Robert Comsol wrote:
"One, is that it shouldn't be omitted that the reason why Jefferies picked 1701 wasn't for meaning, it was rather because '1' '7' and '0' are easily identifiable from a distance. As others have indicated, the 17th class, model 01 thing was after-the-fact."
I'm not aware there is any
proof for the "after-the-fact" theory. On the contrary, the genuine production sketch from the production period is a clear hint that the Enterprise
was indeed the "first bird", the "first in the series"
I believe the quote in the Star Trek Sketchbook
by Jefferies specifically states this story, along with (paraphrasing) "...later
I decided the Enterprise
design was the 17th cruiser design, 1st production model." I can dig the book up and check it later.
To be clear, I'm not saying that the '17th, 1st' rationalization coming later invalidates it. I'm merely saying that if we're going to acknowledge the real-world author's intent for something, we should acknowledge the full story.