Talk:Replicator (Star Trek)

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Problem with description[edit]

The section on replicator theory needs revision. As it stands now:

The first paragraph does not accurately describe the underlying process of the replicator. It does not rely on the rearrangment of subatomic particles. It does not create quantities of elemental molecules and then rearrange them chemically. Computer power has little to do with the situation, and speculating on the technology levels of the 24th century are beside the point in an article on a fictional technology.

Basically, the replicator is a small transporter pad. It is a special application of Transporter technology that basically beams matter from one location to another, but instead of bothering to duplicate it, substitutes a pre-scanned pattern.

Bulk matter is not stored at the replicator, it is stored at a centralized location on ship or station- which is then converted to energy, transferred to the required terminal, where the energy is converted to matter. There aren't any chemical reactions, the entire mass is made as a unit, straight down to molecular resolution. While replicators certainly CAN create elemental matter, it's certainly not exclusively so.

Chemical and subatomic manipulation is a hallmark of the protein synthesis used prior to the development of true replicators. The first paragraph needs serious revision or removal. --Alexwcovington (talk) 21:41, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I support that. This paragraph is very wrong and needs heavy rework done.

According to the description in the TM the replicator is basically a very low resolution transporter and does not do any subatomic rearrangements or quantum level actions, but only on molecular level. For food it uses an organic suspension as raw material, not some particles from space. For non-food there are other bulks of raw material stored in the ship. --

Well, if it's wrong, then fine. But I must say that I did not pull that explanation out of a hat. It had been used to describe the replicator (I read it in a sci-fi magazine). It's relatively old though, and it might have been prior to Okuda's more precise definition of how a replicator would work. We musn't loose sight that this is a fictional technology, and as such there's no actual way through which it "works", it is the figment of someone's imagination. Even the creators of the show change their minds about some pieces of technology introduced (vis a vis the sonic shower), so theoretically tomorrow someone could come up and say that the replicator actually works in some other completely different fashion (retroactive continuity, as was done with the warp speeds, which were ilimited in the original series, but were scaled from 1 to 10 as of the Next Generation). Perhaps we could make a note of all of that, informing that the explanation about how the replicator work has changed from "such" to "such", or something along that line. You see, in this case I don't see "right" and "wrong", but simply a question of versions. Regards, Redux 17:01, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I changed "subatomic particles" to atoms in the article. On second thought, I think I'll bow out of this discussion for lack of expertise on fictional replicators. I will say that atoms form molecules, not subatomic particles, so that part defintely needs revising in the way it reads. 5Q5 (talk) 16:25, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

23rd century[edit]

Is it true that Kirk's Enterprise had no replicators? What were they using in Tomorrow is Yesterday, then? Chicken soup appears out of nowhere. Adam Bishop 00:49, 29 May 2005 (UTC)

We cannot get ahead of ourselves. The hard fact is that replicators were "invented" by the people involved with TNG. No one in the 60's had any ideas about it (or if they did, they didn't get them in the show, which pretty much means that they don't count as far the official Star Trek timeline is concerned). Food in the original Enterprise came from "food dispensers", which, as far as we can tell, came from the kitchen via some sort of lift or some other form of transportation. Plot holes are exactly what they are: plot holes. I don't recall this particular episode entirely (not this part about the food), but the most likely of events is that the production crew placed the soup in the set without the screenplay providing an origin for its presence. If the source of chicken soup or any other food is not explained in any given episode of the Original Series, the writers of that show are to blame, but we cannot infer retroactive continuity from it, especially when one considers the deliberate effort that was made during the conception of TNG to suggest technological leaps that would have occurred over the 8 decades that sepparate the timelines of both shows. Regards, Redux 20:08, 29 May 2005 (UTC)

Redux, I don't understand how Adam Bishop is "getting ahead of ourselves" by referring to canon events, nor how those events can be dismissed as plot holes. To explain away original series technology that seems in all respects identical to replicator technology as the actions of the production crew would be the same thing as explaining away replicators in the 24th Century as nothing more than special effects. I think Mr. Bishop's reference to the sudden chicken soup is legitimate; it is not something the 60s writers overlooked, as in "where did that chicken soup come from?" it was something deliberately introduced as an example of 23rd Century technology. The fact that some users may not remember this particular incident, or others like it, does not change the fact that those incidents -- meaning uses of replicator technology -- were explicity used in the original series.

