In-Universe Explanation for TOS Retro Tech

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by BMariner, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Blinking lights can tell you lots of stuff, or have people not looked at their cable modems and wifi routers lately?

    :)
     
  2. BMariner

    BMariner Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I apologize if you're kidding and I'm just not catching it. The blinking lights on my cable modem tell me if I've got a connection and if my wifi is on. They do not tell me the effective reach of my wifi, my upload speed, how many and what types of devices are connecting, what URLs are being visited via my network and by which devices, or my IP address. Sulu's blinking lights tell him a whole lot more than mine tell me!
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2014
  3. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    TOS wasn't so much hampered by imagination as it was by budget, resources and time. The transporter is the prime example of coming up with a more affordable solution to not having to land the entire ship, but also to get the characters into the story faster.

    The show's designers were also hampered by their limits of perspective and extrapolation. There were developments in the years to decades to come they simply could not foresee. And this is true for any SF production be it film or television. LCD and LED readouts were still a few years in the future for the general public. Interactive displays (such as tablets and smartphones) were decades in the future. There was probably very little in existence at the time to give anyone but a genuine visionary any idea of what was to come. Mind you they did foresee flatscreen displays even if they figured it was still a version of the CRT. But in "Requiem For Methuselah" they did have an actual thin flatscreen display not far removed from what we might see commercially in the next few years.

    TOS was smart in not over explaining their tech and hardware. To some extent that allowed it to age more gracefully since new rationalizations could be applied without really contradicting how we saw the tech used. I do find it amusing that TOS is credited with imagining the cellphone, but it's an inaccurate representation because the TOS communicator is definitely not a cellphone. A cellphone needs a supporting network infrastructure to work while a communicator is an independently operating transmitter/receiver (and possibly translator) with a range in tens of thousands of miles.

    There's also the fact that I don't assume TOS reality is ours and that was illustrated right within the series itself given historical inconsistencies with our own history.
     
  4. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Then look at your mobile phone where the number of little bars tell you the signal strength. The fact is that there are lots of ways to represent information, and while little square indicator lights (many with labels we can't read on TV) may not be the best for all purposes, neither are they wholly inefficient or useless for some tasks.
     
  5. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In 50 years from now we're probably going to laugh at the primitive touch screens.
     
  6. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^^^The "pictures under glass" paradigm.
     
  7. Push The Button

    Push The Button Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The bridge of JJ's Enterprise looks like an Apple Store. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
     
  8. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Much earlier, I'd say, already in "The Corbomite Maneuver".

    Flat screens were still tiny in "The Conscience of the King".

    Built into the wall in "Court-Martial" where we also saw a very large one (former main viewscreen of "pilot" Enterprise).

    Later seasons featured flat screens in the transporter room in a couple of episodes.

    Please notice that the former main viewscreen had an aspect ratio of 16:9. WOW! (and there we have an original TOS scene in its original and untrimmed 16:9 ratio :lol:).

    Bob
     
  9. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    There were a lot of Flatscreens in TOS, but most of them could have been rationalized as CRTs of varying size. But there were occasional examples of very thin flat displays.
     
  10. BMariner

    BMariner Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Agreed.

    Yeah, saying Trek inspired the cell phone is a stretch, but comparing the modern smart phone with TOS's radio-based communicators isn't so much. Yes, supporting network is needed, but I can use the Voxer app on my (also radio-based) iPhone to communicate via voice, photo, or text with anybody on the planet with a connection to the Internet.

    I regularly use my phone to stream NASA mission audio from the ISS and read twitter feeds from the astronauts themselves. Further, ISS astronauts use services such as Skype to experiment and communicate with loved ones on their phones on earth. So while I'd agree that crediting Trek with the inspiration for the modern cell phone is a stretch, what we got isn't too different, functionally, than the tech those 60's props portrayed.


    Although Gene Roddenberry saw Trek as taking place in our universe/timeline/reality, facts as they played out make it a lot easier for me to believe otherwise.
     
  11. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    I find it harder to justify (when I feel the need to, which I usually don't because they're just stories) the complete visual change between TOS and TMP. Beyond the basic positions of stations, not a single control panel or readout was recognizable. It wasn't believable as an in-universe upgrade.
     
