The ship's design is said to resemble the shape of a street lamp. However, the actual inspiration for the shape of the ship was a radar dish according to Nilo Rodis-Jamero, the assistant art director and visual effects creator on The Empire Strikes Back. Rodis-Jamero created the initial design after seeing Joe Johnston's ideas for Boba Fett and states that "the original design I had was round, but when you looked at it from the side, it became elliptical...George [Lucas] thought it was elliptical, so that's what it became." He goes on to say that "[w]hen building the ship at ILM, someone looked at the street lamps and pointed out that they looked like Boba's ship. So everyone began to think that was where I got the idea for the design." Its appearance in the original release of The Empire Strikes Back was realized by a combination of matte paintings and a 69-centimeter model.
Slave I is an antiquated Kuat Systems Engineering Firespray-interceptor-class ship; that was used by the Galactic Republic before it was stolen by Jango Fett. both Jango Fett and Boba Fett modified and upgraded the ship's engines, weapons, and defenses.