The world lost a great soul on Friday, Leonard Nimoy, who was the actor that played Spock on the Star Trek television show from 1966-69. Now normally, I don’t pay much attention to actors and wouldn’t comment on one passing in a technology blog, but Leonard Nimoy was different. He was part of something phenomenal. Along with the show’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, William Shatner and the rest of the cast, Leornard Nimoy gave us a glimpse of what our future could be like.
We take for granted things like mobile phones and voice activated software, but the first we actually saw of these concepts was on Star Trek. It was about 40 years ahead of it’s time. But technology wasn’t the only focus of the show. Star Trek gave us a vision of the future where people were more evolved, free from conflict and petty differences. In one episode, a white man kissed a black woman for the first time on television. This was precisely a moment in time when such a thing was shocking. The show took risks, probably one of the reasons why such a popular show was cancelled.
Nimoy’s character, Spock, was the most fascinating character on the show. For anyone unfamiliar, Spock was a Vulcan, an alien that was actually half-human and half-vulcan. Driven and disciplined by logic, a love for technology, and a desire to always do the right thing no matter what the personal cost, he kept fans like me coming back for more.
Nimoy didn’t create the character, Gene Roddenberry did, but there is no doubt that he brought something special to the role. Many of us who love technology have drawn inspiration from that. After all, it was Spock who consistently showed us the power of logic and of computers. Spock made knowing things cool. He gave us a sense of what a fully developed intellect would be like, in a sense, showing more potential for human growth, even though he portrayed an alien. He showed us for the first time that a geeky intellectual type could also be incredibly strong. It was a cultural shift that predated the technology revolution.
I pause to take note of all this, not only out of respect for Leornard Nimoy, who gave the world a vision of something extraordinary, but also to draw inspiration from him. It’s not possible for me to separate the man from the character he played, the two combined into something much larger for me. So, even though I never met him, it’s a lot like losing a friend, who was also as smart as Einstein and Newton. But as long as we remember them, they are not really lost.
Spock had a signature saying, “Live long and prosper.” Leonard Nimoy ended his personal tweets with #LLAP. I wonder how many tweets he did from his mobile phone. I take at least a little comfort in knowing that he got to see the world evovle a bit in his lifetime. Sometimes the dream and reality converge, even if just in small ways, and when that happens, it’s magical.