  12. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    A couple possibilities I see:

    -- The damage and destruction from WWIII was so severe that much of our civilization and technology got knocked back almost to a pre-industrial level, and had to essentially start over from the beginning. Obviously there were still some great advances in warp and transporter technology, but by the 23rd century our basic computer technology had only gotten back up to a 20th century level (with styling from the 1960s, of course). Either because of lack of resources or because the previous knowledge had been lost.

    -- Or alternatively, by the 23rd century technology had become SO advanced and impersonal and automated (with Minority Report-style interfaces everywhere, computer chips in people's skulls, and robots doing all the work) that there was ultimately a societal backlash against it, which resulted in the return to a simpler and more analog technology by the time of TOS.

    Of course the catch there is we never hear anyone reference such an event in any of the Treks. But hey, it's the best I got. :p
     
  13. MGagen

    MGagen Captain Captain

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    DavidJames is on it: Don't rule out a declension of technology after the Eugenics Wars / WWIII. Some tech is way ahead of today, some tech is just catching up.

    This is a useful method when setting a story in a far future without having the environment be so alien that folks can't relate to it.

    On another note, I've always liked to visualize many of the various buttons and blinkies as having a narrow band holgraphic effect visible only to the operator immediately in front of it. Holographic labels that float above each button and refresh as the panel is reconfigured for various functions. Sulu sees things a camera off to the side can't see. It also gives a reason to the black console surfaces -- luminous type would read more easily if projected over a black background. Unlike the JJPrise, the REAL Enterprise took ergonomics and eyestrain into account.

    M.
     
  14. Push The Button

    Push The Button Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I recall reading that Uhura's "bluetooth" earpiece in TMP was actually one of the ones used in TOS. If true, that would be the only piece of recognizable TOS hardware that survived the refit.

    It made me happy to see that the warp nacelles on Cochrane's Phoenix warp ship in First Contact were almost identical in appearance to those on the original Enterprise.

    I just remembered, the "pads" from the original transporter room were reused in the Enterprise-D's transporter, which I believe was itself a reuse of the refit Enterprise's transporter. So that makes six transporter pads and one earpiece.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2014
  15. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    ^I forgot about Uhura's earpiece! And I guess if you include the TMP-DE, one TOS-style shuttle is seen.
    That doesn't work unless you take TOS on it's own and ignore the rest of Trek - Enterprise NX-01 had early 2000's-level interface technology in the mid-22nd century. The Phoenix was up to contemporary levels too.
    Except for the horrible angle of the control desks, which was so the camera always had a nice view of the buttons but not to make using them comfortable or the desks at all useful.
     
  16. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    A "desk"? More consoles, right?

    TMP also features a sickbay prop which looks identical to a TOS one other than the color.
     
  17. JJTrek4ever!

    JJTrek4ever! Lieutenant Junior Grade

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    Are you are referring to the anabolic protoplaser that was retasked into a brain scanner that Chapel uses on Spock?
     
  18. shivkala

    shivkala Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I've always accepted this as my personal "head canon." Not only did it set technology back, but humanity, seeing how the pace of technological achievement outpaced common sense/morality/etc. resulted in humanity slowing progress down to allow us to catch up to culturally.

    And, personally, I do ignore Enterprise.

    First Contact established that Cochrane had to scrounge for parts. Its reasonable to assume that he found remaining contemporary technology and used it.
     
  19. MGagen

    MGagen Captain Captain

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    They aren't desks at all. They are control consoles. As such, they are angled to present the seated officer a clear view of all of the controls. And those controls are fanned out ergonomically within arm's reach. The overhead screens are angled down to provide the operator, as well as the captain on the lower level a clear view.

    The level of thought given the ergonomics of the bridge was unprecedented. Even the U.S. Navy came to have a look at what a lowly television set designer had created.

    The JJPrise, on the other hand, is a total fall back to the old "it's just science fiction -- put some blinky lights on it" school of design. Recessed lighting that shines directly into the eyes of whoever is sitting at the console -- just so the camera can pick up a cliché lens flare. Give me a break...

    M.
     
  20. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Having to have one's arms extended as they do to use those controls would not be comfortable over long periods. As awful as those spotlights on the new ship are, the perimeter consoles are at a much more comfortable level to work on.