuttle Orbiter Was Named The Enterprise (Also Roads)In addition to consciously trying to replicate the technology, we now live in a world where people with serious power in the world are also Star Trek fans. President Obama has admitted to being a Trekkie, and so has Megan Fox.
And they are opposites of each other.
The result of this is that the first ever shuttle orbiter built for NASA was named "The Enterprise," after Kirk's ship. So were two "Star Trek Lane"s, one in Birmingham, Alabama, and one in Garland, Texas. In Las Vegas, there's "Roddenberry Avenue," located in the unincorporated township of "Enterprise."
According to Wikipedia, a small city called Turlock, California has built their streets so that you can drive up Picard Lane, and take a turn onto Warp Drive. We can't help but imagine every member of the town council, as well as the construction workers installing that sign, spent the entire construction of those roads giggling like morons.
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