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Harren's theorem

A 24th century Starfleet issue PADD

The Personal Access Display Device, PADD, dataPADD or holoPADD in some instances, was a handheld computer interface in widespread use since at least the 22nd century.

PADDs were used by such spacefaring organizations as Starfleet, the Andorian Imperial Guard, Bajoran Militia, Cardassian Union, Klingon Empire, Romulan Star Empire, and Vulcan High Command. They were common to cultures even as distant as the Delta Quadrant. PADDs were also used by many aliens of different species to bid on slaves at an Orion slave market on Verex III. (ENT: "Borderland")

General specifications[]

PADD internal components

Inside a Starfleet PADD

Hold the Future

A sign in Greater Boston in 2399 advertising the next year's model of PADD for civilian use

Initially consisting of a large touchscreen display and minimalistic manual interface or control panel, generally only one or two buttons, the typical PADD was used for a variety of functions, including logging crew manifests, compiling duty rosters or diagnostic reports, entering personal data, and/or accessing library computer systems using the LCARS Interface.

Varying in size, shape and specification, PADDs were often distinguished by the species of their manufacturer or user. United Earth and Federation PADDs were generally flat and rectangular in shape, while Klingon and Cardassian PADDs were often more angular.

The internal circuitry of the Starfleet-issue PADD, circa 2360s, was revealed only once, in the TNG episode "A Fistful of Datas". While the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual indicates isolinear internal components, the aforementioned episode portrays a PADD utilizing printed circuit boards, just like present-day computers, and only partially made of isolinear circuits.

The reference book Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual states that Starfleet PADDs were powered by sarium krellide power cells, and had an outer casing of boronite whisker epoxy, which would have allowed the PADD to sustain a thirty-five-meter drop without damage.

Holographic PADDs

2 holographic displays on pocket-sized PADDs in 2385

By 2385, a pocket sized version was available to civilians on Earth. It had a "pop up" holographic display and a palm sized physical interface. The principal and one of the secretaries at the WSA had this version of a PADD on First Contact Day when a group of rogue synth attacked Mars. The Federation News Network's red alert caused the device's display to automatically activate and start flashing red. (ST: "Children of Mars")

The red alert activating the PADD is similar to the modern Wireless Emergency Alerts in the United States, suggesting this device might be a civilian communicator/PADD combination, similar to a smartphone. Other than the alert, the device wasn't used for communication except between the computer systems of the school. The holographic desktop monitors at the WSA didn't receive the alert automatically, and the staff had to manually activate the school's emergency alert.

Mobile device

A pocket sized clear PADD in 2399

In 2399, Kestra Troi-Riker had a small pocket sized PADD which she used to communicate with Captain Rupert Crandall to identify the location of a planet in the Ghulion system based on the description of its moons at night. (PIC: "Nepenthe")

This device was not identified in the episode.


PADD 2150s

A typical PADD, 2151

Standard issue during the 22nd century, PADDs utilized by Starfleet were rectangular in shape, dominated by a large display screen taking up much of the surface area of the device. Small buttons were located just below the screen, most often grouped in two, at the lower right-hand side of the interface. Varying control button arrangements were also in use. (ENT: "Vox Sola", "Dead Stop")

These PADDs were often used to display schematics, or subspace transmissions, and were capable of wireless computer networking as well as playing movies, recording logs, and audio playback. (ENT: "Breaking the Ice", "Dawn", "Twilight") They were often used by crewmembers reading during their time in the mess hall. (ENT: "Breaking the Ice", "Fortunate Son")

At some point between 2144 and 2154, Arik Soong was able to open all the locks in a San Francisco prison he was being held at using just a PADD. After this incident, he was only allowed to use paper when sketching and writing his ideas. (ENT: "Borderland")

Diagram Kreetassan

A PADD used for ritual sectioning of an alvera tree

In 2152, a PADD was used by Captain Jonathan Archer in order to know how to arrange a series of log rings, while performing a ritual sectioning of an alvera tree as an apology to three Kreetassan chancellors outside the Hall of Diplomacy on Kreetassa. (ENT: "A Night in Sickbay")

As evidenced by the final draft script of "A Night in Sickbay", this PADD was originally to have been a piece of paper, instead.

