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Richard Daystrom

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Richard Daystrom

Gender: Male
Species: Human
Affiliation: United Federation of Planets
Occupation: Scientist
Status: Alive (2268)
Born: 2219
Played by: William Marshall

Doctor Richard Daystrom was one of the most influential Human scientists of the 23rd century. Daystrom, who was born in 2219, was considered a genius in his day, and was compared to such minds as Albert Einstein, Kazanga and Sitar of Vulcan.

In 2243, at 24, Daystrom made the duotronic breakthrough that won him the Nobel and Zee-Magnees Prizes. However, he felt underappreciated by his peers and successors, and resented them for developing improvements based on his work, while he was in essence left behind.

In response, he devoted his full vigor to the development of the multitronic computer system to create a successful artificial intelligence. This culminated in the M-5, a computer system sophisticated enough to smoothly control a starship by itself, possibly precluding the need for organic crews.

In 2268, during the test run with the system on the USS Enterprise, the M-5 started displaying erratic and violent behavior. This included seizing control of nonessential systems, attacking the freighter, Woden, without provocation, reacting to war games with other starships with full strength attacks, jeopardizing 1,600 lives, and resisting efforts to be disconnected.

It was revealed that Daystrom's programming of the system used his own personality engrams as a model for the computer's personality, which included his psychological problems. Unfortunately, Daystrom was mentally unstable and had a nervous breakdown aboard the Enterprise that required him to be subdued, while M-5 was convinced that the deaths it caused required it to commit suicide. Dr. Daystrom was committed to a mental rehabilitation facility in 2268 after the incident. (TOS: "The Ultimate Computer")

None of this appeared to have much impact on the esteem granted Daystrom and his work. The Daystrom Institute, one of the most prominent Federation research centers, was named after him, as was the Daystrom Award. (TNG: "The Measure Of A Man")

A biography and photo of him was present in the USS Enterprise-D's library computer. (TNG: "The Big Goodbye")

Background

Richard Daystrom was played by William Marshall.

According to the Star Trek Encyclopedia, "In an early draft of "Booby Trap", Leah Brahms was named Navid Daystrom, presumably a descendant of Doctor Richard Daystrom. Unfortunately, the casting department did not realize that this would require a Black actress to play the part until after Susan Gibney had been hired. At the suggestion of script coordinator Eric Stillwell, the character was renamed, but the Daystrom tie-in was kept by adding a line that she had graduated from the Daystrom Institute."

The "Who's Who in Star Trek 1" from DC Comics puts his birthplace as Göteborg (also known as Gothenburg), Sweden.

In the "The Big Goodbye", an illustration of Richard Daystrom was seen when Data was assimilating the Dixon Hill novels. This illustration was from the FASA RPG module The Federation.

Apocrypha

Daystrom appears in the novel The Rift by Peter David, as one of the Federation scientists accompanying Kirk on an embassy to the reclusive and advanced Caligar race. He confides that, although many consider his intellect to be undiminished, his confidence has deserted him, making him incapable of any new ideas. In the epilogue to the novel, however, Daystrom combines observations of the Caligar's technology with his previously discarded M5 research, to produce the forerunner of the 24th century holodeck.

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