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Google Developing Star Trek-inspired Voice Assistant Code-named “Majel” December 14, 2011

by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: Science/Technology,Trek Franchise , trackback

The real world seems to continue to get closer to the technological future envisioned by Star Trek, and apparently some of the people working to make that happen are inspired by Star Trek. A new report says that Google is working on a secret project to develop a voice controlled personal assistant, and they named the project "Majel" after Majel Roddenberry Barrett.


Google’s "Majel" Voice Assistant

Last December TrekMovie reported that Google had purchased a speech recognition software company as part of their plan to (as stated by Google’s Mike Cohen) help them "move a little faster towards that Star Trek future" of freeing people from their keyboards and talking to their computers. Now the site AndroidAndMe is reporting that Google’s "secret project" to take on Apple’s Siri voice assistant is named "Majel" in honor of Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, who provided the voice for Star Trek’s computer for decades (including the 2009 Star Trek movie). Apparently the voice assistant will be available in the future on Android phones and tablets. 

According to the report:

Majel is an evolution of Google’s Voice Actions that is currently available on most Android phones with the addition of natural language processing. Where Voice Actions required you to issue specific commands like “send text to…” or “navigate to…”, Majel will allow you to perform actions in your natural language similar to how Siri functions.

And in a follow-up article, an insider tipster describes working with an early release of the secret project:

“…The UI is definitely more powerful than Siri’s, even if a little harder to navigate.

At least at one phase of the development you would activate it by saying “Computer…” It was hard not to use a Jean Luc Piccard accent when doing it!”

And to drive home the point that Google is using Star Trek’s talking computers as a yardstick, a recent video from company titled "The Evolution of Search" has Google fellow Amit Singhai saying (in part) "My dream has always been to build the Star Trek computer."

It isn’t known if "Majel" is just the code name for the secret project, or they will use it for the final product, but regardless we will know that Star Trek was part of the inspiration.

Here is a tribute video (from SuperTrekNerd) of Majel Barrett-Roddenberry as Star Trek’s computer voice.


Thanks to Darren for the tip


1. ajm1701 - December 15, 2011

What a lovely way to honour and remember a legend.

2. Toonloon - December 15, 2011


3. SciFiMetalGirl - December 15, 2011

I love Google more and more every day!

4. TheTim - December 15, 2011

Very lovely

5. Gordon Ramsey's knife - December 15, 2011

James Earl Jones would be better

6. VZX - December 15, 2011

1. Absolutely. Majel Barret really was the First Lady of Star Trek. If this name is for the final product, it would be a neat way to honor her.

Best news item of the day.

7. CmdrR - December 15, 2011

Very nice move, Google.
You almost give buhzillionaires a good name.

8. Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire - December 15, 2011

#5. He is Good. But Majel is Better and we want the best for this.

9. Gordon Ramsey's knife - December 15, 2011

#8 Majel passed in 2008…God rest her soul….so how do you update her voice to todays and tommorrows lingo…Jones is the better choice

10. rm10019 - December 15, 2011

This is great! Majel is perfect.

11. Niall Johnson - December 15, 2011

I can’t help but notice that the clip left out her bit in Star Trek (2009) where she was messing with Chekov’s pronunciation!

Loved the clip though.

12. Hat Rick - December 15, 2011

Star Trek Lives!

I love Star Trek.

And now, I can live Star Trek.


I can see an ad something like the following:

“Computer, run Level 3 Diagnostic on current operating system.”

Computer: “Unable to comply. Ancient Windows 7 System exceeds capacity for diagnosis or repair. Suggest upgrade to Apple OS Lion.”

13. Hat Rick - December 15, 2011

^^ Re: 12: Even though Google is the anti-Apple, that is.

14. VZX - December 15, 2011

@11: Video made two years before Trek 2009 came out. Read the passage above the video.

But, yeah, that would have been neat to add to it.

15. jas_montreal - December 15, 2011

I Foresee CBS suing Google for using Star Trek references to make money :)

16. Andy Patterson - December 15, 2011

That’s cool. Really is. Would be really cool if they were able to use her voice.

17. SciFiGuy - December 15, 2011

Aw, maaan…they should have called it Pascale. Except then it would stop working for long periods of time and then suddenly start working again inexplicably. HAHAHA!!!

18. Sebastian S. - December 15, 2011

Good call, Google! ;-D

I had the privilege of meeting Majel R. Barrett back in 2006 (about 2 years before she died), and although she was clearly not well, she stayed and autographed for a sizable group of fans and was gracious to each and every one (including myself). She was truly a lady in every sense.

It would be an interesting bit of continuity (as well as a cute insider gag) to have her ‘daughter’ Marina Sirtis continue as the computer voice in the new movies (if she can tone down her Londoner accent just a bit).

I think there was a poll here once to that effect.

19. Phil the Gooner - December 15, 2011

#18 ” (if she can tone down her Londoner accent just a bit).”
Does everyone in Starfleet come from the U.S?
What’s wrong with a London Accent?

20. John - December 15, 2011


21. Paul Fitz - December 15, 2011

Wonderful tribute to Majel.

If i were to choose anyone else it would be Jennifer Lien (Kes), she has an amazing voice, or Judi Durand (the DS9 station computer).

22. Odkin - December 15, 2011

SInce Majel needs to be replaced in the new movie, I repeat my nomination for Nichelle Nichols as the new computer voice!

23. denny cranium - December 15, 2011

@7 whats wrong with being a buhzillionaire?

24. Red Dead Ryan - December 15, 2011


I agree. Nichelle Nicholls never got to do any cameos in non-TOS Trek, while the rest of her fellow castmates did. I think Nichelle has a nice voice, and has shown some class, unlike Marina Sirtis, who seems to have some anti-Semitic racist issues with regards to her awful comments about J.J Abrams.

Plus there is no good reason to have Marina follow in the footsteps of Majel. People just associate it with the fact Marina played Deanna Troi, daughter of Majel’s Lwaxanna, on TNG.

