To help recover stolen ships or a password to "prefix" commands?Edit
Doesn't this page make a few assumptions?
Article says: "It is a defensive measure designed to help Starfleet personnel combat enemies who have seized control of a ship of their fleet"
But looking at the film:
KIRK: You have to learn why things work on a starship.
SPOCK: Each ship has its combination code.
KIRK: To prevent an enemy do what we're attempting. Using our console to order Reliant to lower her shields.
I always read this, together with the name "prefix code" (rather than "security code", "bypass code" etc), to mean that the code was a number sent by every console on the ship prefixing commands so that the system receiving the command knew that the command was authentic. Eg you press the "Fire phasers" button on console on the bridge. The console wirelessly transmits the command prefixing it with the number. The phaser banks receive the command and since it's prefixed with the correct prefix code number it obeys. (A bit like having a wifi password on a Router to make sure the router only interacts with authorised devices that know its password).
If that's the case then it would mean the prefix code is a code that's transmitted as part of day-to-day operation rather than only used when a ship's been stolen - and the former would fit with the "You have to learn why things work on a starship." phrase.
In the case of Khan, they were fooling the Reliant shield generators into thinking the "lower shields" command had come from Reliants bridge by sending the prefix code - Rather than suing a 'backdoor' code which is what the article currently suggests. 188.8.131.52 03:04, September 16, 2011 (UTC)
..and if it is "a defensive measure designed to help Starfleet personnel combat enemies who have seized control of a ship of their fleet" then it would not be changeable! Remember they worry in Khan that he might have changed it. If he could then it would be a pretty poor system for getting your ship back. The fact that whoever's in charge of the ship can change the code supports the idea it's got more in common with a wifi password than a ship-getter-backer. 184.108.40.206 03:17, September 16, 2011 (UTC)
- Well, here's the script info:
SAAVIK I don't understand -- Kirk puts on his spectacles -- KIRK You've got to learn WHY things work on a Starship. (to Khan) It's coming through now, Khan... SPOCK (descends) The prefix code is 16309. All commands from each Starship bridge are relayed electronically; each ship has its own prefix combination code... KHAN Thirty seconds... KIRK ... to prevent an enemy from doing just what we're attempting; using our console to tap in a message, an order to lower Reliant's damn shields... SPOCK (at the weapons console) Let's hope he hasn't changed the combination. He's quite intelligent... KIRK (grim) Wait for my signal, Spock -- too soon and he'll have time to figure it out and raise them again.