While reading, I came upon the real-world Jacqueline Cochran, an American pilot known for, among other things, numerous speed records and flight pioneering. I thought this a funny coincidence with Zefram Cochrane--the names, personages, activities, and fame are all parallel. While researching for this question, it appears I'm not the only one to have made this connection.

I've had some difficulty pinning it down; Zefram is known (in-universe) as having lots of things named after him, so of course finding resources on what he was named for (out-of-universe) is more difficult.

So, out-of-universe, what was the reason for Zef's surname? Is it a nod to Jackie? Just a coincidence? Something else?

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    Good question, but aside from your supposition, I'd also be interested in the origin of Zefram. – ThePopMachine Feb 7 '16 at 6:41
  • There's an interesting point... its not biblical, and there was only eight born in 2011 in the US...oO – Andrew Tice Feb 7 '16 at 10:48
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    @ThePopMachine Zefram sounds like a blend of Zephyr and Ephraim (though I've no sources to back that up; just sounds mady-uppy). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 8 '16 at 5:46
  • @JanusBahsJacquet - I'm pretty sure that Zefram is a corruption of Geoffrey, although again I can't prove it, but phonetically it makes sense. Unfortunately even excluding direct references to star trek, indirect ones (e.g. people who use the name as an alias, like the stardate FAQ author Andrew Main) are so common that searching for any preexisting usage is pretty hard. – Periata Breatta Sep 9 '16 at 9:42

Unfortunately, we simply don't know

As you say, you are not the first to posit this theory regarding the naming of Zefram Cochrane. It has been debated for years by Star Trek fans. The advent of the Internet has, regrettably, not led to a resolution of this question.

Here is an example thread on this issue:

To shed light on why the theory is difficult to verify, note that the character of Zefram Cochrane was created by Gene L. Coon, who wrote the TOS episode "The Metamorphosis" in which Cochrane first appears. Coon died in 1973, only four years after TOS ended. Before that time, he had given only a scant number of interviews on Star Trek. None mentioned the origin of Zefram Cochrane. No notes have been discovered and publicly shared that give his thought process into creating or naming the character.

Associates such as the late Gene Roddenberry had not shed any light either.

Given the military service of both Coon and Roddenberry, and given Roddenberry's interest in aviation history, we can only say that it is likely that Zefram Cochrane was named in honour of Jacqueline Cochran's achievement — but that is all.


An interesting possibility regarding Gene Roddenberry's inspiration for the character of Zefram Cochrane...

Lord Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, was a Scottish man of near-to-mythic reputation; a British naval captain during the Napoleonic era who also served on behalf of Peru, Brazil, and Chile in their liberation from Spain and Portugal. His exploits are detailed in numerous literary works, immortalized in fictional characters - specifically C.S. Forrester's Horatio Hornblower and Patrick O'Brian's Captain Jack Aubry.

In David Cordingly's book, Cochrane: The Real Master and Commander, he writes:

"Cochrane was the very epitome of the Romantic hero. His life has an epic quality and was marked by a dramatic succession of ups and downs. Remarkable triumphs were all too often followed by disappointment and recriminations. Like so many heroes he was a flawed character with a temperament which led him into conflict and disputes. He imagined enemies where there were none and made enemies of people who should have been his friends. He was frequently out of step with his times and lacked the insight and the humility to understand why this should be and to adapt to it. His most damaging fault was his pursuit of money and his relentless determination to make his fortune."

(Source: Cordingly, David, Cochrane: The Real Master and Commander, as cited in "Talk of the Nation," 18 Sept 2007, NPR.)

Link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14505058

It would certainly appear that Lord Thomas Cochrane fits the bill of Roddenberry's volatile Zefram, who is destined to make history in spite of himself.

A commonly known piece of trivia also supports this speculation. Consider Gene Roddenberry's own description of Captain James T. Kirk in the third revision of the Star Trek storyline from April 1967:

Played by William Shatner, Kirk is about thirty-four, an Academy graduate, rank of Starship Captain. A shorthand sketch of him might be "A space-age Captain Horatio Hornblower", constantly on trial with himself, a strong, complex personality...On the other hand, don't play Kirk like the captain of an 1812 frigate in which nothing or no one moves without his command."

(Source: https://www.bu.edu/clarion/guides/Star_Trek_Writers_Guide.pdf)

Did I mention that Lord Cochrane was a frigate captain?

LLAP, Clan Cochrane in North America Visit us online at ClanCochrane dot org!

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