During the modern Star Treks (relative to the timeline, e.g mid 24th century onwards, especially in Voyager), memory capacity is measured in 'quads,' 'kiloquads,' 'megaquads,' 'gigaquads' etc, but there is no standard among these that can be followed and used as a real system. For example, when the EMH in Voyager was transmitted back to the Alpha Quadrant, he had to leave behind 12 megaquads of information to fit within the bandwidth, and we also know that when voyager received a message back through the Midas Array at another point, they were able to retrieve 68 kiloquads of data. If this is the maximum data that could be reconstructed, we can place the EMH program at up to 12.5 megaquads in size, if we leave room to compensate for people rounding numbers to the nearest megaquad. At another time, however, we learn that the EMH matrix has destabilised because it had exceeded 1000 terraquads of information. If this follows the same scale as today's bytes, 1000 terraquads is at least 80,000,000 times larger than what we know the EMH program to be. This leads me to believe that the quad system doesn't follow the same laws as the byte system, so does anybody know what system it does follow, and how to convert this into bytes?

Thanks to anybody who answers, this has been bugging me for a long time.

This is where I sourced my data.

  • 7
    Unfortunately, I can't find anywhere in the TNG Technical Manual where there's a behind-the-scenes explanation of quads, but it seems reasonable to assume it was made up so that they wouldn't be beholden to modern-day computing terms and then sound laughable in the real world as technology marched on. I don't know where Memory Alpha sourced the background information section in the linked page on Quads, but it does essentially answer your question. No, there's no known conversion factor, and Voyager used the unit of measure confusingly.
    – Dranon
    Jun 4, 2017 at 2:16
  • @Dranon Yep that's pretty much what Okuda said in the tech manual. Jun 4, 2017 at 5:49
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    I found Voyager to be pretty bad about throwing numbers around with no real thought for consistency.
    – Brandon
    Jun 4, 2017 at 5:55
  • 1
    @Brandon sadly, I've observed that as well. Jun 4, 2017 at 12:57
  • 1
    Pure speculation: maybe it simply cannot be converted one to one in a way that makes sense. Think of the information that needs to be transmitted to beam one person. You not only have to transfer the mass, but also a lot of things (for instance the state of subatomic particles) that cannot be expressed in ones and zeroes.
    – Twinkles
    Jun 4, 2017 at 15:36

1 Answer 1


Quoting directly from the TNG Encyclopedia, the short answer is that it's not a convertible unit, and quite intentionally so.

Unit of measure of data storage and transmission in Federation computer systems. ("Realm of Fear" (TNG]). No, we don't know how many bytes are in a kiloquad. We don't even want to know. The reason the term was invented was specifically to avoid describing the data capacity of Star Trek's computers in 20th-century terms. It was feared by technical consultant Mike Okuda that any such attempt would look foolish in just a few years, given the current rate of progress in that field.

For the record, the term is used in a wildly inconsistent fashion ranging from a few kiloquads in the TNG Technical Manual up to millions of teraquads in Voyager.


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