Zefram Cochrane

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Early career[edit]

Doctor Zefram Cochrane
Zefram Cochrane

Doctor Zefram Cochrane was a Human scientist in the 21st century. An eccentric genius, he was the inventor of warp drive on Earth, and was the first Human to travel faster than light.


Cochrane was born in 2032. During the 2060s, he lived in Bozeman, Montana in North America, where he and his team of engineers began developing warp drive and finally built Earth's first warp ship, the Phoenix. After Cochrane's historic first warp flight on April 5, 2063, the Vulcans established first contact with Humanity, thereby ushering in a new era of prosperity for mankind. (Star Trek: First Contact)

In 2064, Cochrane mentioned details about that first contact in Bozeman, in a commencement address at Princeton University, and that it involved "a group of cybernetic creatures from the future." Cochrane's cryptic remark referred to the involvement of the 24th century Federation starship USS Enterprise-E and a Borg sphere, both of which had traveled back in time. The Borg tried to prevent first contact in order to assimilate Earth in the past, but they were eventually stopped by the crew of the Enterprise. However, Cochrane's remarks were largely shrugged off by his audience as a result of his tendency toward intoxication, and Cochrane later discounted his own statements. (Star Trek: First Contact; ENT: "Regeneration") Zefram Cochrane in 2119.

Later, Cochrane worked closely with Henry Archer on the warp five engine. In 2119, he officially opened the Warp Five Complex on Earth. During this speech, Cochrane coined many phrases that would be used by Starfleet for generations to come, including "where no man has gone before." (ENT: "Broken Bow") Later that year, he left his new home on Alpha Centauri colony for an unknown destination, and was later presumed dead. (TOS: "Metamorphosis")

When the Enterprise NX-01 discovered a mysterious small craft adrift in space with one dead occupant, Captain Jonathan Archer wondered if it could be the long-lost Cochrane. (ENT: "Future Tense")

The portrayal of Cochrane in First Contact and Enterprise is somewhat at odds with "Metamorphosis". In the TOS episode, Cochrane is described as "Zefram Cochrane of Alpha Centauri". While this does not necessarily suggest Cochrane originated from Alpha Centauri (just as Lawrence of Arabia was not from Arabia), many took this to mean he was in fact a native of that world. In First Contact, however, he has clearly never left Earth. There was also an apparent age inconsistency. See Background for more information.

In 2267, Captain James T. Kirk, Commander Spock, and Dr. Leonard McCoy of the USS Enterprise were ferrying the terminally-ill Federation commissioner Nancy Hedford aboard the shuttlecraft Galileo when they were mysteriously brought down on an asteroid in the Gamma Canaris region. There, they discovered Cochrane alive and living with a cloud-like entity called the Companion, which had kept him young and alive over the past 150 years. The Companion later entered the body of Hedford, and she and Cochrane began a new life on the asteroid, now with a typical Human lifespan. Cochrane had Kirk promise never to reveal the events surrounding their encounter. (TOS: "Metamorphosis")

Cochrane's reaction in "Metamorphosis" does support the fact he knew of the Vulcans before he left, but also suggests he didn't know them very well.

Personal life and legacy[edit]

Zefram Cochrane did not have a grand vision of ushering in a new era for mankind and of endowing Earth with the gift of warp technology; these are qualities which were merely ascribed to him by later generations.

In fact, Cochrane developed warp technology primarily for the money, as he was interested in nothing more than a simple life filled with pleasures like "naked women" and rock and roll. He actually had an intense dislike for air and space travel and preferred taking trains.

One of Cochrane's good friends was Lily Sloane, whom he knew since the Third World War. She nicknamed him "Z". Among Cochrane's favorite songs included "Ooby Dooby" by Roy Orbison, and "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf. (Star Trek: First Contact) His favorite food was cheese pierogies. (VOY: "Homestead")

As the crew of the Enterprise-E confronted him in 2063 with his future image as herald of a better world, Cochrane refused to accept this new role. After Geordi La Forge told him about the statue of Cochrane which would be built in Bozeman, Cochrane took refuge in his addiction to alcohol and also initially attempted to literally flee from his destiny. However, he later was able to accommodate history's judgment of the importance of his actions, stating, "Don't try to be a great man; just be a man and let history make its own judgments." (Star Trek: First Contact)

The cochrane, a unit of measure of subspace distortion, was named after Zefram Cochrane. Planets, great universities, cities, and the USS Cochrane were also named in his honor, as was the shuttlecraft Cochrane on the USS Voyager. (TOS: "Metamorphosis"; DS9: "Emissary"; VOY: "Threshold")