I did not know how much I would appreciate this detailed exploration of Star Trek: TOS prop computers.

I’m amazed at the level of detail that went into analyzing the prop computers created over 50 years ago for the original Star Trek. Not only has this website collected screen shots of the various props, but some include diagrams indicating which practical buttons on the props activated which lights. (The same website has sections on reused set elements, changes in the depiction of Klingon foreheads, and more.)

Back in the 60’s and early 70’s the thought of having a portable desk-top computer was unthinkable. This made the computer props from Star Trek so intriguing and just plain cool. During the run of the original series there were several varieties of computer props that were used. There were many different models; the first appearing on-screen beginning in the very first filmed episode (and fittingly also in the very last episode).

Here we will document these props and their evolution during the run of the series. There were at least 7 different varieties of the computer props, 5 of which are investigated in detail in the following. For the purposes of this article we will label them “type 1”, “type 2”, etc. with variations of each type as “alpha”, “beta”, etc. depending on when they first appeared on screen (in filming order, not the order the episodes were aired on TV). —Ex Astris Scientia