History of Star Trek: Over Half A Century

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Celebration

Last year many celebrated the influence Star Trek has had on our lives:

  • Twitter has lots of tweets celebrating
  • SyFy Channel is celebrating Star Trek Day by offering a tutorial on how to do the Vulcan Salute.
  • Seattle’s EMP Museum has a major new exhibit with original sets, props, uniforms, communicator, phaser and tricorder
  • Smithsonian Institution’s Air & Space Museum in Washington D.C. has spent 4 months again refurbishing the original 11-foot filming model of the USS Enterprise
  • History Channel has a show on “Building Star Trek”
  • Gizmodo is talking about the anniversary
  • USA Today is covering the celebration
  • NASA talks about the science
  • The Telegraph discusses the celebration
  • Facebook is celebrating with Trek “like” buttons.
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The Beginning

I can remember the first episode like it was yesterday, though it was half a century ago now. In the summer of 1966, there was a preview of a coming new Fall TV series with

The Pilots

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The Original Series

The network had said to Gene Roddenberry following the first pilot, “Get rid of the woman and the guy with the pointed ears.” So Roddenberry married the woman, Majel Barrett, and kept the guy with the pointed ears. Leonard Nimoy was fond of saying that he “would not have had it the other way around.” The woman dyed her hair blond and waited in Gene’s reception office so that when he walked past her even he didn’t recognize her. They figured if he didn’t recognize her, NBC wouldn’t. She became Nurse Christine Chapel. The guy with the pointed ears became less emotional, more logical, and Vulcan green rather than Martian red (the red wouldn’t photograph correctly.)

The USS Enterprise

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Its Continuing Mission

The show remained incredibly popular in syndication on 150 American and over 60 international TV stations. Nineteen years later it spawned another TV series, “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Then there was “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” later “Star Trek: Voyager” and eventually a kind of prequel, “Enterprise.” There was even an animated Saturday morning series that ran from 1973–74 with the voices of some of the original actors.

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The Star Trek Conventions

The first major Star Trek Convention was in New York in January of 1972. At my first Star Trek Convention in Oakland in August of 1976 I had a long conversation with George Takei (Sulu) who was very friendly and outgoing. I learned that he had spent his first 2 years of college in a Berkeley dorm that I had once stayed in. He had done his lower division studies in architecture there at Cal, then transferred to UCLA to finish in theater. He was happy to discuss almost any subject.

The Films

Now don’t let anyone tell you Star Trek is a cult, that is not true at all. It’s more like a religion.

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The Reboot

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Star Trek’s Future

The principal stars of the first three “reboot” movies have extended their original 3-movie contracts and will do a fourth movie. Other stars are expected to follow suit. Stay tuned for the fourth movie in the reboot series.

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Legacy

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Parodies

The film Galaxy Quest is a send up of the world of Star Trek and Trekkies. This weekend the new TV series The Orville premiers, created by and starring Trek-fan Seth MacFarlane.

Silicon Valley Tech Exec: Cloud, Data Storage, Automation. Author of fascinating articles about history, tech trends, andpop culture. Blog: http://billpetro.com

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