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Variations of TOS Computers
by
Will

Type 1 - Type 2 - Type 3 - Type 4A - Type 4B - Type 5 - Type 6 - Type 7

 

Introduction

Back in the 60's and early 70's the thought of having a portable desk-top computer was unthinkable. This made the computer props from Star Trek so intriguing and just plain cool. During the run of the original series there were several varieties of computer props that were used. There were many different models; the first appearing on-screen beginning in the very first filmed episode (and fittingly also in the very last episode).

Here we will document these props and their evolution during the run of the series. There were at least 7 different varieties of the computer props, 5 of which are investigated in detail in the following. For the purposes of this article we will label them "type 1", "type 2", etc. with variations of each type as "alpha", "beta", etc. depending on when they first appeared on screen (in filming order, not the order the episodes were aired on TV).

 

Type 1 Computer

The first appearance of the type 1 computer with its characteristic console shape was in the briefing room scene during "The Corbomite Maneuver". This is probably the prop that got the most screen time because it was incorporated into the briefing room table. It is visible nearly every time a scene was filmed in the briefing room mostly because Spock generally operated it. There appears to have been only one type 1 computer made and it was a hero model (even though most of the time it is on-screen it is unlit). The type 1 is a blue-grey console with two large black back-lit panels. It has 5 toggle switches down the right side (4 red and one white in the center) and 4 colored rocker switches adjacent to them on the left (white, blue, yellow & red from left to right) near the bottom right side of the console. The five toggles each actually control one of 5 lights that illuminated the back-lit panels (3 on the upper portion and 2 on the lower portion).


Type 1 in TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver"

in the background

Type 1 computer controls

light groups associated with the single switches

When the toggle switch was flipped to the left it would light up one of 5 lights illuminating a section of the computer panel. Here is the break-down on the toggles in order from top to bottom:

1 controlled the light on the top right side.
2 controlled the light on the top center.
3 controlled the light on the top left side.
4 controlled the light on the bottom right.
5 controlled the light on the bottom left.
C (rocker switch) controlled the desk mounted intercom.

The rest of the bottom rocker switches appear to have no function seen in the series.


Type 1 in TOS: "Mudd's Women"

operated by Spock during interrogation

Type 1 in TOS: "The Alternative Factor"

the same function again

The type 1 saw virtually no modifications or changes during the entire run of the series. The first time we see a portion of it lighted was a scene from "Mudd's Women" when the bottom right section was lit. The first appearance of it fully lighted was the briefing room scene from "The Man Trap." In the episode "Court Martial" we see it in two different locations; in the briefing room and also in Kirks quarters on the star base. This is the ONLY time we see this unit outside of the briefing room. It got the most screen-time in all of its glory during the second season episode "Wolf in the Fold" where we get a close-up view of it completely lit up and in different configurations. Even though the type 1 computer appears slim it actually extends pretty far below the table top. This was to accommodate the lights in the lower panel. The top apparently could be removed (without the bulky lower section that appears to be connected to the briefing room table) and the upper bank of lights would function fine. The bulky bottom appears to be to accommodate the lights the illuminated the lower thin part.


Type 1 in TOS: "Space Seed"

showing the portion below the table top

Type 1 in TOS: "Operation - Annihilate!"

computer not plugged in

In some instances it appears the computer was simply not plugged in at all because of the position of the toggles which would have illuminated some section of the display.

This prop early in the series defined the power of the computer in a small compact unit.


Type 1 in TOS: "Wolf in the Fold"

nice close-up

Type 1 in TOS: "Court Martial"

Samuel T. Cogley was NOT a fan of the type 1.

The type 1 computer prop appeared in these episodes:

 

Type 2 Computer

The type 2 computer prop made its first appearance in the episode "Miri." This episode required a need to show that there were portable computing units and other instrumentation that could be transported down to the surface so this prop (along with a few others) was created to fulfill the need for that episode. It went on to appear in many episodes in all three seasons. There appears to be only one unit made which was a hero model.

The type 2 computer prop is a blue-grey unit with an angled front and flat top. It has a black face with 10 buttons and 10 corresponding red lights on the angled part. The buttons are labeled from 0 to 9 from left to right. Each button depressed activates the corresponding red light above it. The top of this unit changed in the first season. Also on the top of this unit are two buttons and five lights; a grouping of 4 small lights and one bigger light to the right side. In the earliest episodes the bigger light on the right appears to be a simple hemisphere but it was transformed into a real light by the end of the first season. The button to the left is the same style button that we see on the captain's chair and at each of the intercom stations. It is a large white button with a black bezel. The button activates four lights on the top that have a rotating chaser pattern. The lights are red, yellow, green, and white. The other button is a small red button similar to the ones on the bottom of the type 4b computer prop (we will get into that later). This button activated a larger single flashing light on the right side of the top. Seen most notably in the episode "Operation - Annihilate!" when Kirk realizes that it's light that the creatures can't handle.


