scanner n.

a device, system, etc. used for systematically examining something or gathering data, esp. at a distance or through obstacles

The early bracketed quots., and similar examples from the early 1930s, show the closely related sense in reference to devices used to capture images of objects, esp. for televisual transmission.

  • [1930 J. W. Campbell, Jr. Voice of the Void in Amazing Stories Quarterly Summer 393/1 page image John W. Campbell, Jr. bibliography

    He wanted to reconstruct, atom for atom, the object under his fourth dimensional scanner. [Ibid. 393/2] The ship was to be sent was put in position before it; the scanner viewed it; and the signal for each atom and each molecule followed each other in swift flight on the train of light waves that was their wire.]

  • [1931 G. McLociard Television Hill in Amazing Stories Feb. 986/2 page image George McLociard bibliography

    Since no physical means can be found whereby the transmitting scanner can be made to cut off the penetrating beam, as does the scanning disc in a light-governed television machine, King had to resort to breaking the ‘secondary wave’ so as to scan distant objects.]

  • 1935 E. E. Smith Skylark of Valeron in Astounding Stories Jan. 77/2 page image Edward E. Smith bibliography

    That cabinet became instantly a manifold scanner…. Simultaneously there appeared in the air above the machine a three-dimensional model of all the Galaxies there listed.

  • 1935 ‘M. Leinster’ Proxima Centauri in Astounding Stories Mar. 20/1 page image Murray Leinster bibliography

    They had a scanner on it now and by stepping up illumination to the utmost, and magnification to the point where the image was as rough as an old-fashioned half-tone cut, they brought the strange ship to the visiplate as a six-inch miniature.

  • 1942 E. Hamilton Face of the Deep in Captain Future (1943) Winter ii. 8/1 page image Edmond Hamilton bibliography

    ‘What kind of amateur outfit do you think the Patrol is?’ Ezra demanded injuredly. ‘O’ course we searched them. We used the X-Ray “scanner” on each convict as he was brought into the ship.’

  • 1943 ‘A. Blade’ Carbon-Copy Killer in Amazing Stories July 187/1 page image Howard Browne bibliography

    Just as a picture is reproduced at the receiving end in a series of lines which lie closely packed in the same plane, this machine of the professor’s genius scans the body in all its details by means of an x-ray, duplicating every cell in its entirety in a carbon simulation. As the scanner passed over Paula’s body, the carbon particles in the cabinet were arranged into an exact duplication of her body down to the last particle.

  • 1950 C. D. Simak Time Quarry in Galaxy Science Fiction Oct. 23/1 Clifford D. Simak bibliography

    Thorne would give it the works. He would set it up in solidographs, down to the last shattered piece of glass and plastic. He would have it analyzed and diagramed and the robots would put it in scanners that would peel it and record it molecule by molecule.

  • 1953 A. Norton Star Rangers ii. 24 Andre Norton bibliography

    Fylh had triggered the scanner and it should be recording as they flew.

  • 1964 G. Roddenberry The Cage 29 June in S. E. Whitfield & G. Roddenberry Making of ‘Star Trek’™ (1968) i. iv. 60 Gene Roddenberry bibliography

    Aboard the Enterprise, all controls on the transporter have gone dead. Their scanners, communicators, all contact with the planet has been lost.

  • 1974 L. Niven & J. Pournelle Mote in God’s Eye (1975) i. vi. 59 Larry Niven Jerry Pournelle bibliography

    The forward scanners were operative and recording.

  • 1977 P. K. Dick A Scanner Darkly (1991) xi. 185 Philip K. Dick bibliography

    What does a scanner see? he asked himself. I mean, really see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does a passive infrared scanner like they used to use or a cube-type holo-scanner like they use these days, the latest thing, see into me—into us—clearly or darkly?

  • 1986 J. M. Dillard Demons i. 11 J. M. Dillard bibliography

    Our scanners cannot penetrate this material.

  • 1995 D. W. Smith & K. K. Rusch Star Trek Voyager: Escape xi. 117 Dean Wesley Smith Kristine Kathryn Rusch bibliography

    First he used the instrument to scan the plate. Then he swept the scanner over the entire area.

  • 2019 Y. H. Lee Dragon Pearl xii. 106 Yoon Ha Lee bibliography

    The targeting system showed two hostile fighters. I checked the tactical scanner, which told me the ships had identical capabilities.

Research requirements

antedating 1935

Research History
Fred Galvin submitted a 1950 cite from Clifford D. Simak's "Time Quarry".
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a number of cites.

Last modified 2022-09-22 12:22:23
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.