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How William Shatner Changed the World

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
How shatner changed the world
The Enterprise flies across the screen in the title sequence for How William Shatner Changed the World

How William Shatner Changed the World is a two-hour television special produced for The History Channel in the United States. Hosted by William Shatner (Captain James T. Kirk), it focuses on technological advancements in the real world that were inspired by the Star Trek phenomenon. The show uses intentional campiness and humor to maintain a light spirit. In promotional spots prior to the show's first airing, Shatner proudly claimed that he had made such inventions as the Internet possible, before adding, "But don't take my word for it – take his." The voice-over then announced the program's title and premiere date.

The program begins by examining how ahead of its time the "Treknology" seen in Star Trek: The Original Series was. One example is Dr. McCoy's medical scanner, which inspired numerous letters from real-world physicians inquiring about the concepts behind the device. It was in fact a salt shaker.

As the show progresses, Shatner discusses how The Next Generation had to raise the technological threshold, as many ideas considered unimaginable in the 1960s had become commonplace by the late '80s and early '90s. The Heisenberg compensator is revealed to be a way the writers hoped to circumvent the laws of physics without losing credibility.

Among the fans who have been inspired by the program are Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer, who lays out the basic concepts that leads to the development of the iPod after watching Data on the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "A Matter of Time" scan through various orchestral pieces instantly at his fingertips. Also, he demonstrates a suit he believes is a predecessor to a real-world holodeck. Portable telephones are also discussed by one of their inventors, who likens Captain Kirk's communicator to a modern-day "flip phone" with voice recognition.

Although produced for The History Channel, the special actually premiered on The Discovery Channel in Canada (who co-produced the program) on 13 November 2005, receiving its first US broadcast on The History Channel on 12 March 2006. It was first shown in the United Kingdom on 24 May 2006, on Five.

Filmed mostly in Vancouver, the special featured some scenes that took place in locations shown in Star Trek TV series.

The special was nominated for two Emmy Awards in 2006 - Outstanding Nonfiction Special, and Outstanding Writing For Nonfiction Programming.

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