Type 2 in TOS: "Miri"

established here as biocomputer

Type 2 in TOS: "Operation - Annihilate!"

with new big white light

This prop probably is most infamous for the scene in the captain's quarters during the episode "Tomorrow is Yesterday" when it became too affectionate towards Kirk.


Type 2 in TOS: "Tomorrow is Yesterday"

"Computed, dear."

Type 2 in TOS: "Devil in the Dark"

on Janus VI, showing the side opening

During the second season it was mostly seen in McCoy's lab. It was also prominent in the episode "The Omega Glory" along with several other computer props.


Type 2 in TOS: "The Changeling"

used by Spock

Type 2 in TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles"

used for medical analysis

The only other feature on the top is a tape slot on the right side. This usually had a red or yellow data tape in it. During the season 2 episode "The Omega Glory" we see McCoy put in a green tape. I believe this to be the only time we see the tape slot used.


Type 2 in TOS: "The Omega Glory"

with red tape

Type 2 in TOS: "The Omega Glory"

with Bones inserting the green tape

There is a curious rectangular hole on the right side end of this prop. Apparently the function is for Petri dishes to be slid into this area for analysis but is also used as data tape storage but this function is only seen in the one episode "Paradise Syndrome". We see the prop in a few more third season episodes and it actually makes its last appearance in the final episode "Turnabout Intruder".


Type 2 in TOS: "The Paradise Syndrome"

with tapes in the opening

Type 2
description

(Star Trek Poster Book)

In April 1977, in the Star Trek Poster Book (if you are old enough to remember), there appeared an article entitled "The Medical Technology of Star Trek" written by Geoffrey Mandel where he refers to this computer as the "Cats Brain" computer. The "Cats Brain" moniker for the thing referred to by both McCoy and Kirk in dialog as a "biocomputer" can be originally attributed to Mr. James Blish who adapted "Miri" into a short story for the first novelization of Star Trek episodes (first published back in January, 1967). In the novelization, at McCoy's request that they get a computer down to the planet to help him with isolating and identifying the disease, Kirk instructs Lieutenant Farrell:

"Ship us down the biggest portable bio-computer--the cat-brain job."

The type 2 computer appeared in the following episodes:

 

Type 3 Computer

Moving on to the type 3 units. Now things get a little interesting! The type 3 computer was a flat-topped triangular shaped grey unit that had identical controls on each angled side (with the exception of the toggles which were yellow on one side and black on the opposite side). Most likely there were two of these units. One appears to be a hero model and the other appears to be static. The control configuration on each side consists of a single raised panel with 6 staggered black buttons with silver bezels. Each of these buttons activates a light in a long frosted segmented red and green band above (separated by a narrow yellow band). On the right hand side there are two toggles and on the left side there is a large yellow light. This unit is interesting because the top was able to be modified to different configurations, something we have not yet seen in our analysis of these computer props.

The first appearance of this prop is in the episode "The Conscience of the King" during the rec room scene when Uhura (while playing the Vulcan harp no less) is singing to Riley down in the engine room. In this configuration the prop has a long frosted rectangular section on top with six lights inside on each side (for a total of 12 lights divided by spacers). The edges of the frosted section were outlined in black. In addition on the top there is a long multi-colored segmented panel (3 rows of 21 sections) that ties into a clear round acrylic rod on each side. The acrylic rod is connected to the top of the computer by a narrower rod on each side. Two of these computers props appear together in the same configuration (we will call this configuration "A") in the "The Alternative Factor".


Type 3 in TOS: "The Conscience of the King"

configuration "A" in the rec room

Type 3 in TOS: "The Alternative Factor"

configuration "A" in the rec room

The next appearance of the type 3 prop is in the episode "A Taste of Armageddon." Here we see both the presumed static and the hero props together in what we will call configuration "B." In this configuration the top parts have been removed and have been change to a triangular shaped frosted lens that covered the lights on top and extends over the holes where the acrylic rods were installed on configuration "A." Throughout this episode in the council chambers we see them side-by-side but only with one lighted at a time; which we can assume that the unlit unit is static. At one point it appears that they changed them around so that the opposite unit is lit but we never see both lighted at the same time.


