As you can see in the below image and, as I'm sure most TNG watchers would have noticed, there are a series of orange 'plates' on Picard's desk. Does anyone know what these are? (Does Picard ever use them or talk about what they are?)

enter image description here

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    On occasion he types on them as if they are pads.
    – TheDoctor
    May 1, 2014 at 21:42
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    They're the ignition keys for the Enterprise...
    – oɔɯǝɹ
    May 1, 2014 at 21:45
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    I came here to see in what episode Picard's ready room featured some plates of oranges. Dec 4, 2016 at 17:33
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    @O.R.Mapper, this one from "Timescape" ? Oct 2, 2017 at 16:57
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    @ThePopMachine: Good find, although those are not on Picard's desk. Oct 2, 2017 at 18:20

2 Answers 2


No official in-universe use, but they should be data storage devices according to Michael and Denise Okuda

I asked Michael and Denise Okuda (TNG production and art designers) this question ten minutes ago at the Star Trek 50th Anniversary Celebration in Las Vegas.

MICHAEL: That's a darn good question.

He then explained that, out-of-universe, these orange plates are props left over from The Motion Picture. Circuit designs were painted on them for TNG.

In-universe, he said that no specific function had ever been assigned to the plates. There was talk at one point amongst production personnel and/or set designers that they might serve as PADD-style devices (data display devices or readers, but smaller and thinner than PADDs). But he insisted that no official purpose had ever been assigned to them by any designers or writers. He did say that, in retrospect, they should probably be data storage devices.

DENISE: They were just something for Picard to play with!

  • 3
    Okay this is absolutely bounty worthy! Brilliant work! Aug 5, 2016 at 2:24
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    Thanks! I've been waiting a whole year to ask them this! :-D
    – Praxis
    Aug 5, 2016 at 3:05
  • @OftenRight : I appreciate the generous bounty!
    – Praxis
    Aug 9, 2016 at 12:27
  • the answer was most deserving. Outstanding job once again! Aug 9, 2016 at 23:39
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    Every captain needs desk toys.
    – JAB
    Sep 8, 2016 at 22:56

They look like giant isolinear chips or circuit boards.

I can't find any documentation on those exact ones, but these pretty-similar-looking ones from ST VI and ST VII are referred to as isolinear chips in a plexiglass isolinear chip holder: Similar-looking translucent sky blue (3), hot orange (5), and yellow (1) isolinear chips mounted upright on a clear plexiglass stand.

The ones on Picard's desk in TNG have more rounded corners, but they have roughly the same design.

You can see some slightly smaller and more conventional-looking isolinear chips on Troi's desk here: Frontal shot of Counselor Troi's light tan and white desk in front of her tan high-back chair. A PADD, a smaller screened device and some loose isolinear chips ranging from the small flat-stick-shaped to a couple of much larger ones are scattered on the desk. An isolinear chip holder is shown on the left side, with 4 or 5 largish square chips resting in it.

Here are some more from Picard's Enterprise-E ready room that are used in First Contact, Nemesis and Generations: Three isolinear chip holders holding a dozen large square and rectangular isolinear chips with 3 loose rectangular chips. Some are blue, others are green, yellow and hot orange. Picard in the Enterprise-E ready room with 5 or 6 PADDs laying on his desk. Two isolinear chip holders are to his left, another is on sitting on a shelf behind to the right of him.

Picard is seen holding a stylus or circuit-diagnostic/repair device to one of these plates in one episode. So they might be more like circuit boards or interactive e-readers than simply storage devices.


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