communicator n.

a device for communicating with a spaceship or astronaut


  • 1934 E. E. Smith Skylark of Valeron in Astounding Stories Aug. 17/1 page image Edward E. Smith bibliography

    The flying vessel had gone through the zone of feeble radiations which comprised the outer detector screen of the Fenachrone. But, though tenuous, that screen was highly efficient, and at its touch there burst into frenzied activity the communicator built by the captive to be actuated by that very impulse. It had been built during the long flight through space, and its builder had thought that its presence would be unnoticed and would remain unsuspected by the Terrestrials.

  • 1934 E. E. Smith Skylark of Valeron in Astounding Stories Aug. 29/2 page image Edward E. Smith bibliography

    ‘Observation Officer of the Z12Q, attention!’ snapped from the tight-beam headquarters communicator. ‘Cut off those spy rays and report yourself under arrest for treason!’

  • 1938 E. E. Smith Galactic Patrol in Astounding Stories Sept. 26/1 Edward E. Smith

    Space’s so full of static you couldn’t drive a power beam through it, let alone a communicator.

  • 1939 E. E. Smith in Astounding Science-Fiction Oct. 26/2 Edward E. Smith

    I never could see how you deep-space men can really understand what you’re doing—either the frightful speeds at which you travel, the distance you cover, or the way your communicators work.

  • 1943 A. E. van Vogt Concealment in Astounding Science-Fiction Sept. 89/1 A. E. van Vogt

    Decisively, she clicked off the intership communicator, made an adjustment and stepped through a transmitter into the receiving room half a mile distant.

  • 1946 A. C. Clarke Rescue Party in Astounding Science Fiction May 53/2 Arthur C. Clarke

    They had no time to ask any further questions before Alveron himself began to speak through their communicators.

  • 1947 ‘M. Leinster’ Skit-Tree Planet in Thrilling Wonder Stories Apr. 42/1 Murray Leinster

    He grinned at the profanity that came out of the communicator-speaker. Then—back at the irreverently nicknamed Galloping Cow which was the base ship of the Extra-Solarian Research Institute expedition to this star-cluster—McRae cut off.

  • 1948 A. E. van Vogt Monster in Astounding Science-Fiction Aug. 58/1 page image A. E. van Vogt bibliography

    They have now adapted our universal speech machine, so that anyone who wishes to need only speak into his communicator, and so will have his words translated into the language of the revived person.

  • 1956 R. A. Heinlein Double Star in Astounding Science Fiction Feb. ii. 29/1 Robert A. Heinlein

    Dak was busy most of the time at the ship’s communicator, apparently talking on a very tight beam for his hands constantly nursed the directional control like a gunner laying a gun under difficulties.

  • 1964 G. Roddenberry 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.

  • 1967 N. R. Jones Space War in Space War 78

    The communicators are not attuned to our own space craft—only to the ships of the Mumes.

  • 1980 D. Brin Sundiver iv.xii. 131 David Brin

    By the elevators Kepler spoke briefly into a wall communicator.

  • 1985 B. Hambly Ishmael i.19 Barbara Hambly

    After a final, cautious communicator scan of the base, he returned to the ship himself.

  • 1989 D. Dvorkin & D. Dvorkin Star Trek: Next Generation: Captains' Honor x. 179 David Dvorkin Daniel Dvorkin bibliography

    He yawned…just as his tricorder began beeping madly. Riker glanced at the tricorder’s display screen, then quickly slapped his communicator insignia.

  • 1998 W. Shatner et al. Spectre i. 16 bibliography

    And he doesn’t got a replicator…No tricorder. No communicator.

  • 2017 D. A. Goodman Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard v. 109 David A. Goodman bibliography

    Stargazer to Picard,’ came Walker’s voice over my communicator.

Research requirements

antedating 1934

Earliest cite

E. E. Smith,'Skylark of Valeron'

Research History
Fred Galvin submitted a 1997 cite from a reprint of Donald A. Wollheim's 1953 "Asteroid 745: Mauritia" (written as Martin Pearson).
Fred Galvin submitted a 1943 cite from A. E. van Vogt's "Concealment".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1946 cite from Arthur C. Clarke's "Rescue Party".
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1950 reprint of E. E. Smith's 1937 "Galactic Patrol"; Mike Christie verified the original magazine appearance.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1961 cite from Fred Saberhagen's "Planeteer".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1949 cite from William Morrison's "Free Land".
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1957 reprint of Robert A. Heinlein's 1956 "Double Star".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1947 cite from Murray Leinster's "Skit-Tree Planet".
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1960s Ace reprint of Neil R. Jones's "Space War". We would like to verify this in its original publication (Amazing Stories, July 1935)
Fred Galvin submitted cites from a 1984 reprint of E.E. "Doc" Smith's "Skylark of Valeron" (originally serialized in Astounding Stories, August 1934 to February 1935), and Mike Christie verified them in the originals.
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2017 cite from a novel in the Star Trek universe.

Note: this is listed here because the OED's definition specifies distinct uses relating to telegraphs and trains, but not for spacecraft, which is almost certainly more common now.

Last modified 2021-03-24 18:29:32
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.