25. Vultan - December 15, 2011


I second that! Jennifer Lien does have a great voice.

26. Vultan - December 15, 2011


What anti-Semitic remarks did Sirtis make?

27. Red Dead Ryan - December 15, 2011


I don’t know. What I do know is, several people who went to conventions with Sirtis attending witnessed her disparaging remarks about J.J Abrams. Comments about Sirtis’ rude behavior were posted by several fans on this site a couple of years ago; can’t remember which threads, but it was more than a simple misunderstanding.

28. Let Them Eat Plomeek Soup - December 15, 2011

Ah…this is awesome.

All I have to say. :)

29. Keachick - rose pinenut - December 15, 2011

Were the remarks made just against JJ Abrams personally or did they include racial slurs as well? There is a difference.

This google project is hardly secret anymore, since we now know about it…:)

I vote that Nichelle Nichols become the Enterprise’s new computer voice. Has she been asked? Is she able to/up for it?

30. Keachick - rose pinenut - December 15, 2011

I meant to also mention – if only Bob Orci and co. were as “secretive”!…;)

31. Vultan - December 15, 2011


Yeah, what Keachick said.

32. Greenberg - December 15, 2011

JJ earned it.

33. I am not Herbert - December 15, 2011

“Majel” = Excellent

34. Lt. Bailey - December 15, 2011

I have always wanted to talk to my computer…. I am just not sure if I want it to talk back to me. It might want to show off and point out my mistakes and go “Nyah-Nyah”.

35. Andy Patterson - December 15, 2011

Barbara Babcock is still with us. She was the voice of the Beta 5. She’d be great.

36. VZX - December 15, 2011

I would also like to nominate Nichelle Nichols as the new computer voice.

37. AJ - December 15, 2011

I’ll add my vote for Nichelle as the new computer voice, if anyone’s counting.

38. MJ - December 15, 2011

It’s a cool idea, but can they legally do that without buying the rights from the Roddenberry estate…probably Rod?

39. Keachick - rose pinenut - December 15, 2011

The computer voice is part of Star Trek canon, which is owned by Paramount/CBS? (I get mixed up who else owns what). Therefore, they can have whoever they want to be the new voice.

40. n1701ncc - December 15, 2011

Troi deserves to be the continuing voice of the computer in Star Trek. Marina Sirtis can fill the shoes of her mother quite nicely. Majel was in everyway the First Lady of Star Trek. She was and always shall be the First Number 1, the first nurse, the first computer voice and finally the first to truly drive Picard nuts. As Gene was the Great Bird , Majel was the Great Angel of the Stars. Google will proudly honor her and CBS better not sue.

41. Thorny - December 15, 2011

Peace and quiet will be a scarce commodity in the very near future. It is bad enough that everywhere you go these days, people are yacking constantly to other people on their cellphones, now they’re going to be yacking TO their smartphones and having the phone yack right back at them.

I really don’t want to hear the guy next to me on the bus asking what’s the best treatment for flaky dandruff, thank you very much.

Ban Siri and Majel. Before it is too late!

(tongue only partially in cheek)

42. PEB - December 15, 2011

Totally off-topic but could the Borg (if ever done in the new timeline on film/tv/comics) be completely reinvisioned and revitalized successfully as a concept if they were more like the Reapers/Husks from Mass Effect? I mean, they are basically the machine zombies of the Trek universe and thats practically what the Reapers/Husks are in Mass Effect. The Borg just seemed to keep losing their threat level within the series and if they’re ever to make a ressurgance, they need their edge back. Kinda like the Klingons…

Definitely love the idea of “Majel” and I’m with the above posters about Nichelle taking over the voice of the computer. Nichelle or Jennifer (Kes) Lien for sure! better get on that JJ & crew!

43. fizzben - December 15, 2011

They need to clone her voice. It would be so poetic. oh and its Majel Barrett Roddenberry, not Roddenberry Barrett

44. MJ - December 15, 2011

@39 “The computer voice is part of Star Trek canon, which is owned by Paramount/CBS? (I get mixed up who else owns what). Therefore, they can have whoever they want to be the new voice.”

You are correct in that they could arrange with CBS to buy the rights to the voice itself. Buy CBS doesen’t own the rights to the name “Majel” — that would be owned by the Rodenberry estate.

45. J - December 15, 2011

If it can synthesize Majel’s voice then I’m SOLD SOLD SOLD!

46. Nony - December 15, 2011

This is cool, what a nice tribute to her. :)

Majel probably recorded enough computer commands over the years that there wouldn’t be a need to replace her. It’s not like the computer would be saying anything particularly weird, except the odd planet or alien name or something that could be dubbed in or spliced together. It wouldn’t feel right without her!

47. Sebastian S. - December 15, 2011

#19 ”
Does everyone in Starfleet come from the U.S?
What’s wrong with a London Accent?”

I never said there’s anything WRONG with it, it’s just that her accent borders on Cockney, and it might be difficult for some to understand (especially all of those ‘American accented’ aliens! ;-D). And if you saw ST09, you can see how the computer has trouble with thick accents…

Besides, as a tribute to Majel, the computer voice should sound like her as much as possible. The computer’s always had sort of a ‘neutral’ sort of accent; not particularly regional. Imagine the Enterprise computer suddenly having a strong Bronx accent or Texan accent. It’d be somewhat inconsistent.

And no, clearly Jean Luc Picard is not from the US (nor is he from LeBarre, France, either. My dad lived in France as a boy and he sounded NOTHING like the veddy, veddy British Picard… ;-)

48. Battle-scarred Sciatica - December 15, 2011

@13 Hat

Just think what would happen if you mixed Apple and Anti-Apple together!


Or alternatively evil alter egos would run amuck. Half Sevens, half Lions.

Scary stuff.