Type 3 in TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon"

configuration "B", lighted

Type 3 in TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon"

two of configuration "B", only one lighted

The next appearance of the type 3 also in configuration "B" is in "Errand of Mercy" when it is depicted as a Klingon computer (which may be the static version since it is never seen lighted).


Type 3 in TOS: "Errand of Mercy"

configuration "B", Klingon rip-off?

Type 3 in TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?"

configuration "A"

The second season debut of the type 3 (hero model) back to its original configuration ("A") is during "Who Mourns for Adonais" when it is seen on the bridge next to the helm station.

In "Amok Time" we see it in the same configuration but unlit. Also in one scene the red and green frosted area is black. There appears to be black tape installed prior to filming most likely to dampen glare from one of the over-head lights. Again the hero in configuration "A" is observed in the back-ground in the episode "Trouble with Tribbles." 


Type 3 in TOS: "Amok Time"

configuration "B"

Type 3 in TOS: "Amok Time"

configuration "A", panel covered with black tape

The next variation (configuration "C") is seen in "The Immunity Syndrome" in Kirk's quarters. Configuration "C" is the same as "A" except the segmented panel and acrylic rods have been removed. A silver plug apparently was inserted into the hole where the rod was attached. The prop is getting a little beat-up by this time as you can see the paint is chipped on the edges.


Type 3 in TOS: "The Immunity Syndrome"

configuration "C"

Finally we see two configurations in a single episode. In "By Any Other Name" we see both configuration "A" in the rec room with Spock and Rojan are playing chess and during the fight scene (it appears unlit in both; can we assume this is the static version?). It appears in configuration "B" in Kirks quarters. This may be the static version from "A Taste of Armageddon" which would have required no change since that episode.


Type 3 in TOS: "By Any Other Name"

configuration "A" in the rec room

Type 3 in TOS: "By Any Other Name"
configuration "B" in Kirk's quarters

We see the lighted hero version in configuration "A" again in Kirks quarters in the episode "The Ultimate Computer" and also in "The Omega Glory" as part of McCoy's medical equipment.


Type 3 in TOS: "The Omega Glory"

configuration "A"

Type 3 in TOS: "Day of the Dove"

configuration "A"

It makes its first appearance in the third season in "And the Children Shall Lead" where we see configuration "A" in the background: unlighted. The next appearance is of the hero version in the same configuration "A" in "Day of the Dove" where the Klingons bring up the diagram of the ship. The last time we see this prop is in "Wink of an Eye" in Kirk's quarters also in configuration "A." I suspect that there were only 2 type 3 computers; a hero and a static version and the tops were changed to the "B" configuration (or "C") when needed. There is no way of knowing for certain.

The type 3 computer appears in these episodes:

 

Type 4A Computer

Now the fun begins! Finally we get to the type 4 computer; by far my favorite style and the reason I started looking into these props as a whole to begin with. Where to start? The beginning I guess! This will be a long subject and there are two basic varieties of the type 4 with several props of each type made so it will be broken down into two groups: type 4A and 4B and then sub-groups of each. This section will be about the type 4A.

The type 4A computer first appeared in the episode "The Galileo Seven". As you may know I am a huge fan of this episode (check out the SS shuttlecraft I am building). The type 4A computer is first seen as part of the shuttlecraft interior instrumentation. They are mounted on the wall of the craft and first seen as the camera passes Phyllis Douglas as Yeoman Mears ("It's getting hot" for sure! Did you know she also played a hippy chick in "Way to Eden"? But I digress). There were three type 4A computers made; all heroes and all three appear in this episode (and 4A gamma gets a great close-up). I know that the AMT corporation built the shuttlecraft interior so did they also build these props? I've always wondered. These were by far the most versatile of the computer props always appearing everywhere throughout the rest of the series. The type 4 is a silver grey rectangular box with an angled front which is where the controls are located. The front angled section is composed of a grouping of 21 lights near the top and a single row of 5 lights below. On the left there are 4 toggles and also on the face there are two curious holes which supposition suggest were for possible mounting screws. Also we can see six screws that appear to mount the face to the body. The shells appear to be made from plywood but it appears from the texture visible in certain views of the face that these may have been made from masonite. All three were the same with the exception of the colors of the lights and toggle switches.

