Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

Star Trek The Next Generation: 20th Century Computers and How They Worked, subtitled "The Official Starfleet History of Computers", was released in 1993 by Prentice Hall under the imprint of Alpha Books.

Written by Jennifer Flynn (now Jennifer Fulton since her marriage to journalist Scott M. Fulton, III in 1993), the book was an educational textbook for computer science students, covering the history of computer technology and its current state of development at the time, but presented in the in-universe context of the Star Trek: The Next Generation era, as a textbook for students at Starfleet Academy.


From the back cover
"Go where you've never gone before... deep into the micro-universe inside your personal computer. The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise leads you and 24th Century Starfleet Academy students on a fascinating journey through the interior of a 20th century PC.
"Probe the mystery of how a PC turns electricity into data that it can process, store, and transmit to other computers.
"Explore how information travels from a keyboard or mouse through the system to the monitor and printer.
"Learn what the silicon chips that make up computer memory look like and how they work.
"Investigate the software [programs] that drives the computer's operation.
"Seek out the beginnings of the information age – cybernetics, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, fuzzy logic, and more. Compare 20th Century computer technology to the computer technology used on the Starship Enterprise."

Excerpts of copyrighted sources are included for review purposes only, without any intention of infringement.


  • Foreword, pp. IX-X
  • Preface, pp. XI-XII
  • Guide, pp. XIII-XVIII
  • Introduction, p. XIX
  • Chapter 1: Tracing the Path of the Letter 0, pp. 1-3
    • Storing the Press of a Key, pp. 4-7
    • Displaying a Key Press, pp. 8-9
    • Printing a Key Press, pp. 10-12
  • Chapter 2: The Core of the Personal Computer: The System Unit, pp. 13-15
    • Inside the System Unit of a Twentieth Century PC, pp. 16-19
    • A Closer Look at the CPU or Microprocessor, pp. 20-22
    • The PC's Bus, pp. 23-25
    • A Closer Look at RAM, pp. 26-28
  • Chapter 3: A Closer Look at the Microchip, pp. 29-30
    • How a Microchip Was Build, pp. 31-32
    • How a Microchip Stored Information, pp. 33-36
  • Chapter 4: Input Devises, p. 37
    • The Keyboard, pp. 38-39
    • The Mouse, pp. 40-42
    • The Trackball, pp. p. 43
    • Graphic Tablets, pp. 44-45
    • Scanners, pp. 46-47
    • Touch Screens, pp. 48-49
    • Musical Interfaces, pp. 50-52
  • Chapter 5: Output Devices, p. 53
    • The Monitor, pp. 54-57
    • Printers, pp. 58-64
  • Chapter 6: Storage Devices, p. 65
    • Hard Disk Drives, pp. 66-69
    • How Information Was Saved to a Hard Disk, pp. 70-72
    • Diskettes and Floppy Disk Drives, pp. 73-74
    • CD-ROM, pp. 75-78
    • Flopticals and Magneto-Optical Disks, pp. 79-81
    • Tape Drivers, pp. 82-84
  • Chapter 7: Data Transfer, p. 85
    • Modems, pp. 86-92
  • Chapter 8: Networks, p. 93
    • Local Area Networks, pp. 94-97
    • Network Architecture, pp. 98-100
    • Wide Area Networks, pp. 101-104
  • Chapter 9: Operating Systems and User Programs, p. 105
    • The Role of the Operating System, , pp. 106-108
    • How MS-DOS Managed Its Tasks, pp. 109-111
    • How MS-DOS Managed Memory, pp. 112-117
    • The Role of Software, pp. 118-120
    • Popular Types of Applications, pp. 121-124
  • Chapter 10: Emerging Technologies of the Late Twentieth Century, p. 125
    • Robots and Cybernetics, pp. 126-128
    • Artificial Intelligence, pp. 129-134
    • Artificial Life, pp. 135-136
    • Virtual Reality, pp. 137-138
    • Fractals, pp. 139-141
    • Morphing, p. 142
    • Chaos, p. 143
    • Nanotechnology, pp. 144-146
  • Appendix: Galaxy-class Starship Computer Systems, pp. 147-152
  • Index, pp. 153-161

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