49. Rhett Coates - December 15, 2011

The scene from ST:TNG I remember most, regarding the computer voice by Majel, is in an episode where Lwaxana Troi (played by Majel) is setting up a program outside the holodeck doors, and is interacting with the ship’s computer voice (voiced by Majel) — it’s as if she’s talking with herself, LOL! ANTHONY — can you find THAT scene and link to it here, along with the scene showing Jimmy Doohan entering the Enterprise-D’s holodeck? That scene, with Lwaxana, is a hoot!

50. Basement Blogger - December 15, 2011

Thanks Anthony for the story. And YAHOOOOO! Sorry, Google. But this just shows how big Star Trek is. I miss Majel and Gene.

51. mazzer - December 15, 2011

I expect much of Google’s “inspiration” actually came from the latest talking iPhone, not from Star Trek. But then Apple probably had Star Trek at the back of its mind already…mazzer

52. Odkin - December 15, 2011

YAHOOOOO? That’s the other company. I think they’re working a voice assistant too, but it can only control 1998 versions of Netscape Navigator, and sounds like Baby Spice.

53. Red Dead Ryan - December 15, 2011

I can just imagine Harry Ballz talking to his “Majel”-enabled tablet after accidentally opening up an Erica Durance trivia menu:

HARRY: Computer, end DURANCE test!

MAJEL: Correct. This is an ENDURANCE test.

HARRY: I meant end DURANCE test, as in end the ERICA DURANCE test! Sheesh!

MAJEL: Your request does not fit the parameters of the program. Please rephrase your command.

HARRY: GEEZ, I finally buy an iPad, and it talks back to me!

MAJEL: Correct.


MAJEL: Your request did not compute. I am not a man. Please rephrase your command.


MAJEL: Your command is not recognized. ENDURANCE test can not be ceased without a special command code.


MAJEL: I can not self terminate. Your command is invalid.

HARRY: F#CK, I’ll have to maually turn off this damned iPad then!

MAJEL: Unable to comply. Manual override is disabled. ENDURANCE test must be completed.

(Cue music from “Psycho”)


54. Viking - December 15, 2011

#53 – I get the feeling that you ain’t gonna give Harry any love in this thread, are you? LMAO :-)

55. danielcraigsmywookiebitchnow - December 15, 2011

pretty sure there is more than enough usuable audio clips of majel as the computer that she can continue to be used as the voice. its amazing what audio engineers can do to piece togeather even fragments of words.

56. Red Dead Ryan - December 15, 2011


Hey, I’m just pointing out the possible worst case scenario involving MAJEL and Harry! ;-)

57. Gordon Ramsey's knife - December 15, 2011

No offence meant…but she died in 2008…the computer voice is JJ’s choice and to piece audio clips from the past
would be more expensive than having a new voice for the new movie

58. jesustrek - December 15, 2011

Great tribute to Majel Barett-Roddenberry

59. alt-Spock - December 15, 2011

Nice. Very nice.

60. NCM - December 15, 2011

Revive Nurse Chapel!

61. Harry Ballz - December 15, 2011


Ah, very nice, Ryan! That reads like a scene from…..The Wrath Of Harry!!

“She tasks me!!”

62. Khan was Framed! - December 16, 2011


Majel is so legendary that Google honour her with this, yet Diamond Select never produced a figure of any of her characters?!


It’s also lame that we never saw Nurse Chapel in St ’09. I really hope she & Yeoman rand appear in the sequel.

63. MJ - December 16, 2011

“It’s also lame that we never saw Nurse Chapel in St ‘09. I really hope she & Yeoman rand appear in the sequel.”

Which brings up a long standing fantasy of mine……

64. Harry Ballz - December 16, 2011


What, MJ, wishing for a randy nurse?

65. danielcraigsmywookiebitchnow - December 16, 2011

57 it wouldnt be anymore expensive than casting a new voice, in anycase their were reports back when it was announced that she had recorded dialouge for the computer voice for trek 09 that there were addtional recordings made so that they could do just that in future films.

66. Hat Rick - December 16, 2011

48, even though I’m a PC guy, I like Apple a lot, so I’m actually not too concerned if either PC or Apple “wins” this fight. I actually became an Apple fan after falling in love with my iPhone.

In the battle of the titans of the word of computers for artificial intelligence supremacy, you’re right — kaboom! Let the battle royale begin and may the best Terminatrix prototype win. (Did I say that? I meant cuddly and assuring AI intelligence, not Terminatrix. Forget any implication that AI will become self-aware (or, according to the Terminator series, already has…?).) Although I do think that Apple would win in the end because Siri is such a great product, it gives it a head start.

Well, if we’re going to have a Terminatrix prototype, it might as well have a beautiful voice. ;-)

67. Jerry Modene - December 16, 2011

FWIW, Nichelle did do some voices in ST:TAS, the one that comes to mind is “The Survivor” (the one with Ted Knight playing Carter Winston); Nichelle played the starfleet officer (Anne Nored) who was involved with Winston. I think she also did the voice for one of the ladies in “Lorelei Syndrome”.

At any rate, she’s no stranger to voice acting, so it would make perfect sense for her to do the computer voice from here on out.

Meanwhile, although we never saw specifically saw her, Nurse Chapel’s name did get mentioned in ST09 – when McCoy hollers out for a shot of cordrazine or something and you hear a voice answering him. I wonder if that nurse that Kirk said “Hi” to as he first enters Sickbay wasn’t supposed to be Nurse Chapel…?

68. Travis - December 16, 2011

*** Picks up my Android Phone… I say ” Computer… Good Morning Computer ” ***

69. rm10019 - December 16, 2011

Hellooooo Computer…..

70. - December 16, 2011


71. Reliana - December 16, 2011

Apple developed the iPad and Siri which were obviously inspired by Star Trek consciously or subconsciously, but I haven’t seen them acknowledge the link, even after others did. I find that more than a little annoying. Why would they not? My theory comes from experience. A lot of Mac users I’ve met were militant Star Wars/Mac enthusiasts that would become raving lunatics at the mere mention of Star Trek or PCs. Perhaps Apple’s research found the same thing?