Later that year, Commander Charles Tucker III left a PADD containing the schematics of the NX-class starship Enterprise with Q'ell. (ENT: "Marauders")

A PADD of this type could be set up to work in conjunction with an amplifier, as Commander Tucker did in a successful attempt to distract Arkonian pilot Zho'Kaan in 2152. In addition, Tucker subsequently jury-rigged the PADD to work as a controller for a makeshift transceiver. (ENT: "Dawn")

While under the effects of trellium-D in 2154, T'Pol shattered a PADD on Captain Archer's desk. (ENT: "Damage")

The prop used as a Starfleet PADD in Star Trek: Enterprise, used throughout the series, was created from a Cabin Light Box (Cabin Pocket-Vue CL-5000P Pocket Light Box), a device used to view transparencies or undeveloped film, augmented with 3M Rubber "Bumpons" for buttons, and a rubber "bumper" for what has been presumed to be a camera. A tutorial for a homemade version can be found online. trek/enterprise padd tutorial/index.html One of these PADDs was exhibited at Star Trek: The Experience museum in Las Vegas, Nevada, while another traveled with Star Trek: The Adventure exhibit.

The final draft script of "" referred to a PADD taken aboard Enterprise by Karyn Archer in that installment as "an old Starfleet PADD."

Pike and Number One

Una Chin-Riley using a Starfleet PADD, 2257

Starfleet PADD, 2260s

A Starfleet electronic clipboard, 2260s

PADD 2370s

A Federation PADD, 2373

PADD in corridor

A PADD in a corridor without artificial gravity

Hansens final log

A horizontally held PADD

One of the most often used devices employed by personnel serving in Starfleet, PADDs were common aboard Federation starships, space stations, and planetary facilities during the 23rd and 24th centuries.

First appearing as late as 2257 aboard such starship types as the Constitution-class, PADDs of this era were large, wedge-shaped devices, operated almost exclusively through the use of a stylus. These data PADDs were often carried by yeomen aboard starships, but additionally appeared in other locations, including Starfleet's Starbase 11. (DIS: "An Obol for Charon"; TOS: "The Man Trap", "The Menagerie, Part I", "The Menagerie, Part II"; DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations")

This device has never been explicitly referred to as a PADD in any of the Star Trek series or films. The script of "Shore Leave", in fact, consistently referred to one of these devices simply as a "paper". However, the reference book Star Trek Encyclopedia, 4th ed., vol. 2, p. 119 uses this device, as well as a clear, PADD-like device carried by Chekov in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, to illustrate its section of information about PADDs, a relatively small entry in the publication. Before the first appearance of the TOS PADD in the first aired episode, a clipboard was used for the same task in "The Cage". Several TOS novels use the term "data slate".

By 2364, PADDs had taken on a smaller profile and, while some models included one, the stylus was replaced by simple, touch-sensitive controls, typically located beneath a little, square-shaped display screen. Generally small and light-weight, the PADDs of the 2360s and 2370s were basically rectangular in shape, but varied in size, proportion, and even color – ranging from gray and muted blue colors, to red. Some PADDs, like one used by Dr. Lewis Zimmerman aboard Jupiter Station in 2376, were translucent. (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint"; DS9: "Emissary"; VOY: "Caretaker", "Life Line", et al.) When struck with enough force, the screen of a PADD could be shattered, resulting in shards sharp enough to cut Human skin. (DS9: "Statistical Probabilities")

While the common function of these Federation PADDs was most often straight forward data entry or data retrieval, some PADDs were capable of more artistic tasks. Multiple PADDs, often larger in size than most of their counterparts, were used to draw up schematics or to create composite images or artwork. PADDs were also capable of predictive text functions, allowing users to enter a small amount of data to achieve full words or even sentences. In addition, a stylus could be used for text entry. PADDs could also order a site-to-site transport. PADDs may have been capable of sending text messages to other PADDs, based on events seen in a daydream of The Doctor's. (DS9: "Babel", "The House of Quark", "The Muse", "Image in the Sand"; VOY: "Renaissance Man", "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy")

PADDs had many more functionalities including displaying data, Voice to Text Recording for logs, Taking Digital Photographs and many more operations.

By the 32nd century, the PADD had become holographic and was called the holoPADD. The technology for the PADD had been miniaturized to the point where it could be included with other functions in the tricom badge. Activation and deactivation of the holoPADD was by hand gestures. (DIS: "Scavengers")

Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual theorizes that, given the ability of PADDs to network with a starship's main computer, a PADD, with the right user interface, could be used to control primary ship functions like navigation and the helm. PADDs, as they were seen in the spin-off series, were designed during the pre-production stage of Star Trek: The Next Generation, at least in part by Rick Sternbach. An early drawing (bearing a strong resemblance to the prop used well into Star Trek: Voyager) can be seen in the book Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, dated 17 March 1987.

