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Master systems display

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MSD video monitor
A video feed on the USS Enterprise-D's MSD

On Federation starships and space stations, the master systems display (abbreviated MSD), also known as the master situation monitor, or master situational display, was a large, wall-mounted computer display, sometimes in engineering or the bridge. The display usually featured a large cutaway diagram of the vessel, and was used to provide a detailed overview of the ship's operational status.

The USS Enterprise-D had its master systems display in engineering, along with a master systems display table, while the starships USS Voyager, USS Defiant, USS Hathaway, USS Equinox, USS Enterprise-B, and USS Enterprise-E all featured their displays on the bridge. (Star Trek Generations; Star Trek: The Next Generation, TNG: "Peak Performance"; DS9: "The Search, Part I", etc.; Star Trek: Voyager, VOY: "Equinox", "Equinox, Part II")

Appendices Edit

Background information Edit

Galaxy engineering1
Master systems display in the foreground and Master situation monitor in the back as originally intended
USS Excelsior Master Situation bridge station Major kira fighting off the Jem'Hadar in front of Defiant's MSD
Master situation bridge station
Firefight in front of Defiant's MSD

Originally, Scenic Art Supervisor Michael Okuda intended the "Master systems display" and the "Master situation monitor" to be two different objects altogether. According to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual (pp. 47-48) and the Star Trek Encyclopedia (3rd ed., pp. 291-292), the "Master systems display" was the information console (affectionately dubbed the "pool table") seen in main engineering on board the USS Enterprise-D, USS Enterprise-E, and in the back of the bridge on the Enterprise NX-01. The "Master situation monitor" was meant to refer to the wall mounted back-lit (cut-away) graphics of the ships in question. Neither of the two designations were initially seen on-screen in their entirety, though there were "Master situation" bridge work stations on both the USS Excelsior and USS Enterprise-A in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (and, in Excelsior's case, in "Flashback" as well).

None of the wall-mounted graphics ever had a caption "Master systems display" until Scenic Artist Doug Drexler updated the cut-away graphic for the Defiant-class. Drexler gave it the caption "master systems display", which is legible in "Shattered Mirror" and "One Little Ship". This was the only such graphic ever to actually carry the exact designation, as every other MSD, featured in the live-action franchise, was usually labeled with the ship's name, registry, ship class, random numbering or any combination thereof.

Graphic situated next to the bridge turbolift Constitution class schematics
The earliest operations graphic
A Constitution-class operations schematic

The first MSD was created for the sets of the Enterprise-D. According to the Encyclopedia (3rd ed., p. 291), it included a number of in-jokes, including "the official USS Enterprise duck, the ship's mouse, a Porsche, a DC-3 airplane, the Nomad space probe, and the hamster on a treadmill that was alleged to be the true source of power for the ship's warp engines."

The MSD terminology, regardless of its original intent, was specifically introduced in The Next Generation, though operations graphics displaying similar properties, had been featured in prior Star Trek incarnations, including Star Trek: The Original Series, though up until that point in time they were not endowed with a designation. The earliest and best known such graphic was the large rudimentary graphic situated on the bulkhead right next to the turbolift doors on the bridge (on the left when entering the lift from the bridge) of the original Constitution-class USS Enterprise. A detailed operation schematics graphic, still unnamed, of the Constitution-class USS Defiant was later seen in "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II".

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