I think the name, code or official, is a beautiful tribute to an icon of Star Trek and I have a lot of respect for Google that they acknowledge their inspiration early on. I don’t think Star Trek really gets the credit it deserves for how it has shaped our tech today and will in the future.

72. Red Dead Ryan - December 16, 2011


Thanks, Harry!

73. Duncan MacLeod - December 16, 2011

IIRC When Majel recorded the voice for Trek 2009, it was said that she recorded enough dialogue to use for several move movies.

74. Steve T. in NY - December 16, 2011

I do know of some people working on a system outside of google for android phones and tablets. They are trying to create J.A.R.V.I.S. which is the computer butler of Tony Stark from the Iron man movies. I thought this would be a great idea but they need to get Paul Bettany to do the voice. They have some generic english accent womans voice now. Google should try to do the JARVIS system instead as they copyright shouldnt be as big a deal.. after all they got “droid” from Lucas.. why not JARVIS from Marvel??? Beside.. CBS people are asses.. they sue anyone that tries to make a buck from Star Trek.. no matter how little they are…

75. Battle-scarred Sciatica - December 16, 2011

@66 Hat

That, my friend is when I fell in love with Apple; when I got my iPhone. Possibly the greatest piece of technology I have ever owned.

I would love it to talk back to me in Maj’s voice.

“access denied”


@64 Ballzy

I know a very good randy nurse, Harry……….me!
I am afraid I can only service one female though….and I am married to her!

“3 minutes to self destruct”

When she reads this I am a dead man!

76. MJ - December 16, 2011

Where is the breaking news story about who is playing the villain? I thought JJ was to have determined this by last weekend?

Come on Anthony, it’s time to check with your inside sources here and break this Trek news story like you used to do the grand old days of this website?

77. Red Dead Ryan - December 16, 2011


I think Anthony is taking a few weeks off for the holidays. Kind of like last year. So I don’t think we’re going to be getting any new articles for awhile.

And by the way, what happened to Rosario? We haven’t had a new sci-fi article in about a hundred years!

78. Hat Rick - December 17, 2011

75, very interesting. It seems that the popularity of the iPhone is clear. Apple has come up with a winner that wins over even PC guys like me.

Recent polls shows that even Android users tend to like Apple in that, on a percentage basis at least, far more Android users want to buy an iPhone for their next smartphone than iPhone users want to buy an Android (or any other) smartphone as a replacement.

And BlackBerry users in the United States as a percentage are looking forward to abandoning their BB’s at what to Research in Motion must be an alarming rate, but that’s a different story. RIM stock prices have plummeted more than 75% recently and that’s been a major concern to RIM (and RIMM) stockholders.

Apple has said that they deliberately made Siri sound less human than possible so that people would instinctively know that she’s a machine intelligence. With Apple at its peak in every way, it would be easy for Apple to do the opposite. Wouldn’t it be great if Apple used Majel Roddenberry’s voice for Siri Version 2.0?

I remember that Apple used Star Trek 2009 images in its in-store promotions. Apple is awesome.

Brings me back to memories of using the original MacIntosh — see — in the lab during my grad school days, as well. How time flies.

79. Basement Blogger - December 17, 2011

It’s here. Happy Anniversary to the record breaking thread. Check it out. In case you don’t remember, a bunch of us Trekkers wrote the largest amount of posts while Anthony was gone.

80. Jack - December 17, 2011

Plus, apparently Siri can’t handle “Tea, Earl Grey. Hot.”

Ps. 78. That would be a swell retconning explanation for why the original E’s computer sounded so trippy. Tones designed to heighten alertness or… Whatever. Because I want it to be real.

Speaking of Star Trek not being American. Any Germans in this next movie? It would be nice to see a German character in a movie who wasn’t a nazi or a Nakatomi-robbing terrorist. Heck, non-Anglo European in general, or Asian/SE Asian or actually African or etc. etc. Jay Chou was pretty darned sexy in Green Hornet. Yep, I’m that white English-speaking male who wants to see less of me in Star Trek.

How ’bout Sigourney Weaver — a little Galaxy Quest/Wall-E injoke. Not really, I just like her voice.

81. JL - December 17, 2011

As a Star Trek fan since I was 5, I can say that I am truly offended. Google, is a glorified, digital ad salesman. They don’t know anything about software. Every day, I hate Google and Apple more and more.

82. Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire - December 17, 2011

The Longest thred in Trek Movie turns 1 year today. Who wants to join the party.

83. Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire - December 17, 2011

Hey Jack. This is for you.

By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged!”.

84. Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire - December 17, 2011

Ok. Harry and AJ and Blogger. Loos like we may have th get this one to the new Record.

85. Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire - December 17, 2011

Here is some Trek News.
Nichelle Nichols tried out for the role of Spock.

86. Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire - December 17, 2011

Here is some older news. Walter Koenig get’s his Star on the walk of fame.

87. Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire - December 17, 2011

Here is something about the Shat. He is back on Brodway.

88. Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire - December 17, 2011

Here is a Great Article.
Bill Gates want’s a REAL Star Trek Tricorder. Good read.

89. Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire - December 17, 2011

Hmm. Which fan base makes the best case. Star Trek or Twilight Fans.

90. Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire - December 17, 2011

Brad Grey who helped get Star Trek Going again is Retained as leader of Paramount.

91. Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire - December 17, 2011

Ok. Some great articles to read. Hope you all enjoy.

92. Basement Blogger - December 17, 2011

@ 84

If Captain Pascale takes shore leave, we may have to turn this thread into a record breaking one.

93. Andy Patterson - December 17, 2011


“Bill Gates want’s a REAL Star Trek Tricorder. Good read”

So do I. Doctors are apothecaries, witch doctors, voodoo shaman, snake oil salesmen, and medieval barbers. Or at least the ones I’ve dealt with in my life are. Been saying this for years. C’mon Bill and your team of inventors. Let’s go!

