The story describes a world in which most of the human population has lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth. Each individual now lives in isolation below ground in a standard ‘cell’, with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent, global Machine. Travel is permitted but unpopular and rarely necessary. Communication is made via a kind of instant messaging/video conferencing machine called the speaking apparatus, with which people conduct their only activity, the sharing of ideas and knowledge.
Sounds familiar? Remember: The story was originally published in 1909!
In 1966 the BBC aired a television adaptation (see above) as the first episode of the second season of the science fiction series ‘↑Out of the Unknown.’ The ↑episodes listing shows that for the series stories by an impressive roster of New Wave Science Fiction authors were adapted.