But that would overlook a particularity of the Star Trek franchise: it started with a tv show from the 60's, then there was a 18-year gap between that and the first franchise, TNG. In this period, the [real] world changed considerably, and that affects our perception of what the future might look like. We can be certain that there were no replicators in the storyline of the Original Series for that very simple reason: it didn't cross anybody's mind back when the show was produced. When replicators were "invented" by the people involved with TNG, the original show was over 20 years old, so it would be uncyclopedic to start referencing to either small mistakes made by the production crew or merely things for which the show didn't offer any explanation (because that wasn't really the focus of production then — they didn't have Michael Okuda) and infer retroactive continuity. "Infer" is key here: Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, it is not our place to assume or reflect fan speculation as if it was fact. I'm not aware of any direct retroactive continuity that has ever suggested that there were replicators onboard the original Enterprise. And if such a retcon is ever done, we'd still be obliged to recognize that this was retroactive continuity, that originally there were no replicators on the original Enterprise for the factual reasons I've explained.
Incidentally, that is why I've reverted your changes in the opening paragraph. The version we have now reflects that replicators were created for TNG, and given the Star Trek timeline (80 years separating the OS from TNG and the real world gap between the two), it is arguable that replicators did not exist in the 23rd century (timeframe of the OS), but we acknowledge that "Enterprise" has retconned that in one of its episodes — which is referred not as an example, but rather as the specific episode in which the retcon occurred (still, within the show's universe, the retcon indicates that some other species had replicators as early as the 22nd century, but there's no mention that Starfleet or the Federation might have acquired the technology by the 23rd century. What we know for sure is that they had it in the 24th century and that's what the encyclopedia has to stick to).
Finally, I've just seen that you rewrote the opening paragraph again. I'm sorry, but I'll have to revert it again. Please understand that fan speculation is not encyclopedic material. We are sticking to the facts: replicators were created somewhere around 1986 and 1987, for TNG. They did not exist in the fictional timeline before the 24th century until the relative retcon from "Dead Stop". That's what we are acknowledging in the article. You may want to start a new subheader to discuss fandom interpretation of the series and the retcons done, but the paragraph in question has to remain factual. Regards, Redux 19:02, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Redux, you repeatedly refer to allusions to canon events as fan speculation, which doesn't make any sense at all. Your insistence that the idea of replicators "didn't cross anybody's mind back when the show was produced" is OBJECTIVELY disproven by the fact that the technology WAS featured in several original series episodes, so obviously somebody had to think of it back then. Your logic that technology in the "Star Trek" universe must have advanced in the decades that passed between the settings of the two series is legitimate, but your logic that references to specific episodes do not have any place in an encyclopedic entry is highly faulty; that's all we have to go on. Reference to specific incidents is not inference or speculation, it's simple observation. I have attempted the latest revision to reflect your beliefs without ignoring these plain facts. If you still think that Mr. Bishop's and my own references to explicit events in the series are nothing more than speculation, I would request that you ask another editor to settle the dispute.

No, it was not featured in the OS episodes. That's because it was invented for TNG. One must bear in mind that OS episodes are anywhere between 18 to 24 years older than those from TNG. Any alleged reference to replicators in the OS comes from present interpretation done in light of what was introduced in TNG and the other Star Trek franchise titles. In a way, that's retcon. What we see in the OS is food coming from that window that slides open in the mess hall. That is not a replicator, no one would have assumed that before TNG. There's a difference between canon episodes and what people tend to infer from canon episodes in light of later productions. The problem is that what people (meaning fans) infer doesn't count in an encyclopedia. That is not to say that the article can't feature that sort of interpretation, but it has to be done with no margin for misunderstandings. It has to be clear that we are talking about speculative interpretation in light of modern revisits, but that what was actually done or what actually was happening was this and that. That is why I suggested the new subheader to discuss fandom reinterpretation. This has been done in other articles (not necessarily a new subheader, but a separate discussion, after what is factual has been exposed). You see, it is not just that technology in the fictional Star Trek universe evolved in the 80 years separating the timeframes of TNG and the OS, it is also, and perhaps most importantly, that our (the real people's) world changed considerably, and with it our views of what the future can look like. As an encyclopedia, we still have to account for the original ideas that guided the OS. Replicators and, as other examples, talking computers, Holodecks and others were not in it. As an encyclopedia, we cannot seize inconsistencies, plot holes or unexplained aspects from the OS to claim that they actually had all those things in the original Enterprise. They didn't. And, because this is an encyclopedia, retcon has to be relativized: what was done was that, but this later show retconned in this aspect, suggesting this and that. And we do not go beyond what was directly suggested, such as assuming and stating that the original Enterprise had replicators because a retcon done 35 years after the OS was cancelled suggested that someone else had the technology as early as the 22nd century. Regards, Redux 19:37, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I haven't actually seen much of any of TOS so I can't really pick a side here. Though, if something isn't explained sufficiently to *know* it's replicator technology, then it's an assumption to say it is a replicator. Cburnett 21:03, Jun 21, 2005 (UTC)
Thank you. That's the very core of what I'm trying to get across. If no one said "that was a replicator", than it's speculation, people assuming that there was a replicator behind the sliding door. A serious encyclopedia cannot report that as if it were fact, and neither can it have the article worded like a fandom page, saying that "fans discuss whether or not 'food dispensers' were actually replicators". And regardless of the TOS plot, I believe it is common knowledge that a lot of the stuff shown in TNG was really created for that show, meaning 18 years after TOS had been cancelled. If someone retcons it, that will continue to be just retcon. It can be acknowledged, but we must still reflect the zeitgeist, so to speak, meaning: what was actually going on when that tv show was being produced. There were no replicators in it. Making a show over 30 years later does not change the historical fact. In other fictional universes, people sometimes end up discarding retcons later, so this is, after all, relative. The original paragraph acknowledges the real world timeline of the replicator (created for TNG) and the repercussions it has in the TOS timeline, and finally even acknowledges the retcon performed in "Enterprise". That's objective, factual and accurate. Regards, Redux 01:43, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Adam Bishop is right. Redux is splitting hairs - particularly since the article mentions TOS only created "Colored cubes." TOS had technology to at least create sandwiches and beverages. This article should be turned over to another editor with less of an agenda to push. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2604:6000:E48B:B600:DC07:8C0:8CAE:EF18 (talk) 03:15, 30 August 2019 (UTC)

The discussion renewed[edit]

21:22, 30 September 2005 Redux m (Rv. unwarranted removal of data.)

