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Technology

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Technology in the world of Fallout is different from ours. First, due to the Divergence, it has developed in a radically different direction. It's a world in which integrated circuits were developed very late and even then their popularity was limited, as people preferred the more resistant and reliable vacuum tubes. Second, the technology has progressed beyond our current level, as the development proceeded all the way until 2077 and even further in certain cases (such as the Enclave).

Much of Fallout's world and technology is inspired by 1950s pulp science fiction. The world is not our own, functioning due to a different set of rules. It is a world in which radiation can mutate people into ghouls and portable directed energy weapons are not only viable but also (relatively) widespread. This article aims to summarize the available information and present just how advanced the technology of Fallout is.

Energy[edit | edit source]

Fusion adds the power to the armor

One of the key elements of the backstory are the Resource Wars, fought for the last remaining energy resources on Earth. In the wake of the crisis, as the economy ground to a halt, the United States sought alternatives to energy derived from fossil fuels. In 2060, hydrocarbon fuels became too precious to waste on automobiles so other alternatives were beginning to be explored.[1] Researchers arrived at two solutions - utilizing fission and fusion as the primary power sources. The first crude fusion cell was unveiled in 2066,[2] providing the United States with an edge and averting its imminent bankruptcy.

By 2077, microfusion cells were commonplace, used widely as chargers for energy-consuming technology, ranging from laser rifles to cars. However, perhaps the most representative element of the new energy source is the iconic T-51 power armor, powered by a back-mounted TX-23 Micro Fusion pack, with enough fuel capacity to allow operation for nearly a century.

Fission power sources have found their use as well, as power sources for robots,[3] which can utilize a nuclear power unit as its energy source orell backup generators (typically Wattz Electrobox units, like the one used in Broken Hills).

All the spent radioactive material had to be disposed of somewhere and the deserts of the American Southwest, especially the Mojave Desert, became prime dumping grounds.[4]

In some places such as Acadia National Park, companies like Verdant-Air Wind Power used wind turbines as a sustainable source of energy.

Vehicles[edit | edit source]

Nothing can stop a Highwayman

In 2077, due to the oil crisis, gasoline was no longer a viable car fuel, even more so with the excellent power the automobiles had. As such, many car companies have desperately pursued research into alternative power sources, with Chryslus Motors finally patenting the successor to gasoline: electric engines, powered by energy cells.[5] Charged with fusion cells, a Chryslus Corvega or Highwayman featured 800+ horsepower and acceleration from 0 to 60 MPH in under a second, all done with a full analog system and no computers.[6] However, not many of these cars were produced and those that were had a limited success due to their hefty price tag ($199,999.99 for a Corvega).[7]

Unlike the bulky and harder to maintain electric and nuclear vehicles, Steam-powered trucks were also being used by 2161, as they were very viable for transit in the post-Apocalypse. The Master and his Unity made significant use of the trucks in such dastardly deeds as attacking Necropolis or Vault 13.[8][9]

Monorails became a relatively common mode of transportation before the Great War. Typically elevated (although suspension is notedverification overdue, remove), these rail lines are notable for their abundance in the highly congested areas, such as the Columbia Commonwealth,[10] and downtown Las Vegas.[11]

Personal protection[edit | edit source]

Standard issue combat armor

One of the most noticeable technological leaps was made in the field of protecting people from harm (as well as causing it, but more on that later). The United States was especially proficient at doing so, as its research into polymers paid off, resulting in suits of advanced combat armor being widely deployed across the country to police and military forces, sometimes even civilians with a special BADTFL permit.[12] This armor protected the wearer considerably from conventional and explosive damage as well as laser and plasma, a trait quite useful on the modern battlefield.

Another example of considerable advancement is the power armor, an armoured suit with a hydraulic endoskeleton, powered by a fusion pack, designed to be a one-man tank replacing traditional, inefficient vehicles in their role.[13] It is an exclusively American technology, which is also the root of many other technologies, such as the aforementioned cold fusion.

Even the Great War failed to stall research into the technology, as the Enclave continued to develop new suits to create an even more powerful suit than the pre-War cutting edge T-51b power armor.

