Star Trek (1966–1969)
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The Ultimate Computer 

Kirk and a sub-skeleton crew are ordered to test out an advanced artificially intelligent control system - the M-5 Multitronic system, which could potentially render them all redundant. Star fleet is very optimistic, but, Kirk fears - even in a testing situation - removing humans from the equation is a very dangerous position to be left in. A position of life or death.


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Episode complete credited cast:
Sean Morgan ...


Captain Kirk replies to an urgent (yet brief) message from Commodore Enright, which only tells him to report to the nearest space station. Once there, most of the crew is removed - held in a security area, leaving only a minimal skeleton crew on-board. Commodore Bob Wesley arrives, and informs the captain he's the unwitting 'fox in the hunt;' of simulated war games to be played. The purpose? To put the so far only-rumoured-to-exist M-5 Multitronic unit - through its paces. The M-5 computer is the latest invention of the brilliant Dr. Richard Daystrom, creator of the Duotronic computer systems, which power Enterprise, and many other high-end systems. Daystrom is confidant his unit can not only take control of the starship, but do a better job than humans can. At first, the Enterprise under M-5's control easily defeats two other starships, but, quickly begins to act independently of its human masters, Daystrom has little interest in disconnecting the M-5 and treats it more like an ... Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

8 March 1968 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


In his 1999 essay "Welcome Aboard the Enterprise," science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer writes, "...the ship's computers, as seen in "The Ultimate Computer," were designed by a Nobel-prize-winning black cyberneticist, played with equal dignity by William Marshall. During the era of Martin Luther King and the Watts Riots, it was a powerful, important statement to have the white captain of the Enterprise deferring to black people; as Marshall observed thirty years later, the single most significant thing about his guest-starring role was that he, an African-American, was referred to as "Sir" throughout the episode." See more »


After Kirk, Spock, and McCoy depart the turbolift to Engineering, McCoy says "If it could, they wouldn't have to replace me, I'd resign..." McCoy's lips do not match "If it could" See more »


Captain James T. Kirk: The M-5 must be destroyed.
Dr. Richard Daystrom: [distressed] Destroyed, Kirk? No. We're invincible. Look what we've done: your mighty starships - four toys to be crushed as we choose!
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Referenced in Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Offspring (1990) See more »

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User Reviews

Vindication in the future
15 March 2014 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

William Marshall's character of Dr. Richard Daystrom a future expert in cybernetics has been completely vindicated in even more future episodes in the Star Trek franchise. In Star Trek The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine and Voyager there are references to the Daystrom Institute that has been founded on earth. It's fully explained in this story that Daystrom is a great man of science and he must have been to have his work and reputation recover from the folly of this particular experiment.

The Enterprise has been reduced to a skeleton crew of 19 including the cast members and on board is William Marshall who has installed his brand new state of the art M5 super computer which will run the ship with only a skeleton staff needed for maintenance.

Need I say that things go horribly wrong as the computer starts making command decision. It also has developed a most human instinct for its own survival.

All this is most distressing for Marshall who sees the M5 as the crowning achievement in an illustrious scientific career. The machine is like a child to him and he behaves as a parent.

I won't go into what happens, but the Enterprise does run amuck during battlefield maneuvers and is saved because of the instinct and humanity of another of the Starship captains.

A really well done Star Trek about humanity and humans. No machine can replace us.

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