Ferengi history reached back at least 10,000 years, which was the timespan needed to establish the Ferengi Alliance, the governing body of the Ferengi by the 24th century. Compared to Human history, the Ferengi developed many features of a modern economy earlier, already having currency, banking, speculative investments and a unified global economy by around 2700 BC. An important event of early Ferengi history was the creation of the Rules of Acquisition by the first Grand Nagus, Gint. (DS9: "Little Green Men", "Body Parts")
While the Rules of Acquisition enshrined fundamental principles of Ferengi society, such as greed and materialism, Ferengi history avoided atrocities such as slavery, concentration camps, and interstellar wars. However, their social evolution would create a society that was far from being liberal, with extreme sexism denying females most fundamental rights. (DS9: "Rules of Acquisition", "Family Business") Furthermore, violence was not a complete stranger to Ferengi society as evidenced by the Battle of Prexnak, during which all ten involved Ferengi were slaughtered by 273 attacking Lytasians. (DS9: "The Magnificent Ferengi") Moreover, Smeet became the only Grand Nagus ever to be assassinated while in office after a dramatic drop in the Ferengi Market Exchange during his reign. (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar", "Ferengi Love Songs")
A temporal incident known on Earth as Roswell Incident caused the unofficial first contact between three Ferengi from the future and Humans of the mid-20th century. The Ferengi's shuttle had accidentally performed a time warp en route to Earth and crashed on the planet in the year 1947. The United States of America, one of the Human nation-states of that era, treated the visitors with suspicion and would keep this incident a secret after the Ferengi managed to re-acquire their shuttle and return to their own time. (DS9: "Little Green Men")
By the mid-22nd century, the Ferengi had purchased warp drive technology and, by 2150, begun using it to expand their commercial interests in the galaxy. Even at this point, however, the Ferengi were a mysterious race who were often only known through rumor. (ENT: "Acquisition"; DS9: "Little Green Men"; VOY: "False Profits")
By 2150, the Ferengi had visited Valakis, the homeworld of the Menk and the Valakians, the latter of which sought help to fight a medical crisis on their homeworld. As of 2151, Ferengi had encountered Bolians, but T'Pol of the Vulcan High Command was unfamiliar with the name "Ferengi." (ENT: "Dear Doctor", "Acquisition")
In 2151, Starfleet had its first, unofficial encounter with the Ferengi. This initial encounter took place when four Ferengi marauders boarded Enterprise NX-01 after rendering its crew unconscious using a "Trojan Horse" device. The pirates attempted to plunder the starship of items they believed held value, but their plans were ultimately foiled by the Enterprise crew and the Ferengi's own greed. With Enterprise back under Starfleet control, the pirates, who never disclosed their species or allegiance, were allowed to leave with a warning not to plunder any more ships in the area. (ENT: "Acquisition")
Around the mid-24th century, the Great Monetary Collapse occurred on Ferenginar. It was described as "rampant inflation and currency devaluation that were burning like wildfires through the lush financial foliage of Ferenginar". (DS9: "Homefront")
Contact with the FederationEdit
Battle of MaxiaEdit
In 2355, while Captain Jean-Luc Picard was in command of the USS Stargazer, Starfleet had another encounter with the Ferengi, although the latter's identity would not be realized until nine years later. While traveling through the Maxia Zeta system, the USS Stargazer's shields were damaged by an unidentified starship - a Ferengi vessel commanded by the son of a DaiMon named Bok. This forced Captain Picard to perform a maneuver in which the Stargazer jumped into high warp, making it appear to the attackers that the ship was in two places at once. This tactic was so highly regarded by Starfleet that it was given the designation "the Picard Maneuver". During the ensuing confusion, the Stargazer was able to destroy the enemy vessel, but the damage to the Stargazer was substantial and the crew were forced to abandon the ship. (TNG: "The Battle")
Delphi Ardu systemEdit
By 2364, the United Federation of Planets was aware of the Ferengi, but had yet to make official first contact. For this reason, Federation scholars had to rely on rumors and hearsay, likening the Ferengi to "Yankee traders", American sailors of the 18th and 19th centuries who traveled Earth's oceans "in search of mercantile and territorial opportunity." Official first contact between the Federation and the Ferengi eventually occurred in 2364 in the Delphi Ardu system, where a Ferengi vessel and the USS Enterprise-D were trapped in orbit by a derelict outpost of the ancient Tkon Empire. The ship had originally stolen a Federation-owned T-9 energy converter from Gamma Tauri IV and the Enterprise was sent in pursuit. Despite some hostilities, the situation could be resolved peacefully and the Ferengi returned the converter. (TNG: "The Last Outpost")
Upon first official contact with the Ferengi, Starfleet personnel observed the species to speak broken English, often gasping and hissing, and moving in a cat-like "slinking" manner. Within the space of two years, however, the Ferengi had adapted to Federation mannerisms and later encounters had the Ferengi speaking perfect English and moving as a normal Human would. A carry-over which was (and still is) common among all Ferengi is to call Humans by the name "Hew-mons" instead of the correct pronunciation. (TNG: "The Price"; DS9: "Emissary")
In general, Ferengi values were fundamentally incompatible with those of the Federation and a few aggressive incursions against Starfleet would occur over the years following 2364. In most cases these were provoked by overambitious DaiMons, e.g., Bractor, Nunk, and Prak, who acted without sanction by the Ferengi Alliance and who did not shy away from aggressive moves against the Federation in their pursuits for profit or, in Bok's case, personal revenge for the death of his son back in 2355. (TNG: "The Battle", "Peak Performance", "Rascals", "Force of Nature"; VOY: "Inside Man")