Starfleet PADDs of the 24th century first appeared in the episode "Lonely Among Us", where they were still called "P.A.D.D." in the script. The device was also called "P.A.D.D." in the script of "Too Short A Season". Beginning with "Loud As A Whisper", their acronym was spelled "PADDs" or "padds" in the scripts. The devices were first mentioned by name in the episode "A Fistful of Datas".

Several Federation PADDs were sold off on the It's a Wrap! sale and auction on eBay. [1] [2]

Andorian Imperial Guard[]

Andorian PADD

An Andorian PADD, 2154

Roughly the same size as their Earth Starfleet counterparts, PADDs used by officers in the service of the Andorian Imperial Guard were rectangular in shape, highlighted by several square-shaped pieces at the sides and top, which itself was rounded.

Unlike the Starfleet version, no obvious buttons or control panels were visible on the device, suggesting that the large, center-mounted display screen was touch-sensitive. (ENT: "United", "Kir'Shara")

Bajoran Militia[]

Bajoran PADD

A Bajoran PADD, 2375

In use during the 24th century aboard Bajoran spacecraft and stations (including New Bajor and starbase Deep Space 9), Bajoran PADDs were small, roughly oval-shaped devices, nearly the same size as (though slimmer than) the small Federation PADD variant.

Capable of the same general function as their alien counterparts, Bajoran PADDs could be used to download information from primary computer sources, including text documents such as novels. They were also able to display information in Bajoran as well as other languages. (DS9: "Emissary", "The Jem'Hadar", "Shadows and Symbols")

Cardassian Union[]

Cardassian PADD

A Cardassian PADD, 2369

Used by both civilians and military personnel, the typical PADD used throughout the Cardassian Union could be found aboard Galor-class warships and on Cardassia Prime.

Consisting of a brown and gold-colored unit, the Cardassian PADD was angular and irregularly shaped, featuring an oval-shaped display screen and a number of trapezoidal and irregularly shaped buttons.

The Cardassian PADD was capable of a variety of functions, from displaying visual recordings to operating door mechanisms to torturing prisoners. (TNG: "Chain Of Command, Part II"; DS9: "Emissary", "Second Skin")

Several of the distinctly alien Cardassian PADDs were repainted Federation standard colors and used in the movie Star Trek: First Contact. The Cardassian PADD prop was also fitted with a larger, lit display screen for use as scanners in Enterprise, as an Earth device in "Regeneration" and a Klingon device in "Bounty". (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 3, pp. 68-71)


In 2152, Charles "Trip" Tucker read the instructions for a neutron microscope off a Denobulan PADD. (ENT: "Stigma")

In the final draft script of "Stigma", Tucker was described as reading the microscope's instructions from three PADDs, which weren't described, rather than the Denobulan PADD that appears in the final version of the episode. Trek/5 Enterprise/Enterprise 2x14 - Stigma.pdf


The Enolians also used a type of bronze-colored PADD. An Enolian official used one of these devices aboard Enterprise NX-01 in 2152, to view some mugshots of Jonathan Archer and Charles Tucker III. (ENT: "Canamar")

In the final draft script of "Canamar", this device was referred to as "a small PADD-like alien device."

Ferengi Alliance[]

Ferengi PADD

A common Ferengi PADD, 2374

Ferengi auction PADD

A PADD used at auction

A mainstay in business dealings involving Ferengi within – and outside of – the Ferengi Alliance, Ferengi PADDs were often units which each had an elongated-hexagonal shape. Muted gold in color, these PADDs featured a number of button controls and a hexagon-shaped viewscreen often displaying the Ferengi interface layout, which was usually circular.