Type 4A alpha As mentioned earlier there were three of these props; each easily identifiable because each had a unique color pattern to the lights and many appearing together in the same episodes. The first we will look at we will call type 4A alpha. As already mentioned it can be first seen in "The Galileo Seven". This is the unit installed towards the front in the shuttlecraft (in the first season later to be replaced in that position by 4A beta).


Type 4A alpha computer panel

identification of the lights and switches

Type 4A alpha in TOS: "The Galileo Seven"

in the shuttle side wall

In addition to appearing in the shuttlecraft from "The Menagerie, Part I" it also showed up in that same episode in the computer center at the star base as part of one of the type 7 computers.


Type 4A alpha in TOS: "The Menagerie, Part I"

in the shuttle side wall

Type 4A alpha in TOS: "The Menagerie, Part I"

on the right, at the bottom of a type 7 computer

The next time we see Alpha is as part of the Eminiar VII's war computers (again as part of a type 7). We will see that the Eminians just love type 4 computers. They have all the models.


Type 4A alpha in TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon"

showing 4A beta, gamma, alpha from left to right

Type 4A alpha in TOS: "The Changeling"

in the auxiliary control room

4A alpha made its second season debut in the episode "The Changeling" as part of the auxiliary control room. It is mounted to a wall panel where the poor guy who is watching Nomad is working while he is suppose to be keeping an eye on the robot; oh well, that didn't work out! Obviously the sets had openings where they could insert anyone of these computers into the wall because later we see 4A beta in this same location, which is precisely what happened in the shuttlecraft interior also. Next time we see 4A alpha it has been installed in the emergency manual monitor (or whatever they call that place that's above engineering) in the episode "Mirror, Mirror" where it is installed upside down. I've often wondered if that was done intentionally to let us know that things are all messed-up and turned around. Maybe I'm reading too much into it! It appears at the same location for "The Immunity Syndrome" but they have flipped it over so it's right-side up now.


Type 4A alpha in TOS: "Mirror, Mirror"

upside down in this universe, along with type 6

Type 4A alpha in TOS: "The Immunity Syndrome"

upside up again

We don't see Alpha again until "The Lights of Zetar" when we get a good look at it again in the emergency manual monitor as Lt. Romaine leans up against it. The lower unit is type 6. This is the last time we see 4A alpha in the series.


Type 4A alpha in TOS: "The Lights of Zetar"

again in the same location, along with type 6

Type 4A alpha computer controls

lights associated with the switches

Type 4A beta The type 4A beta as mentioned before is the same basic configuration of all type 4A props; just with different color lights. It too was first seen in "The Galileo Seven" as the second computer behind 4A alpha where Scotty sat behind Yeoman Mears.


Type 4A beta computer panel

identification of the lights and switches

Type 4A beta in TOS: "The Galileo Seven"

in the shuttle side wall

It held the same position in the episode "The Menagerie, Part I" during the shuttlecraft scene. Also as previously mentioned with 4A alpha, 4A beta too appeared in the computer section of the star base in the first part of "The Menagerie." It was installed at the bottom section of a type 7 unit and can be seen when Spock fights the first guy. 


Type 4A beta in TOS: "The Menagerie, Part I"

in the shuttle side wall

Type 4A beta in TOS: "The Menagerie, Part I"

at the starbase, at the bottom of a type 7

As with 4A alpha, 4A beta was also a part of the Eminiar VII war computer complex but had a much more prominent position. It was mounted at the bottom of a type 7 unit at the center as you entered the room.


Type 4A beta in TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon"

again at the bottom of a type 7 unit

Type 4A beta in TOS: "Metamorphosis"

replacing 4A alpha

The first second season appearance of 4A beta is in the episode "Metamorphosis" in the shuttlecraft at the front position previously where 4A alpha was. It also maintains this position during its appearance in my favorite episode "The Doomsday Machine" although in both episodes we only see a glance of it. It has also replaced 4A alpha in the auxiliary control room in the episode "I, Mudd" where it is mounted to the wall. Here we see there has been some lettering added to the front panel but we can't make out the wording here. It is seen in this same position in "By Any Other Name."


Type 4A beta in TOS: "The Doomsday Machine"

still in the same new position

Type 4A beta in TOS: "I, Mudd"

replacing 4A alpha here as well

We don't see 4A beta again until the third season episode "And the Children Shall Lead." Here again it's in the auxiliary control room and we get a close enough view to read the lettering that was installed in the second season.