Sorry. Didn't see that a lengthy discussion had already been taking place. I still disagree however with:
  • given the Star Trek timeline (80 years separating the OS from TNG and the real world gap between the two), it is arguable that replicators did not exist in the 23rd century (timeframe of the OS) -- Redux, above.
Why is it arguable? Does the series explicitly state that replicators don't exist? Since the writers didn't know about it, obviously not. However this is meta-information. In the Trek Universe itself are no Trek writers (Except for that DS-9 episode), so the lack of mentioning of something doesn't mean it doesn't exist (xor does exist). Some alien races have always (on Trek) had more advanced technology. I would agree with something like:
  • being nonexistent on The Original Series (and arguably, in the 23rd century Federation, ...
I even more strongly disagree with the although. It was a soft retcon, one that did not conflict with continuity. (Because the OS does not explicitly deny the existence, because the writers hadn't invented it yet).
I propose removing this unwarrented data from the beginning of the article, and maybe replace it with something more deep and nuanced further down in the article. -- Zanaq 22:03, 30 September 2005 (UTC)
First of all, if you would like to refer to an older discussion (not exactly ongoing, as the timestamps show), then refer to it, or quote the entire thing. Partial reproductions often take statements out of context, as it would seem happened here.
Now, about this discussion, it's the exact same old thing that just seems to come up again and again. The passage in the article refers to the "real life" construction of Star Trek, it does not consider "plot twists" (for lack of a better way of saying this). Quite simply: replicators did not exist in the OS because no one in the '60s thought about it, not because the Federation had not yet made contact with the species that posessed the technology then. The timeline contructed across the different shows places the OS in the 23rd century and the subsequent installments (with the exception of "Enterprise") in the 24th century. And there's the, again, "real life" noted intentions of the creators of [particularly] TNG to display a clear gap of time and the technological evolution that society would experience in said period of time, which prompted several new fictional pieces of technology to be created for that show (and later repeated in other installments of the franchise). Therefore, replicators do not exist in the OS, and given the Star Trek timeline across the shows, nor do they exist in the 23rd century. That's what the paragraph acknowledges. It also acknowledges, as written by another user, the retcon done in an episode of "Enterprise". But retcons are a different matter. They do not change the fact that replicators were only "invented" for TNG, that is, some 20 years after the original show (and, in its timeline, the 23rd century, had happened). What a show "clearly states" is of relative significance, since anything that is said could be unsaid in a retcon — so what if someone once said explictly: "replicators were invented in the 24th century", if some writer will come up with a plot for an episode 10 years later and say "you know what, it was all a big cover-up, in fact some other species had that technology as early as the 22nd century". That is why the article, notably in its opening part, does not consider the fictional universe retconned again and again by the writers over the 18 years between TNG and "Enterprise" — it says, in brief, "what happened was "this", although later a retcon was done to state "that". We take into account what was created in actuality, in this case in reference to the replicator.
I don't think anyone would have questioned the "birth" or the replicator in the fictional 24th century of TNG if some writer had not retconned it almost 18 years later to suggest that it could have existed as early as the 22nd century — apart from a segment of the fandom that thrives on speculating on perceived inconsistencies of a 30-year-old tv show in light of recent spinoffs, sequels and prequels. A deeper analysis of the fictional universe, as it "exists" today, after any retcons, might actually be interesting, but not in the opening segment of the article (maybe a new section?), and its creation would not warrant the deletion of what is written there, also because (but not limited to) these are two separate issues. Regards, Redux 06:33, 1 October 2005 (UTC)
Wow, that's a lengthy text, thanks Redux, for taking the time to try and address my issues. However...
  • Redux just repeats arguments said above in the old discussion. I attempted to deal with those arguments, but Redux fails to address most of my points.
  • replicators did not exist in the OS because no one in the '60s thought about it -- redux quoted again. (out of context? Just the part that seems relevant!)
That is almost literally what I said in my argument. but I added: Real life facts are NOT canon, as some old discussion participants argue.
  • it's the exact same old thing that just seems to come up again and again. -- redux, out of context.
This means it is a controversial fact. Tag it as disputed or remove it!!!
  • And there's the, again, "real life" noted intentions of the creators of [particularly] TNG to display a clear gap of time and the technological evolution that society would experience in said period of time. -- Redux, totally rehashed and mis-represented.
Real life facts are NOT canon. If Beverly Crusher is replaced by Dr. Pulaski that is NOT because the show's producers were able to convince Gene Roddenberry that the character of Dr. Crusher was not developing well. [1] but because of the reasons stated in the show, namely because crusher becomes head of starfleet medical. [2].
Repeated for clarity: Extra-screenular events are NOT canon. only whats shown on the screen is canon. Sometimes there are exceptions. see Star Trek canon, but generally things not mentioned on the show are not canon.
Even if Redux is right, he seems to be the only one that knows it. If someone agrees with redux, let him please speak up. I agree largely with the un-comment-signing user above, who asserts that canon and real life facts should not be mixed up. At least a disputed tag should be added, but I still propose taking it out of the intro.
(side note: It is difficult writing about fictional events and keeping the meta-info and the meta-meta-info clearly separated)
Please adress my points. some may be a bit difficult, but if there are questions or concerns I'll be glad to address them. -- Zanaq 09:54, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