An interesting example of research into personal protection exists, in the form of the Tesla armor, a suit based on Nikola Tesla's blueprints, in which Tesla Attraction Coils attract and disperse energy attacks, providing a surprisingly effective protective apparel and another example of how Fallout's physics are different than our own.

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Section needed (Stealth technology)
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Robotics[edit | edit source]

Main article: Robot

A fledgling field of science in our world has become a thriving industry of its own in the Fallout world. Robots are widely used and have reached a very high level of refinement and advancement. They can operate individually, can process visual and audio data in real time and make tactical decisions in the heat of the moment, operate human or inbuilt weapons with deadly accuracy and even host artificial intelligences.[14]

An indication of just how advanced robotics were is the fact, that robots were commercially available to civilians and companies, apart from the military - Mister Handy and protectron robots being the best examples of just how widespread and popular they were.

Weapons[edit | edit source]

Fo1 laser rifle.png

Likely the single field in which the greatest advancements were made, weaponry of the Fallout world is varied and incredibly advanced in some regards. Apart from conventional weapons based on combustion of gunpowder, energy weapons development advanced at a rapid pace, allowing for the creation of mass produced laser, plasma and pulse rifles.

While many conventional weapons echo those available in our world (such as the AK-112 assault rifle or the humble service rifle), there was considerable progress in the development of conventional weapon, including bullpup and caseless ammunition designs and advances in polymers.[15] Yet, there is a single type of weapon that is pure science-fiction: man-portable miniguns. Developed not only by America,[16] these massive rotary cannons are capable of delivering extreme firepower in a compact package.

Yet they were still horribly bulky and inefficient when compared with energy weapons. These advanced armaments were developed to be powered with microfusion cells, although battery packs or cabled power systems could also be used as well.[17] There are three distinct types of these weapons in the wastelands - laser based, which emit a several megawatt beam of coherent light,[18] plasma based, relying on delivering damage via condensed plasma and pulse based, in which the damage is done via a powerful electrical energy pulse, and electromagnetic pulse. The United States Armed Forces were principally interested in the development of these weapons and employed them widely.[19] The Enclave, a successor to the U.S. government, followed this trend.

Other curious offshoots of research were conducted for find ways to harm other humans. One such example was the Gauss coilgun technology. Originating in Germany,[20] the weapons fired a small caliber metal slug (2mm energy cell) down a barrel surrounded by magnets, propelling it to extreme speeds and guaranteeing massive damage upon impact. Similarly, railguns were also developed, with West Tek developing the X277 magnetic rail cannon specifically.

Another strange weapon technology that was researched was the use of microwave radiation to cause harm to biological tissues.[21] Less then lethal weapons were also being developed.[22]

Biomedical technologies[edit | edit source]

Chem stimpak.png

Yet another startlingly advanced field in the Fallout world, biomedical science flourished in the retro-futuristic world. The most basic example, the stimpak is astounding by our standards - a self contained stimulation delivery package, sending the cells into a replication frenzy, swiftly healing minor wounds, doing in seconds what often takes days by regular means. Furthermore, superior versions of stimpaks also existed – the super stimpak and Ultra stimpak – which can heal even the worst of injuries at a minor cost of health damage from the frenzy of replication a few minutes later.

Furthering the gap between out technology and that of Fallout is the presence of automatons whose sole purpose was to detect illness and quickly treat it. Machines like ACE and Auto-Docs were programmed to perform even the most difficult medical procedures without the presence of classically train personnel. Unlike Auto-Docs however, machines like ACE were designed with tanks that the patient was submerged in during healing.

Of course, developments also took place in fields other than healing, namely, pharmaceutical enhancement. In comparison, our drugs look like primitive hallucinogenics, as those in the Fallout world last longer and have much stronger effects. Buffout, synthetic steroids, amplifies Strength and Endurance greatly, Mentats increase Intelligence and Perception while psycho increases both resistance to pain and physical damage. Not to mention cryoscience being an uncommon thing for a doctor to be trained in.[23]

Yet all of the above pales in comparison with truly revolutionary technologies. Beginning with the ability to easily clone replacement limbs and organs for humans,[24] through implants permanently enhancing the human body[25] all the way to viruses capable of rewriting human DNA and altering their physical appearance in real time. This last, most phenomenal achievement is called the FEV, Forced Evolutionary Virus.