94. MJ - December 17, 2011

Man, I would love to have Pascale’s vacation schedule. 6 weeks off for Christmas; a month off every August.

95. Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire - December 17, 2011

I would love to see Bill Gates make a Real Medicle Tricorder. That would be Kool.

96. roy - December 17, 2011

71, One of the best things about whether it be Star Trek, Star Wars, Tron, Doctor Who are the number of people who went into science as a career after being inspired by one or more of these franchises.

Someone said this recently that Hollywood creates dreams and it’s up to science to make them reality.

97. Buzz Cagney - December 18, 2011

Slightly tenuous connection to this thread but I’ve just been watching The Search for Spock. Despite having seen the film goodness knows how many times I was surprised at how much the destruction of the Enterprise touched me. Fascinating.
And, also, how impressed I was by Jimmy’s acting during the initiation of the Self Destruct programme (voice activated computer being the tenuous link!).
You could see by his facial expressions that he knew what Kirk was about to do but a part of him couldn’t quite believe it. When the actual command code was given by Kirk he actually flinched. As did Chekov. Lovely acting and a powerful scene.
Just had to get that off my chest! And back to you.

98. Hat Rick - December 18, 2011

80, indeed. Starfleet tended to play mindgames with people when it came to its onboard computers. Remember when the computer was programmed to be “overfriendly” one episode, calling everyone “dear” and driving everyone to distraction with that? I think the writers were conscious of the computer voice issue even back then.

And of course, let’s not forget what happened when they experimented with “multitronic” computers (“The Ultimate Computer,” TOS).

Sometimes I think the guys at the IT Department at Starfleet were just bored and had to find something to do with their time.

99. Hat Rick - December 18, 2011

Speaking of computer technology, it’s clear that Federation computer technology is a quantum leap (pun intended) beyond ours. I believe that computational cores aboard Federation starships use FTL technology, such that the processing of data can exceed that possible within the speed of light. Computer cores are actually set within a subspace field, if I remember my Trek tech manuals correctly (TNG Tech Manual, by Sternbach and Okuda).

Now, what would require such advanced speeds? Transporter technology, for one. Keeping track of all the trillions of particles in objects being beamed would require quite a lot of computational horsepower. Also navigating through constantly changing starfields at warp speeds.

In an alternative to the kind of human/machine interface seen in TNG, one can imagine an integration of machine intelligence with “wetware,” or directly with the neural network in the human brain. In a couple of centuries, it may be possible to plug into the future version of the Internet, which will allow us a virtual presence that is indistinguishable from the real world.

In fact, who is to say that we don’t live in such a Matrix now?


100. Douglas - December 18, 2011

I suspect Majel would have felt stunned, honored and somewhat humbled by the far reaching effect of her role in Star Trek. Just when we think everything has been said and done regarding the original cast, something new comes along. Personally, it gives me a bit of satisfaction to realize that, even as a child, that Star Trek was far more than just an interesting and fun TV show. It sowed the seeds of inspiration and hope, Those self-described grown-ups who dismissed its concepts are left to watch in awe of it’s real-life effect on science, art and society.

101. navamske - December 18, 2011

“Hello, computer!”

Since Majel’s voice was made “mechanical” in TOS and was not really as recognizable as the later computer voice, it would have been hilarious in “Relics” if Scotty, upon hearing the E-D’s computer voice, had said, “Christine? What the bloody hell are ye doin’ in there, lass?”

I loved that this compilation included her funny lines — “Warp core breach, sooner than you think” — from whatever Voyager episode that was.

Ms. Barrett also parodied her computer-voice role in the “Emission Impossible” episode of “Family Guy.” Unfortunately, the clip doesn’t seem to be available on YouTube.

102. Vultan - December 18, 2011


I noticed that as well, Buzz. It really is one of the best scenes throughout Trek.

It’s nice to see something written about TSFS for a change. TWOK gets much of the attention, which I’m sure it deserves, but I’ve always thought TSFS as being nearly equal in quality to its predecessor. Sure, Kruge was no Khan, but I like the fact he was written as more than a crazy, dumb Klingon out to destroy all humans. He was cunning. He wanted prisoners. He saw right through Kirk’s bluff. Plus, Christopher Lloyd is always fun to watch.

“Say the wrong thing, Torg!”

103. Hat Rick - December 18, 2011

Were there only five Federation starships named Enterprise?

Original, A, B, C, D

What about the NX-01? Perhaps not a UFP ship?

104. Shunnabunich - December 18, 2011

@71: As much as individuals within Apple may be Trek fans, I think Apple’s MO is to make their products stand on their own, and that would mean avoiding the temptation to tie them to pop culture references (however time-tested those references might be). They want people to think of iPads as iPads in their own right, not as Apple’s attempt to bring the PADD to the 21st-century masses.

@78: Whoever said that (about them deliberately making Siri less human-like) was probably referring to the textual content of her responses, i.e. what she says, not how she says it. The voice used on iOS devices isn’t even the best voice I’ve heard Apple use in its products (that would be Alex, found on Macs), and I haven’t yet heard a text-to-speech computer voice which sounded real enough to cause “uncanny valley” problems.

A big part of that is that there’s no syntax to specify which tone of voice and rate of speech should be used (to inject emotion, or highlight importance, or even just discreetly murmur something). It just determines pitches for everything using the same algorithm, and the most you can do to change the tone is change the punctuation. In the case of Majel Barrett-Roddenberry’s computer voice, that’s not really a problem, as everything she said was more or less even-keeled in tone. I’m sure Apple’s Siri team tests out every one of the little ancillary response lines they write in the iPhone’s Victoria-like voice to make sure it delivers them well enough to use. If it doesn’t, all they can do is tweak the line.

105. Shunnabunich - December 18, 2011

@103: That’s true, the Federation wasn’t founded until the last episode of Enterprise (or what I like to think of as the episode AFTER the last episode of Enterprise), so there’s that loophole. Really, though, I’m pretty sure that when they were writing that TNG episode, it hadn’t occurred to them to throw in an extra Enterprise to make room for prequels.