Ferengi PADDs were most often geared toward business and profit, capable of cataloging inventory, inputting vouchers, or drawing up business plans. Chief among their capabilities was currency transfer, allowing transactions to take place with simple thumbprint verification. These PADDs were utilized by Ferengi Commerce Authority liquidators and could be found at the Tower of Commerce on Ferenginar, as well as aboard Ferengi vessels like Nunk's Marauder and at Quark's Bar, Grill, Gaming House and Holosuite Arcade on Deep Space 9. (TNG: "Firstborn"; DS9: "The Wire", "Family Business", "The Begotten", "Profit and Lace"; VOY: "Inside Man")

Other Ferengi PADD variants included a flat, black and green device with an angular display screen. This PADD variant could be used to view auction catalogs. (DS9: "In the Cards")

Klingon Empire[]

Klingon PADD small variant

A small Klingon PADD, 2373

Klingon PADD - record of battle

A larger Klingon PADD variant

In 2154, a type of Klingon PADD was used by a group of Klingon intruders who invaded Enterprise NX-01. This device was used to sabotage the Enterprise computer by uploading Klingon subroutines onto it. (ENT: "Affliction") Another Klingon PADD was later used by Doctor Antaak to show Dr. Phlox that, by interrupting the transcription sequence in the Klingon augment virus, they could stop the virus from proceeding past its initial stage. (ENT: "Divergence")

At least two models of data PADDs were used by warriors in the service of the Klingon Defense Force during the 24th century.

Both harshly angular compared to their Federation counterparts, Klingon PADDs came in hand-held and larger, landscape-style varieties. Both displaying information in Klingonese, these PADDs could be found in the chambers of the Klingon High Council on Qo'noS as well as aboard Klingon vessels such as the IKS Rotarran.

The smaller model was dark green in color and featured several button controls running up the center of the device to a rectangular-shaped display screen capable of recorded-video playback. The larger model was brown and was held horizontally with a handle attached to the left of an angular, touchscreen display. (DS9: "The House of Quark", "Blaze of Glory", "Soldiers of the Empire", "Tacking Into the Wind")

Detailed photographs of both Klingon PADDs have surfaced online, notably at one prop manufacturer's website. [3] [4]


Numiri padd

A Numiri PADD, 2371

The Numiri of the Delta Quadrant were also known for using PADDs.

In 2371, the captain of a Numiri patrol vessel used a PADD to identify Tom Paris aboard a Type 8 shuttlecraft. (VOY: "Ex Post Facto")

The identification as a PADD comes from the call sheet which listed it in the props section.


Prime holding a PADD

A Prime with a PADD and stylus, 2380

The inhabitants of K'Tuevon Prime used devices resembling PADDs, which were operated using styli.

In 2380, the manager of the event silo rented by Imperium Magistrate Clar used a device of this type. (LD: "Veritas")


Quarren PADD

A Quarren PADD, 2377

An example of PADDs appearing as distant as the Delta Quadrant, similar devices were utilized by the slavers of the planet Quarra in 2377.

Golden-brown in color, these PADDs were roughly the same size as their counterparts from the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, but featured circular display screens with several button controls below. Among their functions, they were used to display missing persons reports. (VOY: "Workforce", "Workforce, Part II")

Tandaran military[]

During the 22nd century, a silver-colored Tandaran PADD was available. It had a touch-sensitive screen and could be linked to retrieve information from other sources, such as from a shuttlepod and the Tandaran intelligence agency. (ENT: "Detained")

This PADD was not named on screen; its designation as a PADD comes from the final draft script of "Detained".


A V'radian PADD had a brown frame and a blue screen. The device's frame had sharply shaped outer edges. A keypad was below the screen.

A V'radian PADD was used by V'radian chemist B'Rat Ud to provide a recipe for trellium-D to "Trip" Tucker and Malcolm Reed. (ENT: "Rajiin")

This PADD was not named on screen; its designation as a PADD comes from the final draft script of "Rajiin".


Vulcan PADD 2152

A Vulcan PADD from 2152

Regenerative shield amplifier

A Vulcan PADD from 2381

In service as early as the 22nd century, Vulcan PADDs came in a variety of builds and sizes, from angular to oval-shaped devices.

These PADDs were used by Vulcans stationed on distant planets, including Vulcans serving in the Interspecies Medical Exchange on Dekendi III. (ENT: "Stigma")

The Vulcans still used PADDs with the same exterior casing in the 2380s. (LD: "wej Duj")

The Vulcan PADD featured most prominently in "Stigma" was a repaint of the Bajoran PADD seen throughout Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The device was reproduced faithfully in animated form in "wej Duj".