Apparently, you missed my point. Discussing plot lines is, as I said, besides the point for this particular segment. This article is not about an episode, and also not about the plots developed using the replicator in it, although, as I said, this could be approached elsewhere in the article. Talking about what is canon in the show goes right back to discussing retcons and details of the storytelling itself, which is not what that part of the article is about: we are describing a piece of fictional technology that was created as part of the background for Star Trek back when TNG was conceived, and the article states how it was originally inserted in the timeline: the 24th century. Sure it's been retconned, and sure the retcon counts as canon and is to be taken into account when discussing the plots of episodes, etc. But what I'm saying is that, for that particular section, this is besides the point.
And yes, this point has been brought up before, and it was eventually dropped every time. There's a large number of Star Trek fans out there, and they tend to think of the article as having to tell the story of the replicator as it was developed within the fictional universe, that is, disregarding what happened originally and describing canon retcon as the "truth". Problem is: this is not what needs to be done there. Again, this is not to say that it can't be done at all in the article, but it shouldn't be done in the opening section, and its inclusion does not mean that the current text would need to be removed/replaced. I've suggested to other users that they should write a new section in the article, explaining the present History of the replicator as described in the Star Trek storytelling system — that would be the appropriate venue to state that the replicator was present in the 22nd century, that the Federation didn't have it until the 24th century, etc., since those are plot elements, that should be in the article (but not to the detriment of the "real life" historical development of events). No one cared enough to actually write the section.
Let me use your own example as a basis for one of my own: if this article was about a Star Trek character, which was replaced in the show because the actor who played the character died (a little dramatic, but bear with me), we, as an encyclopedia (and not a Star Trek wiki), would have to have our article read something like: John Doe was the chief medical officer on board Enterprise, but when Whats-his-name, who played the character, died in 19XX, the writers removed the character from the story, by having him transferred to another starship. That would be in the opening section of the article, which could not read: John Doe was the chief medical officer on Enterprise who was transferred to another starship after three years. Notice that in this example, the "real life" event would be the untimely death of the actor who played the character. This absolutely has to be acknowledged in the opening section of the article. The plot change made to accommodate the needs of the storytelling (that they wouldn't be able to show that character anymore) has to be told in perspective. But then, we could have another section in the article, about the character's story arc, where we would talk about him from the storytelling perspective, saying stuff like John Doe was the chief medical officer on board Enterprise for three years, until he was transferred to another spaceship, where he served for the rest of his career, until he was killed by a Klingon Bird of Pray during a hostile standoff. And imagine that the character's death at the hand of the Klingons could have been inserted in the storytelling years after the actor's death, and done in another show, while making references to the characters of the previous shows. It doesn't matter from the perspective of the storytelling, since it's canon, or because no one had "clearly said" that the character had lived or died after leaving Enterprise, so we could assume either way, etc. But you see, this is a completely different issue.
Sorry, long post again. This actually makes it that much more difficult to make the point clearly. Maybe the example helped? And please, do try to assume good faith. Regards, Redux 19:15, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

Humm, maybe this entire thing could be solved with a simple rewording? Perhaps the controversy is coming from the way the sentence is written. Maybe if we had it read something like: As originally created for TNG, the replicator would have been invented in the 24th century, being nonexistent on TOS (and the 23rd century). The history of the device has been retconned since, by ST:ENT, to state that it existed as early as the 22nd century. That would be in keeping with the general spirit in which the creators of TNG conceived the replicator, probably sometime between 1985 and 1987, for the fictional 24th century that was to be depicted on TNG, as one of the new technologies that would have come into existence during the time gap suggested between TOS and TNG. Again: the intention was not to suggest that replicators existed in TOS (23rd century), it was to be something new. This may have been retconned in the official storytelling, but, from an encyclopedic point of view, this needs to be put in perspective. Regards, Redux 20:04, 1 October 2005 (UTC)
Thanks again, and I do assume your faith is good, though I think It may be slightly incorrect.
I agree with almost everything in your post of 19:15, 1 October 2005 (UTC), and your rewording is much closer to the "truth". It removes arguably and replaces it with something more specific. However, the mentioning of centuries refers to events in the series and does have everything to do with canon, and confuses matters. Star trek probably states on the show that not everything has been seen or discovered. (I have not seen much of TOS).
I reworded your rewording, with my comments - which should obviously not be in the article - between brackets.
  • As originally created for TNG, replicators have first been seen in the 24th century [because invented in the 24th century clearly refers to the show. We mean invented by the writers. Not by star trek characters in the 24th century], being nonexistent on TOS (and it's [as nonexistent refers to real-life events...] 23rd century [...and 23td century refers to the series, it should be made clear that it is the 23rd century as depicted on that show]). The history of the device has been retconned since by ST:ENT, to state that it is known [exists is such a strong word] as early as the 22nd century [possibly, but not necessarily add:], which has become [Star trek canon|canon].
I propose we try to streamline the wording even further, insert it in the article, close this dispute and remove the {{dubious}} tag. -- Zanaq 09:36, 2 October 2005 (UTC)