Type 4A beta in TOS: "And the Children Shall Lead"

with better visible new lettering

Type 4A beta in TOS: "The Way to Eden"

again in the auxiliary control room

The final series appearance of 4A beta was again in the auxiliary control room scene from "The Way to Eden." Notice Phyllis Douglas as a hippy chick. I think I like her better in Galileo Seven! "Heading out to Eden, yeah, brother!"


Type 4A beta computer controls

lights associated with the switches

Type 4A beta sequence, animated

light sequence as in "Way to Eden"

Type 4A gamma The third type 4A we will call 4A gamma. This one with the other two type 4As made its first appearance in the episode "The Galileo Seven." We only see a quick view of it at the doorway as the camera is looking out as Spock and the boys attend the last funeral. 4A gamma has a glorious close-up at the at the climax when Spock jettisons the fuel and ignites it: that's 4A gamma. In the close-up we can make out the lettering on a portion of the prop (which was added for this close-up since clearly there is no labeling on the unit in the funeral scene).


Type 4A gamma computer panel

identification of the lights and switches

Type 4A gamma in TOS: "The Galileo Seven"

close-up as Spock jettisons the fuel

Later in the series we can see more. The next time we see 4A gamma is in the episode "The Alternative Factor" when it's part of a type 7 computer in the engineering area where they have the dilithium crystals. You can see it installed in the bottom of the type 7 when Lazarus overtakes the technician. As with the other two type 4As we see Gamma in the war room of Eminiar VII from "A Taste of Armageddon."


Type 4A gamma in TOS: "The Alternative Factor"

in lower portion of a type 7 computer

Type 4A gamma in TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon"

again in lower portion of a type 7 computer

After its visit to Eminiar VII, 4A gamma had a minor modification. It appears that several of the resin lights fell off by the time it appears in "Operation - Annihilate!". Three lights have now been changed - the green one at the upper right corner which was replaced with a bigger differently shaped red/orange part. The two other lights are the first two on the left hand of the bottom row controlled by the toggle switches. The far left light has been changed from blue to red and the one next to it on the right (the famous "Fuel Jettison" light from "The Galileo Seven") was changed from red to pink/purple. The new part in the upper bank was a different size and shape from the original ones but remained on 4A gamma throughout the rest of the series. It was next seen in the last episode of the first season "Operation - Annihilate!" It has now been mounted onto the test chamber that they had the brain cell creature in trying to destroy it. Also the multi-colored top from a type 3 in "A" configuration was added to the top in this episode only. 4A gamma remained mounted here the rest of the series but with some minor modifications. Also, sometime prior to this episode the label "Fuel Jettison" was removed from the number 3 toggle on 4A gamma and left blank. All other labels remained for the rest of the series.


Type 4A gamma in TOS: "Operation - Annihilate!"

final location & new light in upper right corner

Type 4A gamma in TOS: "The Immunity Syndrome"

first season 2 appearance, again in McCoy's lab

While the test stand continued to have different parts added to it; 4A gamma itself remained unchanged during the second season. It can be seen almost in every scene filmed in McCoy's lab but also made an appearance down on Omega IV during "The Omega Glory." Other than that episode it seems to be confined to the Enterprise medical lab.


Type 4A gamma in TOS: "Obsession"

nice close-up
 

Type 4A gamma in TOS: "By Any Other Name"

Finally the pink light on the bottom row is lit!

Type 4A gamma in TOS: "Return to Tomorrow"

once again in same place
 

Type 4A gamma in TOS: "The Omega Glory"

close-up on the replacement light (upper right)

Type 4A gamma sequence, animated

light sequence as in "Return to Tomorrow"

Type 4A gamma computer panel since season 3

identification of the lights and switches

The first appearance of Gamma in the third season is in the episode "Elaan of Troyius" again in McCoy's lab, but now we see there has been a tape slot added to the face of 4A gamma.


Type 4A gamma in TOS: "Elaan of Troyius"

with new slot for data tape

Type 4A gamma in TOS: "Wink of an Eye"

together with its cousin type 4B

We see it again in the background of "Wink of an Eye" and also in "Lights of Zetar" again in the background right after Scotty gets zapped while trying to put Lt. Romaine in the pressure chamber.


Type 4A gamma in TOS: "The Lights of Zetar"

another background appearance

Type 4A gamma in TOS: "Turnabout Intruder"

final appearance in the final episode

4A gamma makes its final screen appearance in the final episode of the series "Turnabout Intruder" again in the lab. The final appearance of 4A gamma is a solitary shot of it standing alone in the lab.