Computers[edit | edit source]

Compared to other fields, computers are strangely primitive - while portable units (such as RobCo Industries Pip-Boys) and robots exist, it seems that the actual processing power is quite low (64k of RAM in Enclave terminals[26]), contrasting with other advanced technologies. Their frames are also typically large and blocky, compared to the small, sleek forms of today. One of the main reasons for this is that the computers in the Fallout universe are based on a mismatch of integrated circuits and vacuum tubes. Reason for this is uncertain, although it is possible that there simply was a monopoly on advanced computer manufacturing - many robots would seem to require much more computing power than is available for common computers around the wastelands, and there were some supercomputers in existence - most of them owned by the U.S. government.

Another example are displays, all CRT with no LCDs in sight. Barcoding and the internet both existed.

Super science[edit | edit source]

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Teleportation[edit | edit source]

Molecular Relay[edit | edit source]

The most closely-guarded secret of the Institute, the Molecular Relay allows for teleportation and operates via the Classical Radio station. It is known to cause strong interference across all wavelengths of the electronmagnetic spectrum, and this interference can be identified and followed by listening to the radio it operates over.[27] Institute Coursers have a direct connection to the Relay with special hardware that is embedded within their head.[28]

References

  1. Fallout Bible 0: "2060 Traffic on the streets of the world stops moving. Fuel becomes too precious to waste on automobiles, so alternatives are explored - electric and fusion cars begin to be manufactured, but factories can only make limited amounts. Pressure on fusion research increases."
  2. Fallout Bible 0: "2066 Spring As the oil resources dry up across the globe, China's fossil fuel dependency causes an energy crisis in the nation. China, bordering on collapse, becomes more aggressive in its trade talks with the United States. Unwilling to export oil to China, talks between the United States and China break down."
    "2066 Summer Adding further insult to the Chinese-American relations, the first crude fusion cell is unveiled, one of the results of the Power Armor project. Devices designed for the fusion cell begin to be manufactured. Incorporating fusion power into the general US infrastructure begins, but the process is too slow to supply power to the regions that need it. Nearly thirteen years later, few sections of the United States were supplied with fusion power."
  3. Mr. Handy design document
  4. Arcade Gannon: "Nuclear waste disposal. Pre-War, people figured there was so much desert in Nevada, you might as well turn it into a big dumping ground. People didn't like it, but they weren't about to give up easy access to power, not with all of the petroleum drying up."
    (Arcade Gannon's dialogue)
  5. DcSmitty.msg, Fallout Bible 0 timeline, NcTRay.msg, Fuel Cell Controller & Fuel Cell Regulator description, GCSKEETR.MSG
  6. Fallout intro, NcTRay.msg
  7. Fallout intro
  8. The Vault Dweller: "{116}{}{What's a steam truck?}"
    Ghoul refugee: "{115}{}{The super mutants attacked. We were slaughtered. They had guns and bombs, even some steam trucks. They killed my friends. The mutants just butchered us.}"
    The Vault Dweller: "{113}{}{Yes, and now I want to know what happened here.}"
    Ghoul refugee: "{114}{}{The super mutants attacked. We were slaughtered. They had guns and bombs, even some steam trucks. They killed my friends. The mutants just butchered us, like you're probably gonna do to me.}"
    (GHREFUGE.MSG)
  9. Fallout Bible 6 Questions galore: "6. Last update, you said there were 1/200 cars/people ration in the NCR. If there were so many working cars in NCR, where were they?"
    "They're there. It's game logic. You don't see them for the same reason NCR is only three maps, only has 1 councilor/senator, and only about 40-50 people in its city limits. That's why the Chop Shop in Reno exists, why the bum outside of NCR offers to watch a car for you before you show up in one, and a reason that NCR built a garage in Shady Sands."
    "So to explain "game logic" in this instance, there's nothing precious about building a car of your own if you can steal one – or if somebody else in town has one. Or in the words of one designer (me), "there's no good reason why a PC would want to undertake a fucking huge Fed Ex quest to rebuild one if they can jack one from the locals." The last part is especially true considering town-wide mass murder is possible in both Fallout 1 and 2."
