Bridges / Control Rooms – The Good, The Bad, and The Overly-Familiar

22 Jul

REALITY

Just for comparison, here’s a real (very modern) ship’s bridge – from the HSV 2 Swift, used by the US Navy.

FICTION

Over time, the there seem to have been two major changes proceeding through fictional bridges; (1) they get prettier, and (2) they get more luxurious.

An early view of travel to the moon from 1919 (note the ship’s wheels!):

Early “Star Trek” Enterprise bridge:

Late “Star Trek” Enterprise brige – much more comfortable:

Blakes 7” – the Liberator had padded couches in the command centre, allowing crew to lounge around but rush to battle stations in seconds:

And controls don’t get much prettier than the “glowing in mid-air” of a Taelon shuttle from “Earth Final Conflict“:

SAME PROBLEMS, SAME SOLUTIONS

There are reasons why some control rooms work well, and others don’t. As others have commented, the bridge of the Comsmostrator (from 1958’s “First Spachip on Venus“) reminds one of the that of the Enterprise (from 1966). A simple case of parallel evolution.

Indeed, I can recall when “Star Trek” first showed in New Zealand (around 1968), a local magazine published drawings of the bridge layout with a comment that it had been copied by an American hospital because it was so efficient. (Though I have no idea if that was really the case.)

DOING IT ON THE CHEAP

Sometimes the reason why some of the control rooms look so similar, is that they ARE the same – or at least use the same recycled props. Here are two banks of computers that used parts of the AN/FSQ-7 computer. On the left is “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” – Season 4 (1967), while on the right is an episode of  “Flash Forward” from 2009 – that’s 42 years later!

These two images taken from the fascinating StarringTheComputer.com website which groups tv and movies by the (often wildly anachronistic) computers used in them. The list for the ubiquitous Burroughs B205 tape drives is also amusing.

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