Star Trek: Season 2, Episode 24

The Ultimate Computer (8 Mar. 1968)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
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Kirk and a sub-skeleton crew are ordered to test out an advanced artificially intelligent control system that could potentially render them all redundant.


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Episode complete credited cast:
Scott / M-5 / Starbase Officer
Sean Morgan ...
Barry Russo ...


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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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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?


The Daystrom Institute, mentioned prominently in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993), and Star Trek: Voyager (1995), is named for Dr. Richard Daystrom, the guest character in this episode. See more »


Kirk gets the M-5 to commit suicide by asking what is the penalty for murder. However, in "The Menagerie, Part I," it's established that the death penalty has been abolished for all crimes with the exception of visiting Talos IV. See more »


Mr. Spock: Captain, the computer does not judge. It makes logical selections.
[on Kirk's comment that the difference in recommendation from M-5 was only a matter of judgment]
See more »


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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