Universal basic income is not a new idea. It was way back in 1795 that Thomas Paine, an American revolutionary, first talked about the citizen's dividend. The idea was to pay all US citizens a regular payment as compensation for "loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property".
This ground breaking idea lay fairly dormant for a hundred years until the beginning of the 20th Century. Since then the idea has come in and out of fashion in three times, each time getting closer to becoming a political reality.