Star Trek: The Ultimate Computer

Work Title: Star Trek: The Ultimate Computer
Medium: TV Episode
Episode Title: The Ultimate Computer
Year: 1968
Writer(s): Gene Roddenberry
"Original" Writer: Yes Writer(s): Laurence N. Wolfe
"Original" Writer: Yes Writer(s): D.C. Fontana
"Original" Writer: Yes Own work?: No


from Kirk and a sub-skeleton crew are ordered to test out an advanced artificially intelligent control system that could potentially render them all redundant.

  • Self-Written?:
  • Source Name: IMDB
  • Source URL:

Era/Year of Portrayal: distant_future

Distinctive characteristics of the world in portrayal:

Stardate 4729.4 - space travel is common.


  • Name of portrayed presence-evoking technology: M5 Multitronic System
  • Description of the technology: The M5 Computer is an advanced computer system designed to run a space ship with a limited crew of about 20 people. It was designed to be completely logical, yet was also given the personality of its creator. It is embedded into the systems of the ship, and is only mobile as the ship is mobile. It speaks with a male voice and users may ask it questions by speaking into a receivor area. It becomes controlling and dominating.
  • Nature of task or activity: Daily activities aboard a starship - battle manuevers.
  • Performance of the Technology: It works well at first, but then becomes to controlling and war hungry.
  • Description of creator(s): Dr. Richard Daystrom, black, 40s or 50s. An engineer regarded as a genius, he won the Nobel Prize at age 24. mentally unstable .
  • Major goal(s) of creator(s): to advance science, help his reputation.
  • Description of users of technology: Anyone aboard the starship - mostly white, middle aged men. One black woman, and one black man, the creator. One Vulcan.
  • Type(s) of presence experience in the portrayal: social_presence
  • Description of presence experience: At first, the people on the ship feel useless - the M5 can run it better than the people. Then, once the M5 is out of control, they must figure out how to destroy it. The experence is frightening, frustrating, and anger inducing.
  • User awareness of technology during experience: yes.
  • Valence of experience: unpleasant
  • Specific responses: involvement, intense parasocial relationships, fear, anger, helplessness
Long-term consequences:

Kirk is able to convince the M5 to destroy itself through logic - the Enterprise continues to be commanded by Kirk.


A clear precursor or homage to 2001: A Space Oddyssey - the same plot.

Coder name: Amanda Scheiner
Coder email:
Coder affiliation: Temple University