Full record for tractor beam n.

Definition a device that emits a beam that causes the target to be impelled toward the source of the beam; also the beam itself
OED requirements antedating 1931
Earliest cite E. E. 'Doc' Smith 'Spacehounds of IPC'
Comment Mike Christie submitted a cite from a 1958 printing of Heinlein's "The Day After Tomorrow". The cite is not in the 1941 magazine edition. Bill Seabrook located and Mike Christie confirmed a 1948 cite from Theodore Sturgeon's "There Is No Defense". Gavin Long submitted a cite from a 2001 reprint of a 1938 Arthur C. Clarke story, "How We Went to Mars".

Courtenay Footman submitted a cite from a 1950 reprint of E.E. Smith's "Galactic Patrol", and Mike Christie verified the cite in the original 1937 magazine publication. Enoch Forrester submitted a cite from a 1965 reprint of E.E. Smith's "Triplanetary". Enoch Forrester submitted a 1944 cite from George O. Smith's "Circle of Confusion" for the form "tractor-pressor beam".

Michael Dolbear submitted a cite from a 1993 reprint of Lois McMaster Bujold's "The Vor Game". Derek Hepburn submitted a 1934 cite from E.E. Smith's "Triplanetary". Rick Hauptmann submitted a 1931 cite from E.E. Smith's "Spacehounds of IPC". Mike Christie submitted a 1965 cite from Roger Zelazny's "The Furies". Mike Christie located and J Greely confirmed a 1977 cite from Alan Dean Foster's "The End of the Matter".

Last modified 6 July, 2008

Citations for tractor beam n.

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1931 Amazing Stories Sept. 549/1 ‘We'll carry off the pieces of that ship, too, Quince—we may be able to get a lot of pointers from it,’ and Brandon swung mighty tractor beams upon the severed halves of the Jovian vessel, then extended a couple of smaller rays to meet the two little figures racing across the smooth green meadow toward the Sirius.
1937 Astounding Sci. Fiction Sept. 20/2 ‘General call! Attention! Battle stations! By stations, report!’‘Station 1, tractor beams—hot!’
1937 Astounding Sci. Fiction Sept. 22/1 Simultaneously, the tractor beams, hitherto exerting only a few dynes of force, stiffened into unbreakable, inflexible rods of energy, binding the two ships into one rigid system; each, relative to the other, immovable.
1945 ‘M. Leinster’ in Astounding Sci. Fiction June 122/1 By the way they're braced, there are tractor beams and pressor beams and—there are vacuum tubes that have grids but apparently work with cold cathodes.
1948 ‘T. Sturgeon’ in Astounding Sci. Fiction Feb. 10/2 It captures three different scanner-scouts, holding them with some sort of a tractor beam, whirling them around like a stone on a string, and letting them go straight at the nearest planet.
1960 J. White in New Worlds Sci. Fiction Jan. 5 Sections which should have fitted together very often had to be modified to make them join properly, and this necessitated moving the sections together and apart several times with massed tractor and pressor beams.
1965 Amazing Stories June 16/2 As the tractor beams had seized it, as the vibrations penetrated its ebony hull and tore at his flesh, Corgo had called‥and died just as the words and the tears began.
?1965 G. Roddenberry Scene grouping from second pilot in S. E. Whitfield & G. Roddenberry Making of ‘Star Trek’ (1968) i. viii. 154 Bridge to Briefing Lounge. Object is now within tractor beam range.
1968 S.W. Carabatsos Operation—Annihilate! in J. Blish Star Trek 2 (1968) 72 Spock, can we reach him with a tractor beam?
1973 G. R. R. Martin in Amazing Stories Jan. 45/2 Several light tractor beams did not have the power of one heavy-duty one, simply because it was difficult to coordinate them. To be at all effective, paired tractors had to lift at the same time and yank in the same direction.
1977 A. D. Foster End of Matter 210 Gradually Flinx activated the posigravity tractor beams, used for manipulating large cargo.
1986 D. Carey Battlestations! iii. 38 It's got tractor beams tied right into the warp engines.
1986 J.M. Dillard Mindshadow ii. 37 Tractor beam, Mr. Sulu.
1990 L. M. Bujold Vor Game (1993) 268 The up-and-coming weapon for ship-to-ship fighting in the last couple of years seemed to be the gravitic imploder lance, a modification of tractor-beam technology; variously-designed artificial-gravity shields were still lagging behind in protection from it.
1991 M. Weiss King's Test i.iii.24 We're gonna lock a tractor beam on to you.
1993 K. S. Robinson Green Mars (new ed.) 476 Everyone moved as if in a tractor beam, glasses in hand, all other thoughts gone as they came to the tent coping at the edge of the waterfront ‥
1995 Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch Star Trek Voyager: Escape i. 5 ‘Captain,’ Torres said. ‘Life support is failing. The shuttle is disintegrating. Request you put a tractor beam on us.’
1996 J. Gunn Joy Machine xv. 212 Kirk felt himself drawn into the study as if by a tractor beam.
1996 D. Brin Infinity's Shore (1997) 477 Worst of all, he pictured a ‘tractor beam,’ seizing and dragging him down to torment in some Jophur-designed hell.
1996 W. Shatner Return v. 25 A small personnel shuttle emerged, propelled by low-gain tractor beams.
1997 W. Shatner Avenger ii. 13 Stand by on tractor beams.
1998 W. Shatner et al. Spectre iii. 42 Mr. Karo, attach tractor beams to the Voyager.
1998 L. A. Graf & M. J. Friedman War Dragons i. 15, I doubted their ship would stand up to the grasp of the tractor beam, much less to having its tumble forcibly stilled and its whole mass accelerated along a single vector.
1999 C. Pellegrino & G. Zebrowski Star Trek Next Generation: Dyson Sphere i. 23 Neither ship shall venture close enough to be seized by the lock's tractor beams until the system is understood.
1999 M. J. Friedman My Brother's Keeper iii. v. 80 How hard is it to say ‘Set a course for Rigel Seven’? Or ‘Engage tractor beams, Mr. Kelso’?