In Star Trek First Contact, the Vulcans visit Earth after picking up the signature of the newly invented warp drive. Did Vulcans already have warp capabilities? If not, how did they get to Earth so fast? Did other races invent their own warp drives? If not, how did species such as the Borg obtain warp travel? It seems difficult for a non-warp society to overtake and assimilate technology from a warp society.

I always assumed Zefram Cochrane invented the warp drive which later spread to other races, but now I'm starting to think he only invented it for humans and other races invented theirs independently.

2 Answers 2


The Vulcans already had warp drive. Cochrane invented the first drive that is used by humans. This is explained in Star Trek: Enterprise, where they mention that Vulcans have had warp drive for many years before they came across Earth. I will look into a particular episode for more details.

According to Memory Alpha, the Vulcan's achieved warp sometime after 1947. They also reference that it took them hundreds of years to get warp 2, which as I mentioned earlier, is mentioned in Enterprise.

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    The Ferengi bought their warp drive technology (DSN: Little Green Men), and I want to say that the Klingons took theirs from some race that visited their world, but I might be confusing them with something else.
    – Xantec
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 0:22
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    The Ferengi bought their warp technology from a Breen entrepeneur. Breen space borders Ferengi space. Qonos was invaded by the Hur'q; it is implied that the Klingons took their warp technology when driving them away, but the evidence is contradictory. Commented May 23, 2014 at 1:50
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    @James, I think that sets the scene, nicely, for a pre-academy engineering book 'My First Warp drive' aimed at todlers.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 6:27
  • The Borg on the other hand are still a mystery...
    – Zibbobz
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 17:11
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    @theotherone Cochrane was from alpha centauri in TOS was I don't recall it ever being established that he wasn't human. As far as I know alpha centauri has no native inhabitants in Star Trek canon. And according to memory alpha Cochrane traveled to alpha centauri from Earth in 2078. Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 0:11

TOS gave us an indication that Cochrane developed Warp technology which was spread later on to other species... but this seemed rather arrogant and presumptuous... so, it was 'modified' in the sense that when First Contact movie was made, it basically showed us when Humanity developed its own Warp drive and made first contact with Vulcan (which already had Warp technology, as did other races).

This effectively made Humanity, yet another species that just initiated first steps into its interstellar age.

  • I very highly doubt Berman and Braga were concerned about "arrogant and presumptuous" for humans inventing warp drive. In fact as I recall they wanted to make Cochrane a woman until someone said the character was in TOS. This idea became Lily Sloane. TOS said Cochrane was from Alpha Centauri and TOS was not Earth centric - even Kirk grew up on a Colony. And I doubt any Trek fan in the 1960s would have thought the Vulcans did not have warp independently. What was bizarre was Enterprise making humanity the most primitive of the Federation's founders. No one saw that retcon. Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 15:22
  • The reason I think it would have been arrogant to assume Humans invented Warp drive was because it seemingly 'elevated' Humanity into some kind of higher status - which seems.. well, arrogant and self-centered (at least on a galactic and universal scale). Also if I remember correctly, TOS established that Cochrane was Human from Earth who migrated to a different planet where he eventually died (because he didn't age on Earth).
    – Deks
    Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 20:21
  • I'm only responding to clarify something in your new comment. There was a book called Federation that involved both Flint and Cochrane so possibly you may also be remembering that. Cochrane got stranded on a planet with a cloud alien that de-aged him - but she lost that power becoming human. Flint was an immortal in TOS who was secretly many historical figures like Da Vinci who did not age on Earth but Spock assumed he would eventually die based on tricorder readings. In that non-canon book Flint bankrolled Zefram's research. Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 21:25

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