Type 4A gamma
computer controls

for the time before it was mounted on the test chamber

The type 4A computers appear in these episodes:

 

Type 4B Computer

Now we get to the mysterious 4B. Why mysterious you asked? Well I'll tell you (in a bit). First, what's the difference between the 4A & 4B? The 4B is very similar to the 4A but with some interesting changes. These are differences between them:

It appears that there were two type 4B computers; both appear to be hero models. The five push buttons on the right of the tape slot each operate one of the five lights in the lower bank (which is identical to the 4A configuration) and are black surrounded by a silver bezel. The two push buttons switches on the left of the tape slot both are red with a silver bezel. One of these push buttons operates the large red rectangular light. The four knobs on the left are all 4 black with a small white arrow on the surface of each.

Type 4B alpha The 4B alpha made its first appearance in the episode "Court Martial." And here is the first mystery. We see it in two different sets; one in Commodore Stone's office and the other in the hearing room. 


Type 4B alpha computer panel

in its later 1st season configuration

The Commodore Stone version is completely painted a light creamy grey including the base. The trial version is a silver-grey front with the body and base a dark grey. So, these must be two different type 4Bs in this episode: right? Well, not so fast. Both of these two computers have the exact same light colors on every light. Did they make two identical units? Past analysis of most of the TOS props suggests that there was no set pattern to the colors; they appear to have been randomly installed. So why would these two be identical? More likely the unit was painted after the appearance in Commodore Stone's office to appear to be a different unit. If there were two units we never see the Stone version again.


Type 4B alpha in TOS: "Court Martial"

light grey base in Stone's office

Type 4B alpha in TOS: "Court Martial"

dark grey base in the hearing room

The next time we see the 4B alpha is in the trial during "The Menagerie". It has had some minor changes here. Lettering has been added to the unit in several areas (see graphic above).


Type 4B alpha in TOS: "The Menagerie"

with new lettering

We see Alpha again in "A Taste of Armageddon" sitting on top of a type 7 unit. The alpha unit appears unchanged from its previous appearance. You can still see the lettering in some shots. Here is the beginning of the second mystery of the 4B. At the end of episode Kirk blows up the room. The last time we see 4B alpha in this episode it appears to be in flames but did it survive? Apparently so because it appears in the very next episode "Space Seed".


Type 4B alpha in TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon"

still with lettering from previous episode
 

Type 4B alpha in TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon"

nice side view

Type 4B alpha in TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon"

This doesn't look good!!!!

Type 4B alpha in TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon"

It's not!!!

The appearance in "Space Seed" is however, the last time we see 4B alpha the rest of the entire series: it is never used again in any show. There is some stock footage used in the episode "The Deadly Years" of a close-up of 4B alpha but it is clearly not the computer sitting in the room in the long shots. What happened to 4B alpha? The mystery of the 4B!


Type 4B alpha in TOS: "Space Seed"

last appearance

These 4B units appear to be possible modified 4As. If the AMT corporation supplied the shuttlecraft interior electronic props (they DID supply the shuttlecraft interior, but not sure about the set dressings) it's possible that they supplied a few extra units and one or two of them were modified into the 4B configuration. If Desilu made these it's possible that four or five were made in the original 4A style and some modified to the 4B configuration. This is speculation of course but the way the long rectangular light lines up with the missing line of lights on the upper bank is interesting. It makes me think that the long light was added later in an effort to convert some of the existing props to appear different without too much trouble. If not why make a prop so similar to an existing model?

Type 4B beta The type 4B Beta is the last of the type 4 props we see. What is interesting about this prop is it is the only appearance of this type for the rest of series. Why did we never see 4B alpha again? Was it re-built into 4B beta? Did it disappear (like Shatner's hair piece) after the first season? We will never know these answers. What we do know is that 4B alpha appeared exclusively in the first season and 4B beta in the second and third. 4B beta had a few minor changes from its cousin 4B alpha. Namely the black knobs with the arrows of the alpha prop have been replaced with multi-colored knobs on beta. Also as we have seen with nearly every other prop in TOS the lights are all different colors. There appears to have been only one 4B beta that's right! Apparently only one model was made. This is seemingly impossible since we mostly think of this prop when considering the TOS PCs. For some reason this is the one that comes to mind when thinking about any of these type 4 props.


