I noticed, while reading up on the Hogwarts Express, that the engine ran on steam originally, but by 1990 was running fully on magic. While steam is an older technology, it's still technology and it's interesting even something as simple as steam power was phased out by magickers.

The International Statute of Secrecy was signed in the 1690s, which is after the early steam-driven piston engines, but before steam engines were used for trains and the type of engine used for the Hogwarts Express would not have existed until the mid to late 1800s (at least -- I'm not an expert) and it would not have been out of place in the 1930s, when the Hogwarts Express was made. This indicates that, on some level, the magickers must have been keeping up with some level of technology.

Other than this, we see almost no signs of the use of science or technology.

Did the magical community always shun any technology, or did they use it up until the International Statute of Secrecy, or was there some other point where magic started diverging from technology?

  • 2
    Deus Ex Steam Engine :) Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 7:35
  • 3
    I dunno, @DVK. Kinda sounds like you're blowin' hot air.
    – Tango
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 7:38
  • @DVK Don't you mean Deus Ex Magicka?
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 15:19
  • @Kevin - There was no spell to summon a God. I don't think even Hermione knew of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 15:25
  • @DVK: Hermione was muggle born, so it's possible she heard of Lovecraft. My understanding was that very line was Plan B if Harry didn't kill Voldemort. (They figured if Plan A didn't work, why bother with a lesser evil.)
    – Tango
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 15:36

3 Answers 3


I don't think wizards needed much muggle technology at any point in history. Whatever technology they did adopt, it might have been for practical effects only, at least most of the time.

For example, the train provided a means of transport for the whole lot of students, all at the same time. Before that, the logistics could have been quite complex. I guess that parents apparated their kids to Hogsmeade, but I'm not sure this includes luggage. Dumbledore "sent" Harry's luggage to the Burrow somehow, but Dumbledore was more powerful than usual. Another theory: portkeys following a strict schedule, so no two families would appear at the same time in the same spot. Whatever the case, the train was an excellent opportunity to avoid this messy setting, and, it must be said, an opportunity for kids and teachers traveling on the train to enjoy a few hours of the beautiful English countryside landscape.

As for electricity, they don't really need it because they don't use stuff that runs on it. They have wands for light (and apparently, an unlimited number of almost-everlasting candles), and they can also lit fires without matches (so they wouldn't need electric light, heating systems, etc.). Apart from that, I can't think of any other thing they would use. Telephones or e-mail would be useful, but:

  • They already have effective means of communication (even instantaneous).
  • Their society is smaller than muggle society, so adoption of technology would be too much of an effort for so small a population.
  • How do you align wizard political/economical system with the muggle system? I mean, if you want to use telephones, you have to have a contract and some exchange of muggle money.

Here is, I believe, the strongest argument for wizards to avoid muggle technology. I think anybody who took Muggle Studies seriously realized that they were far better off without all the complications of a society so dependant on companies that provided products and services. Just imagine telling the Goblins they'd have to do regular business with their muggle counterparts (not to mention telling the muggle bankers).


Even when Harry's in the Muggle world there's no mention of recent technology - mobile phones, computers, etc. There's no specific mention of this, but I wonder if J.K.Rowling had a similar idea to Jim Butcher in the Dresden Files, where sophisticated technology doesn't work around magic users.

Of course, the first Harry Potter novel was published before the first Dresden file novel so there's no suggestion here that she copied the idea!

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    You may be right about mobile phones, but it's mentioned several times in the books that Dudley owns a computer.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 5:53
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    And Harry, in a letter to Sirius, mentions that Dudley can't play Mega-Mutilation Part Three on his PlayStation, which is "a sort of computer". So, even Sirius would have some understanding about what a computer is. Oh, and Vernon's company makes drills, which is a form of technology wizards appear not to have.
    – Janoma
    Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 12:16
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    I believe the first Harry Potter was set in the early-mid '90s. This would be before the great proliferation of mobile phones, and still a little bit ahead of the Internet boom.
    – Iszi
    Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 23:47
  • Hermione says time and time again that technology doesn't work in or around Hogwarts. I believe the exact line from GoF is "Electricity, bugging, substitutes that muggles use for magic don't work around Hogwarts, there's too much magic in the air." Or something to that effect.
    – user14750
    Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 2:20

It is not that the people of the magical community were lagging behind in technology and science. It is just that they don't need it. There is the answer- The magical people, they have magical powers, and they use magic for almost everything. Necessity is the mother of all inventions. The muggles don't have magical powers, and hence science and technology are quite essential for them. But the magical people don't need them all, they use magic.

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    But they do use technology, just the type that we used like centuries ago..
    – Möoz
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 2:44

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