Before commenting on this, let me start with something else in the article: we do not insert links in the middle of the article to discussions on the talk page. We sometimes do tag the article for issues that might be going on, and those tags contain links to the talk page some of the times, but that's only even done for extreme situations, usually when edit wars or other grave things are happening in the article, which has not been the case here. We are approaching a reasonable resolution, and the article's integrity was never at stake. But a link in the middle of the text, that we don't do — it's not the same as tagging, as with a "regular" tag. I'll remove it again.
Now, about the rewording, first a technicality: I used them myself to save time here on the talk page, but on the article we cannot use abbreviations for the shows, such as "TNG" or "TOS" or "ST:ENT". Just a heads up, since we are so used to applying those terms that we might forget that a lot of people will have no clue to what they mean (and it would be poor encyclopedic practice, anyways).
On to the rewording. About the centuries, yes it refers to canon, but it's done from a "real world" perspective, that is, we are not describing final canon (how it stands after the official retcons, etc., which would be suited for that new section), but rather how the story was constructed by the real people responsible for it. So, we'd say replicators were originally invented in the 24th century, being nonexistent (...), that's in reference to, as I mentioned before, the known fact that the new gadgets introduced in TNG were part of the effort to distinguish it from TOS, and mark the 80 years that had passed between both storylines. The zeitgeist seems to have been clearly to have the replicator (and other machines) be a 24th century invention. Then, of course, some of those things became rather popular, and there's the fact that there had been at least one Star Trek franchise in production between 1987 and 2005, which of course gives writers plenty of time to retcon stuff beyond recognition. Through those retcons, they have erased the original "time placement" of the replicator, with, for instance, the mention to its existing in the 22nd century, etc. Our accuracy lies in recognizing the original outline of the replicator (a machine that would have been invented in the 24th century proposed by TNG) and the fact that it has been altered at a later time (which differs, as per my previous comment, from saying something like replicators were present in the 22nd century, but the Federation didn't have it (...), which would be a statement "from within the storytelling" — again, for that other section). If we start eliminating the references to the original ideas because they (of course) contradict the recent retcons, we are, for all practical purposes, only reflecting the retcons from a point of view of the storylines.
In my proposal for rewording, it says As originally created for TNG, the replicator would have been invented in the 24th century, being nonexistent on TOS (and the 23rd century). (...). That would seem to reflect this reality, because it states the original construction of the story by those responsible for it: the replicator (like other gadgets), was originally conceived to be a technological leap made during the gap of 80 years. Maybe we could improve the wording, but I don't think that the reference to its being a 24th century invention according to the original idea, which was done for the TNG show (we're not saying simply that the replicator was invented in the 24th century because that's the storyline of the show).
And I think that we can use the word 'exists', since that ST:ENT episode shows a working replicator in the 22nd century (it wasn't just a scientist working on a project using the concept). I'll stop now, before this gets too long. Also, I'll be on a wikibreak as of tomorrow, so if we can't resolve this now, you could do the rewording as we have it so far, I'll get back to it as soon as I return. Regards, Redux 15:36, 2 October 2005 (UTC)

Hi Redux, I hope you (will) enjoy(ed) your wikibriki, and don't return finding a complete mess.
compare the following sentences:
  1. Dr. Pulaski did not exist in season one.
  2. Dr. Pulaski did not exist before 2365.
  3. The producers didn't like Dr. Crusher, so Dr. Pulaski replaced her in the 24th century.
(1) use of exist as too strong a word. though not wrong, appear would appear better here. (2) This is analogous to Replicators are nonexistent in the 23rd century. (3) is somewhat analogous to The history of the device has been retconned since, by ST:ENT, to state that it existed as early as the 22nd century.
(2) is clearly nonsense, and the state of the article now. (3) though better, is dangerously ambigious, and corresponds with your proposed change.
Therefore I will boldly move forward, inserting something like:
The word show almost unambiguously indicates a real-world perspective.
Redux, I hope you don't dislike it too much. (Btw: we do insert [dubious ] in the middle of the article. that is what the {{dubious}} tag is for. The integrity of that section (sentence) was heavily compromised in my opinion. see example (2). for disputed articles the {{disputed}} tag has been invented.)
I will also try to separate and clarify the second paragraph of the section better, since that clearly is perspectivated from within the storyline, adding more to the confusion. -- Zanaq 17:50, 4 October 2005 (UTC)
Hi, people. I've just returned from my wikibreak. The article's text for the concerned paragraph looks fine, I believe we can leave at that. About the "disputed tag", there's a difference between inserting a notice about it at the top of an article or a section and inserting it in the middle of the article's text. The latter one is not done, and if it's being done somewhere, it shouldn't be happening. And in any case, tagging an article or section of an article as disputed is only done in extreme situations, where users are unwilling/unable to talk or reach a compromise (many a time, the situation escalates into a revert war). That was never the case here, this was never even close from being a case where tagging the article as disputed was necessary. I mean, disagreement, to a certain extent, is one of the driving forces of wikipedia, if articles were tagged every time users disagreed on the contents or wording of texts, virtually all our articles would need to be tagged. Well, this one seems resolved, but I'd like to take the opportunity to approach an issue (?) that the latest edit (before mine) to the article brought about in my mind: there seems to be a tendency to overstate the fact that writers were always willing to bend, or even subvert the rules of the Trek universe for the sake of the plot. I do believe that this should be stated once in every Star Trek-related article, but we needn't state that this and that could be subverted by the writers after explaining every aspect of the Trek universe. I'm not saying that this is the case in this particular article (not yet, at least), but it is starting to get a little too common. That's my impression, at least. Congratulations and thanks to all for the good work done on the article during my absense. Regards, Redux 20:51, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia for the ages[edit]

