Yes, I know: Warp drive. I know, he came up with warp-theory, but you don't "invent" a theory you "develop" it or "propose" it. So what did he invent? What was the technology that he could build upon building the Pheonix? What did he not had to invent? Has there already been deflector shields (needed for warp-drive) or did he invented those too? Has there already been dilithium-based matter-antimatter-reactors or did he invented those too? Did he invent the structural integrity field? What about inertia dampeners?

Or was it the other way around: He came up with the theory and every tiny state started researching on it. Everyone started building (not yet functional) warp-drive-prototypes. Than in the chaos of the third world war those programs were canceled and Cochrane stepped in and collected parts to make it work? So maybe all he actually invented was an improved flow regulator.

Or did he invent just one very essential part like the field coil?

So while it's common knowledge, that he invented the warp drive, what did he actually invent?

  • 1
    Maybe he invented the replacement of competition with cooperation? gasp
    – bitmask
    May 26, 2014 at 14:10
  • 4
    A kickin' way to listen to Steppenwolf- Magic Carpet Ride?
    – Morgan
    May 26, 2014 at 14:22
  • 1
    Here's an accurate biography.
    – o0'.
    May 26, 2014 at 15:42
  • 1
    @Lohoris: I always love reading that. Let's all hear it for Nikola Tesla! ... also, @ Einer: No, your question is not stupid, I didn't know an answer. However, the most valuable asset of post-war Humanity in Star Trek was not the Warp Drive but a sense of community and cooperation. Yes, this was fuelled by the discovery that they were not alone and thus ultimately the Warp Drive --- One of the finer points made in the film was that he used a war-rocket to birth an age of peace and collaboration. For me, that was his primary contribution.
    – bitmask
    May 26, 2014 at 16:12
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1 Answer 1


We don't have fine-grained information from the canon, but we know this for sure that Cochrane was a back yard scientist. He reused many of existing technologies. From Memory Alpha:

A historical irony was that, contrary to the fact he went on to use the Phoenix to inaugurate an era of peace, Cochrane incorporated a weapon of mass destruction into its design; constructing the Phoenix in a missile silo, he equipped a Titan II missile as its launch vehicle.

So, it's possible that matter-antimatter annihilator was in the design of Titan II capable of powering Cochrane's warp drive for short duration. When it comes to deflector shield, it's not really needed if you have clear predefined path for short flight. Yes, he might have invented inertial dampener. These are just guesses. Canon never mentioned it.

The first Warp flight was experimental and it's dumb to compare it's stability with Enterprise type starships. It just worked. The first airplane of Mankind was made up of woods and they give it speed push on rail. And, there were no computers to manage aerodynamic components at atomic scale.

After the contact with Vulcans, humanity would get lots of toys at arsenal to build a real Starship capable of trekking to the stars.

  • 2
    Thanks for this answer! Though Archer surely would disagree with you on the Vulcan's helpfulness ;-)
    – Einer
    May 26, 2014 at 16:41
  • The Wright Flyer was launched from wooden rails, but I don't believe the rails provided any propulsion. May 26, 2014 at 19:49
  • @KeithThompson Think about its landing.. The thing is: There are many luxuries we can't afford in the experimental Technologies.
    – user931
    May 26, 2014 at 20:45

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