Type 4B beta computer panel

identification of the lights and switches

The first appearance of 4B beta is in the episode "Wolf in the Fold" and it makes a grand entrance! We get to see several close-ups of the prop and we immediately see the changes from 4B alpha. We can see that the knobs on the left side have been changed. Now the knobs have a tiered shape and have differing colors: darker blue-grey, brown, lighter blue-grey and red from top to bottom. Other than that and the differing colored lights 4B beta appears identical to alpha. Was alpha damaged and beta made as a replacement? Was there more damage from "A Taste of Armageddon" than we can see? In any event it appears that both have the same base; whether it's the same or another one is up for conjecture.


Type 4B beta in TOS: "Wolf in the Fold"

first appearance

Type 4B beta in TOS: "Wolf in the Fold"

close-up, showing differences to alpha

We see 4B beta again very soon in the episode "Mirror, Mirror" where it pulls double duty. It is the same prop in both Kirks quarters and in the alternative Spock's quarters. We get some great shots of it from both quarters.


Type 4B beta in TOS: "Mirror, Mirror"

in Kirk's quarters

Type 4B beta in TOS: "Mirror, Mirror"

in Spock's quarters

Beta makes its next appearance in "The Deadly Years" when they are trying to relieve Kirk of command. As mentioned before in all of the long shots we can clearly see 4B beta but in the close-up it's 4B alpha. This is an aberration; simply some stock footage of the type 4B alpha inserted into the scene. Alpha is not in the room here.


Type 4B beta in TOS: "The Deadly Years"

at Kirk's trial

Type 4B "beta" in TOS: "The Deadly Years"

stock footage of 4B alpha, not the same device

We see 4B beta again in the science lab in the episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" and also in the background of Spock's quarters in "Journey to Babel." Both are basically background set pieces that are not significant to the scene.


Type 4B beta in TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles"

behind McCoy

Next 4B beta has a starring role in "The Omega Glory" as a part of McCoy's medical equipment. We get to really see it when Spock tries to contact the ship through it and Captain Tracy phasers it before he can make contact. Don't worry, it appears again but this is the last time we see it in season 2.


Type 4B beta in TOS: "The Omega Glory"

nice close-up

Type 4B beta in TOS: "The Omega Glory"

another close-up

4B beta makes it third season debut in "The Enterprise Incident" but only as a background player. 


Type 4B beta in TOS: "The Enterprise Incident"

behind McCoy

We see it again in a minor role in "Wink of an Eye" while Kirk is recording his message to tell them he has been accelerated. 


Type 4B beta in TOS: "Wink of an Eye"

in the medical lab

Type 4B beta in TOS: "Wink of an Eye"

close-up, showing the light colors

It has a wonderful close-up in "Lights of Zetar" in the briefing room as they realize that Lt. Romaine's brain waves are identical to the aliens'. The last time we get to see 4B beta is in the episode "The Way to Eden" as Spock is trying to find the planet. Here in Spock's quarters we can see that there has been some lettering added to Beta but we can't read it and will never get the chance later. Of all of the type 4 computers that are in TOS it's 4B beta that we usually think of when considering these props.


Type 4B beta in TOS: "The Lights of Zetar"

another nice close-up

Type 4B beta in TOS: "The Way to Eden"

with additional lettering; last appearance

Just a note. The color of the lights can look different in certain episodes due to lighting and film processing. 

The type 4B appears in the following episodes:

 

Type 5 Computer

There were two type 5 computers made and like the type 4A models they made their first appearance in the episode "The Galileo Seven" as part of the interior wall mounted controls of the shuttlecraft. Both are "hero" models. These computers are smaller then the type 4A and are flat grey rectangular units with 21 staggered lights and four switches mounted under the lights in a side to side configuration (as opposed to the up & down configuration on the type 4A units). There are two of the familiar mounting tubes on the face on each side of the switch bank and also 4 screws that connect the face to the body. Each unit measures (by extrapolation) approximately 12" long and 7.25" high. They are identifiable by the colored lights which are unique to each unit and by the switch colors which also are exclusive to each unit. They also only appear to be wall mounted units; never seen free-standing. 


Type 5 alpha computer panel

identification of the lights and switches

Type 5 beta computer panel

identification of the lights and switches

These are first seen as the camera pans through the shuttlecraft and are adjacent to the character Gaetano's station. The units are in a stacked configuration in the shuttlecraft. We will call the top unit "5 alpha" and the bottom unit "5 beta."


