Did Knight Rider Inspire All of Apple’s Great Ideas?

Knight Rider Steve Jobs

Today, I’m going to post a very risky blog. I’m going all in.

First, I’m going to reveal the deepest, darkest, nerdiest secret I have… my unrelenting love of all things Knight Rider. Second, I’m going to call Apple on the carpet in a big way and essentially imply that they ripped off all their best ideas from the show. As a loyal cult follower of the original Knight Rider TV show (and its sub-par spin-offs), I suddenly realized that all of the cool apps and features of my iPhone/iPad seemed eerily familiar. I’d experienced them before, albeit vicariously.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a list of all the things that people love on their Apple devices that Knight Rider was doing in the 80s!

Siri = K.I.T.T.
The voice of the Knight Industries Two Thousand (K.I.T.T.) was a far more advanced version of Siri.  In spite of the nasally twang that got old after awhile (William Daniels did the voice work), K.I.T.T.’s voice was endearing and had far more personality than Siri will ever have.  Plus, when you asked K.I.T.T. to “call Devon”, he didn’t call Cousin Bob.

Facetime = Video Calling
Michael Knight used video calls (Facetime) before iPads were even a mere twinkle in Apple’s eye.  And the best part was that he could do it while driving, aka “on the network”, and not just when he was parked near the WiFi signal at the local Holiday Inn.

Maps = “Plot me a course…”
K.I.T.T.’s map feature, although not as visually appealing as the native Maps app found on the iPhone, was super accurate and could track the movements of other objects and vehicles while plotting intercept directions. Unlike my iPhone GPS, which plots me a course to the middle of a pond most times.

iTunes = Polyphonic Synthesizer
Lest you think K.I.T.T. was a purely utilitarian creation, numerous stories tell the tale of how K.I.T.T.’s polyphonic synthesizer brought joy to mirthful bands of youngsters, provided cruising music to Michael Knight as he drove down the PCH, and even forced the surrender of criminals by mimicking police sirens. Apple’s iTunes app can do some of those things but to date it’s never been responsible for bringing any criminals to justice.

iWatch = Commlink
Michael Knight’s special Commlink watch provided direct communications access to K.I.T.T., allowing dialogue, video and audio recording, and even magical door unlocking powers.  Apple’s iWatch product is a nod in this direction, but it most certainly will not shoot magic unlocking rays at locked doors.

Gorilla Glass = Molecular Bonded Shell
We all know that iPhone glass is scratch resistant and super strong. But can it withstand bullets?  Lasers? Acid water?  K.I.T.T.’s molecular bonded shell could withstand just about anything and Apple (ok, Corning) most certainly used it as inspiration for pursuing Gorilla Glass.

Camera = Camera
This comparison is fairly straightforward. Both K.I.T.T. and the iPhone/iPad have a camera feature.  However, K.I.T.T.’s camera is voice activated.  I have yet to be able to say, “Siri, take a photo of every person that walks through that door.”  K.I.T.T. wins again.

Game Center = Video Games
Occasionally, Michael Knight would play video games on K.I.T.T.’s monitors, much to the chagrin of Bonnie (or April, if you’re watching season 2).  Apple’s Game Center (plus those Angry Birds and all gaming apps) were obviously inspired by this.

Square/PayPal = Money Dispenser
Countless times in the show Michael Knight needed cash. Maybe for a bribe, maybe for betting on horses, maybe just to buy lunch. No one is sure if this cash came from a box full of cash or if K.I.T.T. printed it on demand, but either way, it’s awesome.  With apps like PayPal and Square, our iPhones and iPads basically dispense money too.

The list goes on and on, but you get the idea. Based on what we’ve learned, what should we expect from Apple in the coming years?  Could we use other fancy tools from the show to predict future Apple products?  Maybe… check these out!

Michael Knight

Ultraphonic Chemical Analyzer:
K.I.T.T. had a little drawer that slid out, allowing objects to be analyzed on a molecular level. Expect Apple to incorporate something like this into a future app or iPhone, most likely on the hardware level. It could be revolutionary for crime scene investigation!

K.I.T.T. was able to transmit a jamming signal that would lock up brakes, engines, electronic devices, etc… Look for a similar transmitting technology to be included in Apple products down the road.

Medical Scanner:
If someone was injured or sick, K.I.T.T. could instantly assess their vitals and injuries using his medical scanner.  Apple will come out with something along these lines, maybe a third party app or a piece of hardware, that will do the same thing.

Flame Thrower:
K.I.T.T. had a flame thrower and wasn’t afraid to use it.  Apple will include flame throwers in some product in the future although probably not with Siri voice-integration.  The lawyers will certainly have a say in that one.

Third Stage Aquatic Synthesizer:
Who’s to say that heavy and expensive electronics can’t be exposed to water?  K.I.T.T.’s third-stage aquatic synthesizer created total waterproofing as well as the ability to cruise across the high seas like a boat. One day iPhones and iPads will be totally waterproof.

Look, we’ve got to admit that class inspires class. So, kudos to Apple for realizing the vision set forth by Michael Knight, The Foundation for Law and Government, Bonnie, Devon, and all the cast and crew from the best show ever to grace the television.

  • If you love Knight Rider, I’m sure you’ve either seen my work or heard of my book. From one die hard Knight Rider fan to another, nicely written article Jon.

  • Thanks Nick, very cool and great job on the companion, I’ll have to pick it up.

    Apple wishes they had a Bonnie!

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