What is the timeline for the acquisition or development of warp drive among the various major species of Star Trek (e.g. Humans, Vulcans, Bajorans, Cardassians, Romulans, Klingons etc.)? If the means of achievement of various warp milestones is known, this should be included to.
Because this got a little long, I'll cut to the chase and give you a list in chronological order - you can read the rest of the answer if you like for more details. Note that I'm going to use the more conservative dates in this timeline; as you'll see below there are some more 'wild' guesses:
- Vissians - 12th Century CE
- Borg - 15th Century CE
- Cardassians - 1925
- Ferengi - after 1947
- Vulcans - after 1947
- Klingons - after 1947
- Humans - 2063
- Bajorans - 2328
Okay, so I'll start with the easiest:
When?April 5th 2063
How?A guy called Zefram Cochrane decided he wanted to live the high life so he'd invent a great new space faring propulsion technique, get rich quick and have a cozy life.
Now, for the rest of them I'm relying on this brilliant [Memory Alpha article]
When?Sometime *after* 1947 (*DS9*: 'Little Green Men'). Note that, out of canon, [Memory Beta] tells us that the Vulcans and Romulans had warp drive as early as the 3rd century CE, but later lost that technology. This may explain how the Romulans traveled to Romulus from Vulcan [which is a reasonable distance].
How?Not much information on Vulcan warp-development is given; it seems that they slowly developed it under their own steam (*ENT*: 'First Flight')
When?Sometime after 1947 (*DS9*: 'Little Green Men')
How?The Memory Alpha article claims that they invented it. Don't look at me so suspiciously: Quark's comments in 'Little Green Men' would suggest that Quark thinks the Klingons may have been responsible for the development of warp drive by themselves, as it implies it took them a long time to develop it. Furthermore, the [Klingon page on Memory Alpha] says:
Because the worlds of the Klingon Empire were resource-poor, the Klingons developed an intense belief in the need for expansion and conquest in order to survive.
This would definitely encourage developing warp drive by themselves.
When?Around the 12th Century (*ENT*: 'Cogenitor')
How?In the above episode, they claim that they developed it, so we'll have to assume for now that they made it by themselves!
When?Unknown, but probably prior to the 15th century when they had begun to establish their interstellar collective (*VOY*: 'Dragon's Teeth'). [Out of canon], it seems they were Warp capable from the 46th Century BCE.
Because they had begun to establish their interstellar by the time they developed warp drive (ignoring non-canon materials for the moment), it's possible they simply assimilated or otherwise acquired the technology from a warp-capable passerby, or developed it themselves. It's not really elaborated on much
When?Sometime after 1947, as indicated by Quark's remark in *DS9*: 'Little Green Men'
We don't strictly speaking know, but it's probable that they bought it at some point.