Despite such incursions, both sides maintained sufficient relations for Ferengi representatives to participate in Federation-hosted events, e.g., the negotiations for the Barzan wormhole and the biennial Trade Agreements Conference on Betazed in 2366, or for Starfleet ships to answer Ferengi distress calls. (TNG: "The Price", "Ménage à Troi", "The Perfect Mate")
Developments under Grand Nagus ZekEdit
Business Ventures in the Gamma QuadrantEdit
A few months after the re-discovery of the Bajoran wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant in early 2369, Grand Nagus Zek convened a conference at Quark's Bar on Deep Space 9 in order to discuss how the Ferengi Alliance can exploit the wormhole. He pointed out that their reputation has suffered in the Alpha Quadrant, but in the Gamma Quadrant the Ferengi's word would still be trusted. Surprisingly, Zek declined to lead the new venture himself due to his advanced age and instead appointed Quark as the new Nagus. However, this move turned out to be but a ploy to reveal that Zek's son was unsuited as a successor which prompted him to remain in office. (DS9: "The Nagus")
Contact with the DosiEdit
Soon after this, Zek made contact with a species from the Gamma Quadrant, the Dosi. In early 2370, he invited them to Deep Space 9 for a business meeting in order to discuss the purchase of large quantities of tulaberry wine. Although he claimed this to be the "greatest deal in Ferengi history" as it would help the Ferengi Alliance to get a foot in the Gamma Quadrant, Zek's plans reached beyond that. As Zek's chief negotiator, Quark was able to purchase 10,000 vats of wine, only to be subsequently dispatched to the Dosi homeworld in order to procure 10 times that quantity. By artificially exaggerating the demanded volume, Zek accomplished his goal of making the Dosi refer the Ferengi to an even more powerful business partner in the Gamma Quadrant, the Karemma. They were described as an important member of something called the Dominion, thereby making the Ferengi the first Alpha Quadrant power to have ever learned of its existence. (DS9: "Rules of Acquisition").
- At least 10,000 years ago: The establishment of the Ferengi Alliance begins.
- 1947: Roswell Incident – On July 2nd, a Ferengi shuttle from the 24th century crashes in Roswell, Earth. Humans make first contact with the Ferengi. The event is buried by the United States of America.
- 2150: By this year, the Ferengi have purchased warp technology and visited Valakis, whose pre-warp inhabitants are in desperate need of medical assistance.
- 2151: Ferengi marauders are unsuccessful in an attempt to loot the Earth Starfleet ship Enterprise NX-01, however, without disclosing their allegiance or species.
- Mid-24th century: Great Monetary Collapse – Rampant inflation and currency devaluation occurs on Ferenginar.
- 2355: Battle of Maxia – The USS Stargazer encounters a Ferengi ship commanded by Bok's son leading to a violent confrontation.
- 2364: Official first contact between the Federation and Ferengi occurs in the Delphi Ardu star system. Later that year, Bok unsuccessfully tries to take revenge against Starfleet Cpt. Picard for the death of his son. Prior to this date, the Ferengi make contact with the Bandi.
- 2366: The Ferengi unsuccessfully bid for the exclusive rights to the Barzan wormhole. Later that year, they participate in the biennial Trade Agreements Conference on Betazed.
- 2369: The Bajoran wormhole is discovered. Grand Nagus Zek sees vast profit to be made in the uncharted Gamma Quadrant.
- 2370: Via the Dosi, Zek manages to get into contact with the Karemma. They are said to be a powerful member of the "Dominion", thereby making the Ferengi Alliance the first Alpha Quadrant power to learn of this Gamma Quadrant superpower.
- 2373: Ishka secretely becomes Grand Nagus Zek's lover and advisor. Ferengi Commerce Authority (FCA) Liquidator Brunt later fails at an attempt to oust Zek and install himself as new Nagus.
- 2374: Brunt briefly becomes Nagus after Zek, under advice from Ishka, amends the Ferengi Bill of Opportunities to allow Ferengi females to wear clothing. Zek is soon reinstated after the FCA changes its mind and, later that year, the Board of Liquidators considers allowing females to earn profit.
- 2375: Rom succeeds Zek as Grand Nagus of the Ferengi Alliance and ushers in an era of reform that includes the codification of rights for females.
The Borg identify the Ferengi as Species 180 - the fourth-lowest, canon Borg designation. Interestingly, the three lower designations, as well as the next higher number, species 218 (Talaxians), are all species from the Delta Quadrant. Other than the Ferengi, the lowest Alpha/Beta Quadrant species designation by the Borg that was ever given on screen is 3259 (Vulcans). It remains unknown, whether this is an indication for an unusually early Borg-Ferengi contact. (VOY: "The Raven", "Infinite Regress")
Some fans of Star Trek were (at least initially) disgruntled about the Ferengi being encountered by Starfleet as early as the 22nd century in Star Trek: Enterprise, as the earlier-produced TNG: "The Last Outpost" seemed to involve the first contact between the two groups occurring later. Mike Sussman characterized the encounter in "Acquisition" as "probably one of the more controversial choices" in ENT Season 1. Responding to the fan complaints, Brannon Braga stated, "The crew [of Enterprise] never finds out what this species is called. We may even deal with that as we go along. But I think the [upset fans] perceived it as a 'screw you.'" Sussman concurred, "I think we structured the show in a way that preserves Picard's first contact with [the Ferengi] [....] Besides, every Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fan knows Earth's real first contact with the Ferengi was in Roswell in 1947!" (Star Trek: Communicator issue 139, pp. 27 & 50)
Quark actor Armin Shimerman commented, "What I found really interesting [....] was that it was the Ferengi who made the first contact with the major power in the Gamma Quadrant. It was the Ferengi who discovered the Dominion, which I think is wonderful." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 97)