"“Said the public to Dennis Gabor ‘Just what is holography for?’ ‘With pictures in three Dimensions,’ said he, The love-stuff is really hard-core” A limmerick by Isaac Asimov about holographic pornography, because why not? Dennis Gabor was the Hungarian physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing holography."
Ironically, while holography is one of the few items on this list that actually exists, science-fiction writers did not anticipate its invention, and it was unheard of in fiction before it was invented. Even then, sci-fi depictions of holography were inspired by the hyperbolic predictions of futurists. According to Sean Johnston, author of Holographic Visions: A History of New Science, the first story with holograms as a main plot point was The Poet in the Hologram in the Middle of Prime Time by Edward Bryant, which saw the technology used for a kind of 3D TV, much like what was sold by the Conductron Corporation, the first private company to seek investors in holographic technology.
But 20 years before that, in 1951, Isaac Asimov was already thinking bigger. His seminal Foundation series of novels saw the protagonist Hari Seldon record holographic messages to the future, stored in a time vault. I read Foundation as a teenager, and the image that stuck in my mind is a holographic cigar box that looks like it’s made from water. I might be misremembering that, but in my opinion, that’s way cooler than any other real or fictional application of the technology.
Using holographic technology to record messages brings us to the most iconic use of holograms in sci-fi. That other long-running space opera, Star Wars. Princess Leia’s plaintive message to Obi-Wan Kenobi established the glitchy monochrome look of holograms in fiction.
Then there’s the also long-running British sci-fi show Red Dwarf, which debuted a year after Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced holograms to the Star Trek universe but was written five years before. Red Dwarf features Arnold Rimmer, a sentient hologram in the vein of Star Trek: Voyager’s Doctor, same acerbic arrogant personality.
One last example of holograms in fiction is J.G. Ballard’s bonkers 1981 postmodern satire, Hello, America, in which a madman going by the name of President Charles Manson attempts to make America great again, after it’s been abandoned due to ecological disaster, with holograms of Mickey Mouse, Marilyn Monroe, …and the Starship Enterprise.