On a sidenote: what will we do in 95 years, when the arrival of the 22nd century will make ...showing a similar device as early as the 22nd century. dangerously ambiguous? The current version now is merely ambiguous. -- Zanaq 18:05, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

Humm, I believe that kind of consideration might be too far-fetched for us to work on. I mean, in human terms, 95 years is a lifetime (or a couple of them) away. Who's to say that Star Trek will even be remembered by then? Besides, changes on account of the "outdating" of "future events" of shows and movies are seldom regarded as relevant enough to bring about relevant changes in the description/approach of any kind done about them. I mean, as an example, I barely saw a footnote on the "outdating" of the date for doomsday set in the cult movies The Exterminator. I don't see how it would be realistic to change anything about Star Trek on Wikipedia on account that one day the 22nd century will come and go. Regards, Redux 21:00, 24 October 2005 (UTC)


Are there any Star Trek storylines that explore or at least mention the invention of the replicator? The replicator is probably one of those plot devices that creators try not to think about too hard, but surely some Star Trek writer somewhere has explored the replicator's IC origins. Was it a human creation, or was it introduced to Man by the Vulcans, or what? Mr. Billion 08:04, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Pure speculation here, but based on the Vulcan's reluctance to share tech with humans in ST:ENT...I can't see them giving humans replicator technology. Though I can't recall if ST:ENT explained the transporter other than "viola, it's here, it's approved for biological use..." Cburnett 08:15, Jun 16, 2005 (UTC)
True, as far as I know, there's no indication of the actual origin of the replicator, or when exactly it was introduced in the Federation/Starfleet. I do, however, remember a partial information: there's this "Enterprise" episode, "Dead Stop" (which is actually in this article for that reason), where the crew sees a replicator on this alien spaceport. First, that indicates that someone (but not humans or Starfleet) had this technology as early as the 22nd century. Second, T'Pol mentions that she "saw a similar piece of technology" aboard some other alien vessel. This would mean that the Vulcans did not have this technology in the 22nd century either. The most logical explanation (no pun intended) is that the technology was introduced in human and vulcan societies when whatever species that had it joined the Federation. This is obviously retcon, and it does leave the "plot hole" of explaining why Kirk, Spok and company did not have replicators in the 23rd century, which they didn't. One could go down the road of held back technology. We cannot digress from the fact that it was the creators of TNG that actually "invented" the replicator. Regards, Redux 14:15, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Alien Tech[edit]

I added a small comment about replicators possibly being alien tech into a section that basicly said the likley hood of replicators being created by the 24th century is slim to nil based on our current progress of tech development. This was removed by Redux because, and I quote... "(Was this suggesting alien transference of tecnology? This is not the point here. This section is about Okuda's scientific explanation for how it could work, albeit maybe not as soon as the 24th c.)" First of all, I have no idea who Okuda is, secondally if that section is just about the theory of how they work then there shouldn't be an assumption of whether or not we'll have them in the 24th century or not since it discounts things like the possibility of another scientific boom like the last century and alien intervention. If you really must have the assumption of a time frame in there and how it would not be possible you should really have another POV to make the artical NPOV --Zikar 3 July 2005 16:04 (UTC)