A Vulcan PADD featured in the writers' second draft script of ENT: "Breaking the Ice", despite not appearing in the final version of that installment. In the teleplay, the PADD displayed a message which had come from Vulcan, and the device was hand-delivered from Captain Vanik to Sub-Commander T'Pol. She later explained to Commander Tucker that the message was from her fiancé, Koss, who wanted to work things out with T'Pol, despite his parents having some misgivings about the fact that she was serving aboard a starship whose crew mostly consisted of Humans.


In 2154, Xindi-Primate Degra used a Xindi PADD to show Jannar evidence that Enterprise NX-01 had time traveled.

A short time later, Degra held a Xindi PADD while speaking with Captain Archer in his ready room. Mid-conversation, Degra showed the PADD to Archer, pointing out it contained the coordinates of the Xindi Council planet and instructions on how to access a subspace corridor which would shorten Enterprise's journey there. (ENT: "The Forgotten")



Background information[]

The PADDs depicted from TNG onward were conceived and designed by Rick Sternbach, who submitted the first version of the design in January 1987. He also designed the vast majority of the variations following his first version. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 3, pp. 68-71) On the PADD concept, Sternbach has noted, "The PADD was initially scaled to be about the size of a paperback book, with a larger, more comfortable screen than the tricorders, and its internal isolinear circuitry was supposed to be many thousands of times more compact than in the clipboard Kirk was used to signing. I always assumed that the PADD would be a highly capable device, able to communicate with other tech devices. The fact that we have devices like it today doesn't surprise me in the least. They're all very, very cool, but I expected them to show up eventually. The only aspect about today's gadgets that I don't think I saw coming in 1987 was how multifunction they've become. I'm not sure if I designed the PADD and tricorder and other devices to be so limited in comparison or if they were just used on screen in limited ways. You don't see people talking into a PADD or a tricorder, though there's no good reason why they couldn't have." [5]

As foreseen by Rick Sternbach, not long after their debut in TNG, PADD-like devices became indeed a real-world technology with the introduction of personal digital assistants (PDAs). Since then, devices with touch-sensitive displays and user input systems which reconfigure themselves depending on the task at hand have become common, the most notable one being Apple's iPad, introduced to the general public on 27 January 2010 by CEO Steve Jobs. The iPad carries a name that sounds suspiciously like that of the fictional Star Trek device, a circumstance not lost on others, including Star Trek actor Brent Spiner, who flat-out stated that Jobs "stole" the idea from Star Trek. [6]

Sternbach himself took a far more laid-back position on the similarities issue, having stated in October 2011, "I can understand why there's been some hoopla over the comparison to recent tablet computers, particularly the Apple iPad, but I really see the PADD as simply an outgrowth of science fiction data displays imagined for decades in literature and on screen." [7] Still, other former Star Trek staffers such as Michael Okuda and Doug Drexler truly reveled in the advent of the iPad, as was evidenced by a remark from Drexler, "It's uncanny to have a PADD that really works. The iPad is the true Star Trek dream." [8] Like competitor Bill Gates (having done so for the personal computer in the documentary How William Shatner Changed the World), Jobs – a "Trekkie" himself – has on at least two occasions acknowledged Star Trek as a possible source of inspiration, though not for the iPad, but rather for the earlier predecessor devices, the iPhone [9] and the iPod. In How William Shatner Changed the World it was revealed how Jobs laid out the basic concepts leading up to the development of the iPod after watching Spiner (of all people) as Data on the Next Generation episode "A Matter Of Time" scan through various orchestral pieces instantly at his fingertips.


A Risian PADD held by Freebus in a deleted scene

Unlike their real world counterparts, most PADDs on TNG, DS9, and VOY were nonfunctional – hence Drexler's above-quoted "really works" remark – rarely even incorporating lighted display screens, but rather printed "okudagrams". Lighted PADDs did eventually make their way to screens for Star Trek: Insurrection, with custom and store-bought devices like the Cabin Light Box being used through Star Trek: First Contact and into Enterprise.

According to frequent background performer Guy Vardaman, TNG extras often referred to the PADD props they carried down corridors as "hall passes".

A Risian PADD used by Freebus appears in a deleted scene from ENT: "Two Days and Two Nights". From the device, he sees that Enterprise crew members who have decided to visit Risa on shore leave have selected "a wide variety of locales and activities." However, he also sees from the PADD that T'Pol has decided not to go with them.

FASA's Star Trek: The Next Generation Officer's Manual referred to their full name as "Portable Auxiliary Data Display".

External links[]