16 Star Wars tech facts you almost certainly should know

From a Porsche to a potato

Star Wars' impact on the world of film cannot be ignored, but George Lucas' iconic sci-fi series has also been a significant player in the world of tech since 1977.

From sound design to special FX, via computer games and CGI and from laser disc through to holograms, Star Wars has always been close to techradar's heart.

So, with Star Wars VII nearly here, we've combed through our archives and put together an alternative list of Star Wars facts to fascinate and enthrall you like C3PO to an ewok.

And while you're here, remember to check out our Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailers, news and rumors

We've got a good feeling about this.

1. BB-8 was actually a whole army of droids

From the moment the first Force Awakens trailer was released, BB-8 began to steal the hearts of Star Wars fans. Starting life as a back-of-a-napkin sketch from director J. J. Abrams, the little rolling droid eventually became an army of real-life droids, each with a different purpose.

Only a quarter of BB-8's onscreen shots were digitally created - the rest were made using a combination of high-tech props and puppetry. While puppets were used for those shots where BB-8 showed off her quirky personality, the most tech-heavy BB was the one that would actually roll around the set remotely.

While her full design is a closely-guarded secret, the Sphero BB-8 toy tells us a lot about how the full size droid probably worked. With a combination of gyroscopes and motors propelling her, the opposing forces of magnets allow BB-8's head to stay bobbing along up top without creating too much friction against the rolling body.  

2. Star Wars special effects guru Dennis Muren is backing a holographic version of Star Wars

Dennis Muren not a hologram

Dennis Muren - not a hologram

Muren is often asked about the inevitable re-release of Star Wars on every single new format, but he told techradar that he was kinda okay with all of that adding: "If there is a way in the future to do a hologram version [of Star Wars] and the fans want it then it should be done."

3. Sebulba's pod racer uses the sound of a Ferrari, and Anakin plumped for a Porsche

Star Wars sound mixing fascinating

Star Wars sound mixing - fascinating

The sound design for Star Wars has been a source of fascination for years – most Star Wars fans could tell you that the lightsaber noise is a mixture of a TV cathode ray tube hum and film projector hum, for instance. But did you know that for the pod races, nasty Sebulba was all Italian sports icon but Anakin's self-built offering was a bit more Bavarian hot rod?

4. It was seven long years before you could buy yourself Star Wars on VHS

Star Wars we played our VHS copy so much it broke

These days you can practically buy yourself a copy of the film before it hits the big screen, but there was a time when you had to be little more patient. The rental version of Star Wars appeared in 1982, but it was apparently a couple of years down the line before you could spend your hours rewinding the R2D2 Jawa bit until you could perfectly mimic the noise he makes when he's hit by the stunner.

5. The Xbox 360 was redesigned as R2D2 to launch Kinect Star Wars

C3PO Bling R2D2 win

C3PO Bling - R2D2 win

The game might have been a bit, well, Jar Jar, but when we're looking back at the greatest console designs of all time there might well be a place for this droidified bit of kit – we're not so convinced by the C3PO blingpad however.

6. Darth Vader selfie launched the official Instagram account

the rear camera is weak in this one

We wanted to roll our eyes, but we secretly loved it.

7. Seven formats and counting

Survivor of both the Clone and Format wars

Survivor of both the Clone and Format wars

By our reckoning, even without the remasterings and generally tinkered-with editions, Star Wars has managed to get itself onto at least seven different home entertainment formats: VHS, Betamax, Laser Disc, V2000, DVD, digital and Blu-ray. 3D Blu-ray and UHD is yet to make an appearance – but we might just wait for Muren's Holographic version for now. Don't even get us started on streaming…