Last modified on 18 June 2014, at 06:56

tractor beam



Possibly a shortening of attractor beam; note however the broader meaning of tractor (machinery that pulls something). Might have been coined by E. E. "Doc" Smith in 1931.


tractor beam (plural tractor beams)

  1. (science fiction) device used to attract other objects.
    • 1931 August, E. E. "Doc" Smith, “Spacehounds of IPC”, Amazing Stories, volume 6, number 5: 
      Through it Stevens saw with satisfaction that the Forlorn Hope was not being abandoned; in the grip of powerful tractor beams, every fragment of the wreckage was following close behind them in their flight through space.
    • 1945 June, Murray Leinster, “The Ethical Equations”, Astounding Science Fiction, volume 35, number 4, page 122: 
      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.
    • 1977, George Lucas, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope:
      Han Solo: "We're caught in a tractor beam! It's pulling us in!"