Type 5 computers in TOS: "The Galileo Seven"

upper: alpha, lower: beta

Type 5 computers in TOS: "The Galileo Seven"

upper: alpha, lower: beta

Like the previous Type 4A model the Type 5 units also appear several times in the episode "The Menagerie, Part I" as part of the shuttlecraft interior as seen previously (they can be seen as Kirk goes to the back to check the atmosphere status). Both units also appear in the computer center at the star base (but just a glance of 5 beta). 


Type 5 alpha in TOS: "The Menagerie, Part I"

upside down

Type 5 beta in TOS: "The Menagerie, Part I"

the one behind Spock

We see 5 alpha and beta in the episode "The Alternative Factor" as part of the instrumentation in the engineering section where the dilithium crystals were. These units were pretty versatile and non-descript so that they could be added as set-dressing and kind of blend into the background whenever a few switches and lights were needed. This is evident in the episode "The Return of the Archons" when both 5 alpha and beta are part of the absorption chamber console.


Type 5 units in TOS: "The Alternative Factor"

left: beta, right: alpha (turned 90)

Type 5 units in TOS: "The Return of the Archons"

left: alpha, right: beta

Both units make another appearance together as part of type 7 computers in the war room of Eminiar VII although only 5 beta is lit.


Type 5 beta in TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon"

in lower half of left console 

Type 5 alpha in TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon"

to the right in the back

The first appearance of a type 5 in season two is in the episode "The Changeling" in the auxiliary control room. We see 5 beta mounted behind the screen on a section of the old engineering section from the season 1 engineering room. Funny that it's not there a few episodes earlier in "The Doomsday Machine." Just another example of how they continually tweaked the sets by adding set dressings and other greeblies as the series went on. We see 5 beta again on the far side of the emergency manual monitor room. Scotty goes over and opens an access panel right below the unit in the episode "Mirror Mirror." We see 5 beta again in the same position in "I Mudd" when Norman is taking over the ship.


Type 5 beta in TOS: "The Changeling"

in the auxiliary control room

Type 5 beta in TOS: "I, Mudd"

emergency manual monitor

A few episodes later type 5 beta appears in two separate locations in the same episode. In "The Immunity Syndrome" it is in its familiar position in the emergency manual monitor but also it is aboard the shuttlecraft as part of a type 7 computer.


Type 5 beta in TOS: "The Immunity Syndrome"

emergency manual monitor

Type 5 beta in TOS: "The Immunity Syndrome"

in the shuttle

In the third season we see what appears to be the elusive type 5 alpha in the position previously held by beta in the auxiliary control room in the episode "And the Children Shall Lead." The first change to one of the units appears in "The Lights of Zetar" where the 5 alpha unit is painted black in its first appearance at beta's previous position in the emergency manual monitor.


Type 5 alpha in TOS: "And the Children Shall Lead"

in the back of the auxiliary control room

Type 5 alpha in TOS: "The Lights of Zetar"

painted black

We see beta a few episodes later in "The Way to Eden" again in the auxiliary control room (where 5 alpha was seen just a few episodes previously). I believe this is the last appearance of the type 5 units. Strange how they moved the units around when ever they needed them and just stuck any unit in the hole. Especially since mostly these units appeared in only two different locations. Two units, two locations; why not just leave them in place? It's also funny how 5 beta seemed to be used much more then its counterpart.


Type 5 beta in TOS: "The Way to Eden"

in the back of the auxiliary control room

 

Type 6 Computer

Type 6 is a wall-mounted device that we customarily see in the emergency manual monitor in the upper level of engineering, together with a 4A alpha unit. The type 6 units changed after the first season.


Type 6 unit in TOS: "The Lights of Zetar"

lower: type 6, upper: 4A alpha

 

Type 7 Computer

Type 7 refers to the big floor-mounted consoles as they appear in various places, prominently on Starbase 11 in "The Menagerie, Part I" and in the war room of Eminiar VII in "A Taste of Armageddon". There are as many as 7 different units with a unique screen history that will be described in a future write-up.


Type 7 units in TOS: "The Menagerie, Part I"

with type 4A beta at the bottom of the left one

 

More about Computers

Variations of the TOS Desktop Monitor - investigation of its evolution and all variants, including TOS-like monitors in ENT

Re-Used Props - Stationary Consoles - viewscreens, wall- or floor-mounted consoles

Re-Used Props - Mobile Computers - desktop computers, handheld computers

 


The "PC" Props of Star Trek TOS, Part 7 @ TrekCore Blog

 


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Last modified: 06.07.14  
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