All good things come to an end. James Doohan, who played Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott in the original Star Trek series (and movies) is dead at 85. Scotty kept the Enterprise going through countless near disasters. He also used a Mac in Star Trek IV.
Scotty wasn’t born in Scotland, but hails from British Columbia, Canada. As the scotch-loving, tight fisted engineer of the Star Ship Enterprise, he will be forever remembered for the phrase, “Beam me up, Scotty.”
Though most of us have viewed numberless episodes of Star Trek, and would love to have a computer as sophisticated (and feminine) as the one aboard the various Enterprises, we’ll strain to see what Scotty, or his death, have to do with Apple’s beloved Mac.
Scotty used a Mac. Montgomery Scott, engineer and Mac user.
In Star Trek IV The Voyage Home, the Enterprise crew uses a Klingon spacecraft to go back in time to San Francisco.
The idea is to find a whale, transport it to the future (real time for the Star Trek crew), and save Earth once again (this time from a strange probe that sounds like, da da… a whale).
Scotty helps out an engineering firm to develop transparent aluminum. The crew then transports the whales in the Klingon ship. It’s in that episode where Scotty uses a Mac.
How does he use the Mac? By picking up the mouse and speaking to it as if it’s a microphone and the computer can understand voice recognition.
The Mac, of course, is clueless. While the scene is funny and memorable (to Mac users), it does point out a number of things about the stream of time. Whether it’s going forward 20 years from that movie, or going backwards in time a few hundred years. Some things change and some don’t.
Computers of the future control systems and respond to voice commands, apparently with the ability to understand inflection, punctuation, vocal nuances, and context. Computers of the past and present respond to keyboard and mouse input. Click. Click. Click.
Voice recognition and activation more than 20 years after Star Trek IV is still little more than a dream of some distant Star date.
Yes, there are programs that can take dictation and do a decent job of writing out on the screen what you speak. That’s about it, right? Mostly. Some voice recognition programs also let you open programs, copy files, move files, and run menu commands with your voice.
In Star Trek, there’s a relationship with the computer. The computer’s voices are almost always feminine. I’m not sure what gender my Mac is.
Between you and me, I relish the day when I can interact with my Mac in a more personal way with voice recognition. I want my Mac to take on a vocal avatar and tell me what’s happening in the world, my world, or on the computer. Seamlessly. No clicking. Just vocal communication.
I speak. Mac listens. Mac speaks. I listen.
Maybe we’ll have a lovers spat. Maybe I’ll need my Mac for counseling, like a best friend. “Jack, that’s the third woman you’ve broken up with this month. Is there a problem I should know about?” That would be cool.
I’m an original Trekkie. There are no publicly broadcast episodes of any Star Trek series or movie that I have not seen. Many, countless times over again. And over again. And again.
In this age of the advanced personal computer, the tremendous power that exists in CPUs and graphics chips, and the creativity of the software developers, why do we not have a truly “personal” computer that does what we “tell” it (no click, click, click) and responds to our information and entertainment needs?
I think it’s time we asked that question and asked more of our computers than to respond to a simple click.
“Computer, show me all the recent QuickTime movies of Tera Patrick.”
You get the idea.
Our lovely and feminine Mac writer babe has opened a thread on the Forums about Star Trek. Click Here to read more.