Kirk is none too impressed when he's told that the Enterprise is to compete in simulated war games but under the control of a new computer. The M-5 computer is the latest invention of the brilliant Dr. Richard Daystrom, who is confidant that his unit can not only take control of the starship but do a better job than humans can. In its first simulated encounter, the Enterprise under M-5's control easily defeats two other starships. Soon, however, it begins to act independently of its human masters, tapping directly into the warp engines for its power and erecting a force field to protect itself. Daystrom has little interest in disconnecting the M-5 and treats it more like an errant child than a machine. For Kirk and the few crew members still aboard, it becomes a matter of life and death when Starfleet Command orders the Enterprise destroyed. Written by
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
As Kirk, Spock and McCoy ride the turbolift to engineering, Spock observes that it is unfortunate no computer can replace a starship surgeon. As they exit the turbolift, McCoy replies "Very funny" but his mouth is not moving. See more
Captain James T. Kirk
Am I afraid of losing command to a computer? Daystrom was right. I can do a lot of other things. Am I afraid of losing the prestige and the power that goes with being a starship captain? Is that why I'm fighting it? Am I that petty?
Jim, if you have the awareness to ask yourself that question, you don't need me to answer it for you. Why don't you ask James T. Kirk? He's a pretty honest guy.