I was reading about Galaxy Express 999 (1978), and I saw this manga featured the idea of human transfer of consciouness into an artificial body for eternal life similar to Altered Carbon or with some similarities to Ghost in the Shell. I assume this story isnt the first one to feature that idea but it is the first one I've heard of. My question is, which was the first sci-fi story to feature human transfer of consciouness into an artificial body for eternal life?

  • 2
    I don't know if this counts, but there's a 1931 story about a guy who achieves immortality by having his brfain transferred to an artificial body.
    – user14111
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 17:53
  • I suppose it counts, how is it called? It is worth a reply, even if it isnt sure it is the first one
    – Pablo
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 18:05
  • 1
    I was thinking of "The Jameson Satellite" which is mentioned in M. A. Golding's answer.
    – user14111
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 18:49

5 Answers 5


Introduced in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and back story filled in by The Tin Woodsman of Oz, the Nick Chopper, the Tin Woodsman and his counterpart, Captain Fyter, had immortal (if rust-prone) metal bodies with their original consciousness preserved (their original meat parts, still alive because nothing could die in Oz, were glued together into a misshapen human form known as ChopFyt).

The first Oz book (which contained enough of Chopper's story to show the transformation that lodged his consciousness in the metal form) was published on May 17, 1900.

  • The OP asked for transfer of CONSCIOUSNESS not transfer of brain. That is why I said "The Jameson Satellite" comes close but isn't an exact match. Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 0:56
  • ChopFyt had a brain (though it didn't work very well). I took that to mean even the original brains were replaced with metal.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Jun 24, 2018 at 12:28

People being granted immortality in non-human forms is a recurring theme in Greek Mythology

Upon Heracles' death Zeus brings him up to Olympus and makes him a god.

Narsissus pines away and is transformed into a Narsissus flower.

Baucis and Philemon grow old together, and upon their deaths are transformed into an oak and a linden tree intertwined.

You could probably debate how much these qualify as "consciousness transfers", since trees are not particularly known for their thinking. But the seeds of the concept are there.

And it wouldn't surprise me if there are other myths that do include a deliberate body modification to give someone a conscious immortal body.

  • In almost every case here, the consciousness isn't transferred from one body to another; the original body is transformed into a new body, with the consciousness otherwise staying put.
    – chepner
    Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 16:15

According to the Wikipedia article, Mind uploading in fiction, there are two plausible candidates given as the earliest example, depending on whether transfer to biological or artificial "brains" is required:

  • The Altered Ego by Jerry Sohl (1954) invovles "brain records" taken as backups that can be placed into either a restored or a new brain after the original's death.

  • The Tunnel Under the World by Frederick Pohl (1955) involves electronic scans of brains being uploaded into computers and robots.

  • Finally an answer that cites sources and focus on the actual mind upload instead of physically moving the brain.
    – pipe
    Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 13:44

Two early examples that come rather close are:

  1. Neil R. Jones's "The Jameson Satellite" Amazing Stories July 1931 in which super advanced aliens revived the long dead brain of Professor Jameson and put it into a robot body.

  2. E.E. Smith in The Skylark of Valeron Astounding stories (August 1934 to february 1935) had the spaceship Skylark of Valeron equipped with a super computer of almost human intelligence. Richard Seaton had a mind reading helmet he used to control the computer and the ship. When he captured his arch enemy Dusquesne he ripped the mind reading helmet off of his head lest his desire to kill Dusquesne be turned into action by the computer. Reading that scene I instantly thought that similar technology could be used to copy a person's memories into a sufficiently advanced computer so that their copy could live on in the computer.

I assume that some readers had the same thoughts back in 1935 and thus there could have been stories featuring memory upload (or is it download?) to computers as early as 1935.

The earliest movie I remember with transferring or copying memory to computers or robots is The Creation of the Humanoids (1962), which suggests that written science fiction probably had memory copying long before 1962.

The Star Trek episode "What Are little Girls Made Of?" October 20, 1966, also had memory transfer to robots.

According to the Technovelgy.com website, Lord of Light (1967) by Roger Zelazny is the first story to have scientific reincarnation, transferring memories to a new biological body and brain. Which is somewhat similar to transferring memories to a new cybernetic body and brain.


But so far I haven't located any reference to the first written story with memory transfer to a computer or robot.

  • I think Arthur C Clarke used this idea in the book 2001 A Space Odyssey?
    – user66716
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 18:14
  • I'm blanking on the name of a story that I thought was EE Smith (but definetly from around that era) where the explorers did transfer their consciousness into robot bodies (that absorbed UV energy from the sun - so there was an excuse for a plot device for these people to run around naked). When these explorers returned to Earth they faked needing to wear space suits to contain the radiation their new bodies were emitting.
    – Peter M
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 19:08

One could argue that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was the first example of transplanting a brain from an old body to a "recycled" one. Published in 1818.

  • 4
    Brain, yes -- but Adam didn't remember being human before his "birth" from Frankenstein's vat of fluid.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 18:35
  • 1
    The OP asked for transfer of CONSCIOUSNESS not transfer of brain. Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 0:55

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