    "And before you get the image of tanks and jeeps flying around everywhere with heavy machine guns mounted on the back, most of that junk is old tractors and crap like taxis, old buses, snowplows, and even old construction equipment. It's possible that mysterious old steam-truck mentioned in the bowels of the F1 data archive is still lumbering around somewhere. The caravan houses of the Hub, in particular, around the time in Fallout 2, have been looking to further its trade influence, and new vehicles (and types of transport, such as trains, boats, or barges) have been eagerly sought after for carrying large amounts of trade goods vast distances. Good ol' human greed will move mountains. Or at least rebuild things that can. Once they learn of the Enclave's presence in the North, they are likely to have huge bounties promised for vertibird plans - or better, a working vertibird.
    "One from Steel Knight..."
  10. CMR
  11. Monorail (Fallout: New Vegas)
  12. Vault Dweller's Survival Guide p.5-17: "Combat Armor is advanced personal armor for the 22nd century police officer or military grunt. This is about the best armor a Vault Dweller is likely to see in their lifetime. Combat Armor is highly effective against most types of damage, is light weight (for it’s protective value), and is, unfortunately, not available without a special permit. Interested parties should contact the BADTFL office near them."
  13. Power armor specs
  14. Skynet
  15. The prevalence of the H&K G11/G11E, light support weapon, P90, and the entire AR-15 platform, such as the M16A1, the service rifle, and the marksman and assault carbines.
  16. CZ-53 Personal Minigun, Vindicator Minigun
  17. The Chosen One: "{766}{}{Definitely sounds like lasers. Do you know how the Salvatores power their laser pistols? Do they employ battery packs, fusion cells, or cabled power systems of any kind?}"
    (NcJules.msg)
  18. The Chosen One: "{711}{}{What kind of "firepower" do the Salvatores have?}"
    Jules: "{725}{}{Pistols…'cept they shoot LIGHT. Now, Reno's a city o' lights, but the light THOSE pistols shine can cut a man in two... *swuppp*... (Jules makes slicing motion.) Makes a clean burn 'tween the two halves, it does.}"
    The Chosen One: "{726}{}{They shoot light? Do they call the pistols 'laser pistols?'}"
    Jules: "{735}{}{Well, uh, I don't really know… I ain't sure what you're talking about. But take my word for it: don't go asking the Salvatores about those pistols. They have this twitchy habit a killing people who're curious.}"
    The Chosen One: "{736}{}{By 'laser pistols,' Jules, I mean pistols that emit beams of coherent light. A beam of sufficient wattage - say, several megawatts - could do considerable damage if focused on a target for a few seconds, producing the effect you've described.}"
    (NcJules.msg)
  19. Chris Taylor interview for Vault13.net
  20. M72 Gauss rifle, PPK12 Gauss Pistol
  21. Microwave emitter
  22. Mesmetron
  23. The Lone Wanderer: "Do you think you can make use of that stuff you picked up in the Cryo Labs?"
    Elliot Tercorien: "Yeah, I think so. Before I was shipped out to Anchorage, I was trained in cryoscience. We were hoping to apply that to medicine. The compounds we used weren't that different from this cryogenic liquid. I'm pretty sure I can make us some improvised weapons from it. I'm thinking something along the lines of cryo grenades and cryo mines... I don't know yet. Check back with me in about an hour and I'll see what I can do."
    (Elliot Tercorien's dialogue)
  24. VCDRTROY.MSG
  25. BOSLORI.MSG, VCANDY.MSG, Fcdrfung.msg
  26. QITURTRM.MSG: "{102}{}{You see a DataPlex 2000 SmarTerminal, with a full 64k of RAM, it's the very latest in computer technology - too bad it's not working right now.}"
    "{103}{}{You see a DataPlex 2000 SmarTerminal, with a full 64k of RAM, it's the very latest in computer technology.}"
  27. Brian Virgil: "Now, the Relay causes some pretty heavy interference all across the EM spectrum. You've got a radio on that Pip-Boy, right? When you get to the ruins, tune it to the lower end of the band and listen in. You'll be able to hear the interference."
    (Brian Virgil's dialogue)
  28. Brian Virgil: "Every Courser has special hardware that gives them a direct connection to the Relay in the Institute. It's embedded in a chip in their heads. You need that chip. But to get it, you'll have to find a Courser."
    (Brian Virgil's dialogue)