Hi. Let me be more specific — we don't have much space in edit summaries, so it can't always be comprising about the subject. The section in question is about the fictional technology. Michael Okuda and his team were the ones to put together the scientific explanation for how the technology works. This is based on hard science, not on elements of the Star Trek fictional universe. Okuda covered the scientific grounds for explaining the fundamentals of how the technology could work, even if it is not feasible in the present state of technological advance. You could say that he is responsible for keeping Star Trek solid in terms of what would be its fundamental tool: science, and not having it deteriorate into a silly story for children (I've had scientists tell me that their use of the Quantum theories is "remarkable"). In the article, we explain this technology as layed out by Michael Okuda, and we then merely acknowledge that, although the technology may be attainable given time and some adaptations, given the pace of advance that we experience the 24th century would not be a realistic finish line, or that, given the reality of computer power, the technological leap that would be required may even not happen at all. You could say that this is some kind of disclaimer, a touch of reality in an article about fiction — but a fiction that Okuda grounded solidly on scientific reality. Introducing elements of the fantastic world of Star Trek would not be in keeping with this. The work does not deal with whether the technology was developed on Earth or elsewhere, in fact the beauty of it is that it does not require that we make contact with the Vulcans one day, but rather is something achievable by scientific means. That's the whole point, or else there would be no need for Okuda's work.
Now, discussing fictional aspects of the Replicator (not the inner workings of the technology, but rather how it was obtained, who had it first etc. in the Star Trek universe), within the frame of the fictional universe, such as arguing whether it was developed on Earth, or by Klingons or Vulcans, or how we could have in by the 24th century according to the fictional universe suggested in Star Trek, that's a completely different issue. We could start a whole new section in the article for that, in fact, it's already there, since a user started a section talking about the plot line introduced in Star Trek:Voyager, about the replicator not existing in the Delta Quadrant and it being a pivotal element for the balance of power there. This could simply be expanded, although for it to remain encyclopedic, the discussion would have to revolve around the plot of the various shows, since our own speculation, or reflecting fan speculation, is not the scope of Wikipedia. Your remark would be completely pertinent in that section. You could state, for instance, that in the Star Trek universe, the technology was or could have been attained somewhere around the 24th century (retcons notwithstanding) thanks to the transference of technology from the fictional alien species of the Star Trek universe, etc. Regards, Redux 3 July 2005 17:53 (UTC)
Hey! Thanks for your very long response in explaining the matter, maybe something explaining this (in a very short paragraph) should be added to that section, saying something along the lines of telling people that that paragraph focuses on the real world theory and not that of Star Trek universe... I still think that something should be mentioned along the lines of "Okuda's theory on the probability of humans having replicator tech by the 24th century is based on the best facts know currently and not that of the Star Trek Universe." After all, I do feel some mention of the Trek universe should be there since this page is about the Trek tech and not about the actual theory of replicators. Another option would be to create a page entitled 'Replicator (Theory)' that is purely about Okuda's theory on the matter and could provide more detailed information. I look forward to your response. --Zikar 3 July 2005 22:33 (UTC)
An introductory paragraph could indeed be of service. In the minds of most people who like and know something about Star Trek — myself included — the aspects of the technology and the stories are intertwined. Perhaps we could create a notice line, right under the subheader, written in italics, that could read something like this section is about the theoretical aspects of the technology as described by Michael Okuda. For plot-related aspects, see the section below (meaning the section currently named "Technology to Die For", but whose name could change if it were to be expanded). With this, we would have referenced the reader to the last section, where, I think, this aspect of the Replicator would be better located.
I feel that, ideally, every article about a piece of technology from Star Trek should contain an explanation on Okuda's technology layout, but that's not easy to come by — I, for one, know squad about Quantum Theory, and we can't just copy something we may find on the net word for word. In that aspect, what we have in this article is an asset, when compared with some other similar articles. About breaking the article, I don't believe that the topic, as it stands, is extensive enough to merit its own article, and even so, breaking it would only be recommendable if the article had gotten too long (exceeding the maximal acceptable lengh, above which some browsers may have difficulty editing). If we were to do it, it would be a question of time (and not too much of it), before people request that it be re-merged with this article. I could be wrong, but I don't think that there's much more about the technology that could be added, so it is unlikely that we'd ever have enough material to start a separate article. Regards, Redux 4 July 2005 02:57 (UTC)


A replicator can create any inanimate matter, as long as the desired molecular structure is on file, but it cannot create antimatter, dilithium, or a living organism of any kind.

Matter isn't created... —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

I don't know. I'm no expert, but perhaps in this context it would be, since we are referring to a fictional technology that can "turn energy into matter and vice-versa". Certainly Lavoisier didn't have anything like this in mind when conceiving his law. And in any case, the complication is that we could say that "matter" would be created since the Replicator turns energy into matter, and energy and matter are not exactly the same thing. Although we could consider a slight rewording: "...replicator can render any kind of inanimate...". Perhaps that would suffice? Regards, Redux 16:59, 29 June 2006 (UTC)


In the section "Technology To Die For", it's stated that Captain Janeway refuses to give out the technology of the replicators to anyone in the Delta Quandrant for fear that the technology would be improperly used. This, however, is not completely true. In the episode called "Think Tank", Janeway offers the replicator technology to the "think tank" group as a means of payment for their assistance. Even though they don't accept it, she didn't seem like she was trying to keep the replicator technology to herself. I seem to be able to recall at least one other episode in Star Trek: Voyager where Janeway offers replicator technology to an alien race, although this needs to be confirmed or refuted.


I've reworked the introduction to remove what is effectively mere speculation about how the replicator works and replace it with a description of what it does.


All this talk about whether X had replicators at Y time ...[edit]

Surely as long as you have matter-energy transporters you have replicators. At the most basic level you'd only have to beam chicken soup up once and you'd be able to make it infinite times. Many episodes have established that a transporter can be used to clone things, it's just designed not to do so accidentally. Also, if 'food dispensers' are not replicators, don't they deserve their own article/section? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 18:34, 29 January 2007 (UTC).


I have a problem with the fact that this article states that TOS never showed an actual 24-th century one. To the contrary, if I can remember the episode were they rescue those crazy kids on treagus (I think its spelled that way), they clearly see an empty "box". The orange cover closes, goes back up and the box is filled with food from absolutely nowhere. Is that not a replicator? -- User: Dark Observer

I don't remember this episode, so I wouldn't know about context. However, I will again evoke the factual reality that replicators and their functioning are something that was thought of during the creative process for TNG, which happened about 18 years after TOS had been cancelled. Reinterpreting what may well be "plot licences", or just another example of unexplained background trivia could simply be wishful thinking. Fact: the people involved with creating the fictional universe for TOS never thought of replicators; they were invented by the creators of TNG almost two decades later. Plot holes or things left to the imagination of the viewers at the time cannot be retconned by us to have been replicators. That'd be original research. Redux 03:54, 22 February 2007 (UTC)
On TOS, the food slots were shown in several episodes, even in "The Naked Time" in the early first season. These were actually miniature turbo elevators, moving foods from an automated food preparation system that prepared food at a very high speed and then moved it to the selector slot where the person waited. For TV purposes, it is shown as taking only seconds, but I would imagine in reality it would take 30-90 seconds. The 1974 publication of Enterprise blueprints shows a "Basic Foods Preparation Facility" on Deck 8 or 9, and an "Exotic Foods Preparation Facility" in the secondary hull. GBC 17:21, 22 February 2007 (UTC)
This is further proof that replicators were never included in the Star Trek fictional universe until the mid '80s, when TNG was put together. Assuming otherwise is speculative, or even imaginative, and is not suited for inclusion in this encyclopedia. And this is probably the 5th time this point is addressed. Redux 21:34, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:Janewayreplicator.jpg[edit]