106. Harry Ballz - December 18, 2011


Buzz and Vultan:

There is another important distinction about TSFS over TWOK that most people miss:

In TWOK Kirk and crew are attacked by Khan and must fight back in self-defense.

In TSFS Kirk and crew are back on Earth. Kirk elects to sacrifice his career and everything dear to him by VOLUNTARILY doing whatever it takes to help his two best friends.

That’s a HUGE difference in my books.

Anyone can look like a hero when they HAVE to fight back. It’s a whole different level when someone can play it safe, but risks everything because it’s the RIGHT thing to do. THAT shows courage.

107. Vultan - December 18, 2011


Good point, Harry!

108. navamske - December 18, 2011

Here’s something I don’t understand about TSFS. When the characters are gathered at Kirk’s apartment and he tells them the Enterprise is to be decommissioned, Chekov says, “Vill ve get another ship?” “Ve”? Chekov was First Officer on the Reliant, whose captain (Terrell) died. Shouldn’t Chekov be next in line to be captain of whatever ship replaced the Reliant? (NCC-1864-A?) Maybe he elected to forgo a captaincy in order to stay with Kirk? This is what Sulu did, at least in the novelizations (not canon).

Also, while I’m on the subject, I’ve always been mystified as to what Kirk expected to find on Genesis. He didn’t know that the Genesis wave had reanimated Spock; he didn’t even know that Spock’s torpedo tube had “soft-landed.” He probably thought it burned up in the atmosphere. Sarek said, “You must bring them both to Mount Seleya.” What did Sarek and Kirk think Kirk was going to find on Genesis?

109. Red Dead Ryan - December 18, 2011

Buzz, Vultan, and Harry Ballz:

I agree with all of what you guys wrote about “The Search For Spock”.

The movie really hammers home the importance of the Kirk-Spock-McCoy trio, with Kirk not being the same without Spock. Dr. McCoy was allowed to shine in this movie, in more ways than the others, when he had to deal with Spock’s Katra inside his head.

I thought Robin Curtis played Saavik better than Kirstie Alley.

A few elements made their first appearance in this film which would become a staple of future Treks.

The Klingon Bird-Of-Prey, the Excelsior class ship, the Oberth class ship, Spacedock. All would appear in numerous future Trek episodes and movies.

The final scenes on Vulcan were a very nice, character-driven finish to the film, and a nice nod to “Amok Time” as well.

The music to the film is great too, with James Horner making it all fit with the score to TWOK as TSFS is a continuation of that film.

William Shatner had displayed some of his finest acting as Kirk not only in “The Wrath Of Khan”, but also in “The Search For Spock”.

110. navamske - December 18, 2011


And now “Amok Time” is a nice nod to TSFS, with the remastered scene of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy crossing that same rock bridge depicted in the movie. Continuity is good.

111. Red Dead Ryan - December 18, 2011


You make some good points. Though I doubt there was going to be a Reliant-A. :-)

Anyway, speaking of inconsistencies, why in the universe would Starfleet send out only ONE friggin’ unarmed science vessel to the Genesis planet if it was so strategically important? Wouldn’t there be at least four or five heavily armed ships patrolling the area on the lookout for Klingons?

Kind of similar to how Deep Space Nine had only three runabouts for the first two seasons of the show, and only after a Galaxy class ship was destroyed by the Jem’ Hadar in the Gamma Quadrant did Starfleet send an actual heavily armed ship to defend the station. And even then, Starfleet waited until AFTER Sisko retook the station from the Dominion to put additional ships out there. AFTER the Dominion War started.

Doesn’t take anything away from the film; its just another thing to think about. A lot of times in Trek, including the new movie, and minus “First Contact”, Earth is often threatened and no other ships are around except for the Enterprise.

I honestly don’t know where Starfleet sends or keeps all of its ships!

112. Vultan - December 18, 2011


It’s because the Grissom was the only ship in the quadrant! ;)

And not only was it a dinky, defenseless little ship, but it’s captain has to be the worst pencil-pushing, by-the-book bureaucrat ever put on screen. “Stand by for evasive.” Stand by? What are you standing by for, Esteban? RUN! It’s a friggin’ Klingon Bird-of-Prey! You don’t need permission from Starfleet! RUN FOR IT! Get help from the big starships, the one’s that workout at the gym. MOVE ALREADY!

113. Red Dead Ryan - December 18, 2011

Yeah, Captain Esteban was a total moron! Captain Harriman was too, though I suppose he might have been excused because he was following in the footsteps of a living legend, Captain Kirk, and was a bit on the young side. Esteban, on the other hand, at his age, should have had the balls to ignore Starfleet regulations and think about the safety of his ship and crew.

Now, to be fair, I suppose the Grissom would have still been destroyed if Esteban had decided to flee, but he should have at least tried.


The only time it looked cool was when the Pegasus was embedded inside an asteroid in the TNG episode “The Pegasus”!

114. Vultan - December 18, 2011


Yeah, totally agree.

I like to think Esteban had pulled some strings with the top brass and got himself a transfer from Starfleet Accounting into the field—because he wanted a little excitement before he retired. HA-ha!

Harriman on the other hand… I feel sorry for the guy. First he wrecks his dad’s Ferrari GT, then he ends up replacing Captain Kirk. Not only that, but then he takes a vacation to CA and ends up on a bus with a bomb on board! It’s no wonder he quit Starfleet and took that job in the New York City mayor’s office. Guy’s nerves must’ve been totally shot. ;)

115. Shunnabunich - December 18, 2011

@104: Just to correct myself, the voice for iOS is named Samantha, and is an optional, download-on-demand voice in Lion. It’s likely a pared-down version of the voice to conserve memory and CPU cycles, though; it sounds choppier on iOS compared to Lion, where the machine can afford to smooth out the phonemes and pitches more realistically.