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Image:Janewayreplicator.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

Please go to the image description page and edit it to include a fair use rationale. Using one of the templates at Wikipedia:Fair use rationale guideline is an easy way to insure that your image is in compliance with Wikipedia policy, but remember that you must complete the template. Do not simply insert a blank template on an image page.

If there is other other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images uploaded after 4 May, 2006, and lacking such an explanation will be deleted one week after they have been uploaded, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.BetacommandBot 09:36, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Replicator in TOS[edit]

The "food dispensers" in ST:TOS have also been referred to as "Food Processors" or "Food Synthesizers."

Orders for food were not given by voice command, but by food cards (TOS: "And The Children Shall Lead" They could also be programmed with tapes (TOS: "Day of the Doves") ("Program the food synthesizer to accommodate our guests.") It is highly unlikely that the galley food be ready to prepare Klingon food stuffs, and in that case, why program the "dispenser"? In TOS: "Yesterday is Tomorrow," chicken soup appears immediately after ordered.

In fact, the idea is present in the non-cannon Animated Series, which allowed voice commands (TAS: "The Practical Joker") In that episode, one character gets a unexpected amount of food. It also featured Romulan Food Synthesizers. If you can program the synthesizer to dispense any of a wide array of foods, how could the kitchen keep up? Is there a menu posted?

The ST:ENT protein resequencers can't make complicated foods, and the word protein implies that it is modifying something already made.

The reason that many say that they aren't replicators is that there is still a kitchen, and the crew quarters don't have them. It could simply be that the technology is still new, and would take too many resources to place in every compartment. There is one in the transporter room, which could imply that they are tied to the transporters. The food processors also may be quite large in this era.

Also, there is a galley in Star Trek: Insurrection, as Picard orders an Ensign to go to the galley and tell the cook to skip the fish, as their guests where determined to be vegetarians.

Also, the word synthesize is "similar" to the word "replicate.'

However, in Voyager, Janeway states that Kirk didn't have replicators. As these slots only produce food, and not other items, this may mean something. Also, the technology may be somewhat different.

The Memory Alpha wiki for Star Trek has a page which explains these synthesizers at

Unlimited energy, then?[edit]

I have one single question in mind: If replicators can create energy out of matter, why does the Voyager crew has to "save the energy for the journey back to home" ? Can't they use their own garbage, or better, some asteroids, to create unlimited energy to run the ship and the replicators ? Answer(theory that makes sence).It takes energy to recylce matter into energy and the amount you wind up with is not high enough for this to be practical it is like burning a gallon of fuel to make a gallon and an ounce it just isn't practical


—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:14, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

That makes sense. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:19, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:Janewayreplicator.jpg[edit]

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Image:Janewayreplicator.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

Please go to the image description page and edit it to include a fair use rationale. Using one of the templates at Wikipedia:Fair use rationale guideline is an easy way to insure that your image is in compliance with Wikipedia policy, but remember that you must complete the template. Do not simply insert a blank template on an image page.

If there is other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images lacking such an explanation can be deleted one week after being tagged, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.

BetacommandBot (talk) 07:06, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

Tagging original research; the extremely limited sources listed in the article do not provide sufficient material to support some of the statements made (e.g. "Throughout the first seasons, the Kazon and other races tried repeatedly to obtain the technology". (talk) 15:07, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

Moneyless Star Trek Universe?[edit]

Might be a bit nitpicky, but there IS money, just not used by Humans. This article even mentions latinum, the currency in general use. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:40, 12 March 2009 (UTC)

I remember some form of currency being mentioned from time to time in TOS, credits I think it was. Also I have some form of recollection that the Federation as an entity uses currency to deal with other races and governments. --WEKS (talk) 07:18, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Real Replicator?[edit]

Star Trek technology is quite popular, and a lot of people think about the question whether things such as beaming or holodecks can eventually be invented. Is there any scientist who has ever talked about the ST replicator technology? -- Orthographicus (talk) 18:18, 1 May 2012 (UTC)

I think we are far from converting matter to energy and back on a large scale. I think it has been done on very tiny scales. 3D printing you may wish to look at.--Canoe1967 (talk) 23:53, 23 August 2013 (UTC)


If someone has a copy of A Private Little War can they check the text of the last paragraph of the plot. Does Kirk want flintlocks manufactured or 'replicated'?--Canoe1967 (talk) 23:49, 23 August 2013 (UTC)

Makerbot image[edit]

I know that the image is showing a Makerbot brand 3D printer called the "Replicator", but I don't think such an image belongs on the Star Trek Replicator page, especially when 3D printing isn't discussed. (talk) 04:17, 20 September 2014 (UTC)