116. Bren (Destructor!!!) - December 18, 2011

@ 71. Reliana:

I refer you to this:

117. Buzz Cagney - December 19, 2011

Good points above regarding TSFS. I particularly like Harry’s point about Kirk electing to take on the danger in order to help his friends.

The moment that is best demonstrated is when Stiles tells Kirk ‘do this and you’ll never sit in the Captains chair again’. Kirk considered that point, for all of 3 seconds, and the acceptance of that reality briefly flickered across his face before saying ‘Warp speed, Mr Sulu’. His mind was made up, though he clearly didn’t have any choice. He knew what he had to do. And nothing was going to stop him.

The team nailed that aspect of Kirk’s personality in Trek ’09 too. He didn’t stop to consider that jumping off the drill platform might be a bad idea! Over he went. More of that next time please, Bob. ;)

118. falcon - December 19, 2011

There are some comments on this thread about other Treknology like the tricorder. I seem to recall an article here on Trek Movie regarding a company that created a portable x-ray device that used Scotch tape and a vacuum to generate X-rays. (Here’s a link: There is now Siri, the first iteration of the Trek computer voice. Plus the iPad (PADD), the iPhone, and other examples of Trek-type technology. I think we’re headed in that direction, at least in terms of gadgets. Not nearly there in terms of space exploration, propulsion, or the other Trek plot elements.

And as far as Apple not nodding to Trek for its ideas: Why should they? Great minds sometimes think alike, but not often.

119. REALLY?? - December 19, 2011

OH, guess what??? No new news to report…AGAIN!!! YAY!!!! I have looked at Majel’s face for 4 days now!!!

120. AJ - December 19, 2011

Anyone frustrated with a lack of news (because, most likely, there is none to report) can go to the top of the screen and hit “live chat.”

While it is no longer “live,” current discussions have included Trek ship design and re-use, Grace Lee Whitney’s exit from TOS, general Christmas merriment, and whatever else you feel like talking about. Always a nice place to be when the news talkbacks get boring.

121. Red Dead Ryan - December 19, 2011

I watched TMP, TWOK and TSFS yesterday. Today, I’m going to watch “The Voyage Home”, “The Final Frontier”, and “The Undiscovered Country”.

One thing about TWOK, though, is that some of the composition effects work is flawed. I noticed that at different times during the movie, one can see stars THROUGH the Reliant, Enterprise, and the Genesis planet. The composition of images wasn’t very good. The visual effects, including the Mutara Nebula, the space battles, and the model shots still look great however.

But the compositioning of some of the shots of the Enterprise, Reliant and Genesis planet against the starry backdrop just wasn’t done as well as everything else had been.

Also, during a scene on the bridge of the Enterprise in TSFS, Chekov’s station featured a schematic of the TOS version of the ship! It’s during the scene where Chekov detects a strange presence in Spock’s quarters. You’ll know that its the TOS version because it has the round nacelle caps.

You’d think someone would have noticed, especially since TSFS was the third movie to feature the refit Enterprise!

122. rm10019 - December 19, 2011

121 those were lifted directly from the Franz Joseph blueprints…

123. Bob Tompkins - December 20, 2011

Apple has Siri, Google will have Majel seems like everyone has to play catch- up with Apple. I hope Apple remains the hare and the rest the running dogs. It’s worked out pretty well for 10 yeares…

124. SoonerDave - December 20, 2011

@121 You could also tell it was the TOS Enterprise on that screen from the straight engine support pylons, rather than the backswept pylons on the movie Enterprise….

I know the effects in the TOS-era movies were sometimes a little dicey, but I have to admit (even as a tech/computer geek) that the artistry in those effects, involving the creation of nearly perfect scale miniatures, the skill in the creation of the proper time-motion photography to create the illusion of mass, all to give the ships/planets/etc a sense of reality was a compelling art that’s been mostly lost in CGI.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the tech behind CGI and understand TWOK was at the forefront of it with the Genesis Planet sequence (created by what later became Pixar), but there was a creative genius in those models that will likely never be used again.

The book “Making of TWOK” had a whole section devoted to SFX, and has a photo of the ILM model team standing behind the Reliant model. Lot of pride of workmanship there!

125. rm10019 - December 20, 2011

125 – I think the Christies auction and others drove home the fact that these models are works of art, and appreciate in value as such. The move from models to CGI has been a major step, I think, in the visual art of story telling. We have lost something though, if there are only virtual models left from these great artists.

126. Buzz Cagney - December 20, 2011

RDR, I was also surprised at the flawed look of what I had previously considered to be good sfx in TSFS.
Never mind, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment at all.

127. Reliana - December 20, 2011

94, I agree with you completely. Science fiction is the force behind our science today, but I guess I’m one of those who believes that if something inspired your work, it’s only respectful to acknowledge that.

104, to pretend that it was completely your original idea is deceitful. Even more if you are trying to pass inspired work as your own creative genius to “seem” to stand out on your own for that work. Now if it was unintended, that’s a different story.

116, obviously they did have Star Trek on the brain, which only strengthens the point I made to 94 and 104. They knew, so not acknowledging their inspiration was not an oversight, I would think.

For me, I think Star Trek has had a HUGE impact on our culture and has never really been given the level of respect and acknowledgement it should have for its contributions. Pretending that Star Trek has no role in the technology it inspires strengthens the belief by many that Star Trek is only pop culture fluff.

128. Jeff O'Connor - December 20, 2011

So uh, I found this on io9 just now:

Star Trek 2
An inside source claims that Khan won’t be the villain of the movie, that the movie won’t actually have a traditional villain type at all, and instead focus on one of five characters from the classic series. Here’s the rundown:

It’s definitely a character that will make fans of TOS excited. Think along the lines of Harry Mudd or Trelane or Gary Mitchell or the Talosians or the Horta. Actually it’s one of those that I named.

As with all such claims, I’d take this with a grain of salt, but you can check out the link for a breakdown and some speculation. [Badass Digest]

Grain of salt to the max of course, but still a fun little read.

129. Jeff O'Connor - December 20, 2011

Oops, it didn’t copy/paste the link to the ‘source’ properly. My bad.

130. I'm Just Sayin' - December 20, 2011

129..I dig it. I would absolutely love to see Gary Mitchell in the mix. They could go far with a story like that. I could see how this would also bring Kirk, McCoy and Spock closer together as a result of the struggle.

131. John Tenuto - December 20, 2011

My thoughts are that it won’t be Gary Mitchell. Gary is featured in the new Star Trek comic book, which is considered canon and are “approved” by Bad Robot. Of course the bad guy is Khan, why else are the producers looking for Latino actors to replace Ricardo Montalban? It is fun to think about the possibilities!

132. Red Dead Ryan - December 20, 2011


Yeah, I agree with you about the models. Those were always well made, even during the TOS years. A lot of craftsmanship went into those. The CGI was great in the new movie, but it just isn’t quite the same. Plus it’s always fun to watch special features, or to look at photos featuring guys building the models.


The flaws didn’t stop me from enjoying TWOK or TSFS, but with my new TV, I just noticed them more than I did before.

But if something’s good, you love it, warts and all!


You’re a bit late reporting that, as that had been posted on this site months ago.

133. Vultan - December 20, 2011

I’m just going to ignore all “inside sources” at this point. We’ll all find out in good time.

On the plus side, “The Dark Knight Rises” trailer looks promising (and we definitely know who the villain is!).

134. Red Dead Ryan - December 20, 2011

I agree “The Dark Knight Rises” looks great! It’s the final Nolan/Bale “Batman” film.

135. Vultan - December 20, 2011


It does leave some important questions though: what does Bane have against football? Did he get cut from the team? ;)

Seriously though, anyone else get an Occupy Wall Street/Arab Spring vibe from the trailer? Nice to see Nolan isn’t afraid to tackle real-world issues… in a superhero movie.

Even better (and this goes back to the subject of special effects above) it’s nice to see REAL vehicles and REAL stunt men and REAL sets used in a summer blockbuster movie. CGI just doesn’t have the… soul.

136. Red Dead Ryan - December 20, 2011


Yeah, I did get that vibe as well. Interesting to see the football field collapse behind the running player.

As for the sets and vehicles, I believe that Nolan does indeed prefer to use physical ones whenever possible but he has used cgi in the previous films, such as the cityscape of Gotham, which is composed of bits of Hong Kong, and Chicago.

But I kind of get the sense that “The Avengers” will be the superhero movie that cleans up that the box office. It’s a bit more family-friendly, as to the more adult-oriented “The Dark Knight Rises”.

137. Let Them Eat Plomeek Soup - December 20, 2011

I would like to vote Nichelle Nichols as the next voice of the computer. There.

On the subject of Mrs. Roddenberry…

I just got Netflix a few weeks ago and started watching TNG and DS9 for the first time. Mainly the episodes with Lwaxana Troi. She’s actually a REALLY GOOD actress, which you couldn’t exactly see with Nurse Chapel. It’s kind of sad she wasn’t in much of anything else other than Star Trek.

99% of me is screaming, “YES, IT’S TRUE! KHAN IS GOING TO BE IN ST12!!! ACCEPT IT!!” I’m not sure if I should be happy or not… :/

138. Basement Blogger - December 20, 2011

@ 135


That’s Hines Ward scoring the TD. Maybe Bane was trying to kill him. Yeah, I hate Ward too. I keeed. I keeed.

Nolan took on the war on terror in 2008’s “Dark Knight.” Remember Batman’s hacking device and how he beat the daylights out of the Joker?
Let’s hope Star Trek 2013 also goes deeper, if not metaphor how about scientific for the Supreme Court’s writers.

139. Keachick - rose pinenut - December 20, 2011

#131 John Tenuto, do you know something we don’t?

Of course, the other issue could be – aren’t Latino actors capable of playing anyone else, except Khan who was of Indian descent?

140. Vultan - December 20, 2011


Either way, I think 2012 is going to be one helluva year in film.

As for Nolan’s use (or non-use) of CGI, I was referring more to computer animation than computer compositions. If it’s done in a subtle way, like with what you mentioned, CGI can be a great tool, but too many filmmakers seem to treat it as a crutch—a showy, cartoon thing to entice the kiddies to drag their parents to the box office. Star Wars prequels anyone? Transformers? Yeesh!

141. Vultan - December 20, 2011


I read that someone involved with the production of TDKR (a producer, I think) owns part of the Pittsburgh Steelers—hence their players showing up in the flick. Go figure.

142. John Tenuto - December 20, 2011

#139 Those are my suppositions. Unfortunately, I don’t know anymore than anyone else! However, I feel very confident in guessing that Gary Mitchell won’t be in the film as a main character as:

1) the comic book featuring him preceeds the film presumably
2) he is friends with Kirk at the start of the comic
3) the comic is considered canon and won’t conflict with the films based on all the information from those who produce the comics in interviews

The Khan comment is more spectulation. It would be respectful, I think, to keep some ethnic consistency with the casting of Khan. Of course, anyone could play Khan who is a talented actor, and he is Indian, however respect for the iconic portrayl by Montalban portends that a Latino actor may be considered. As all we have heard about actors playing the bad guy, who ever it is going to be, have been Latino actors, I think it is reasonable to think it could be Khan.

Of course, this all just what I think and is based on nothing more than my guessing. I could be completely wrong about it all and Gary Mitchell could be the bad guy, and Khan could not be in the film at all.

Thanks for reading!

143. Jeff O'Connor - December 21, 2011

To all those who pointed out how ancient the article I linked was: LOL, sorry. Blame io9 too, though. They had it in their ‘Morning Spoilers’ column… Whoops! is represented by Gorilla Nation. Please contact Gorilla Nation for ad rates, packages and general advertising information.