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The Starfleet tricorder was the versatile, portable sensing device developed by Starfleet R&D specifically for use by Federation Starfleet personnel.

Varying models of the Starfleet tricorder were put into service, beginning as early as the 23rd century through the 24th century, lasting well into the 32nd century.

23rd century[]


Starfleet tricorder, 2233

Starfleet tricorder, 2233

In service aboard the early 2230s ship the USS Kelvin, the tricorder was a large flat device resembling a briefcase, complete with a handle for carrying the device. In the alternate reality, one was used to monitor the heavily pregnant Winona Kirk's health during the Narada's attack. (Star Trek)


Type A[]

Starfleet tricorder, 2256

Starfleet tricorder, 2256

The Type A tricorders were models older than the TS-120 Series (this included the model 120 and the 122). However, due to their sturdiness and dependability, many were in stock on the Enterprise, and were frequently used even when newer models were available.

"They never improved the design. Sure, they were made smaller, and more powerful, and less likely to explode." - Brad Boimler, Stardate 2291.6

Type B[]

Starfleet tricorder (2259)

Starfleet tricorder, 2259

By 2259, Starfleet introduced a new variant of the tricorder. Lieutenants Spock and La'an Noonien-Singh carried one during the USS Enterprise's mission to Kiley 279. A similar model (the TS-120) was used during their mission to Krulmuth-B, to examine the Krulmuth-B portal (The favorite portal of Ensign Boimler, USS Cerritos, circa 2370.) (SNW: "Strange New Worlds")


Starfleet tricorder, 2260s

Starfleet tricorder, 2268

"I love classic twenty third century designs. Black finish, silver highlights."
– Jadzia Dax, 2268 ("Trials and Tribble-ations")

In service during the mid-2260s, the standard Starfleet tricorder incorporated a segmented design. This tricorder, a generally square-shaped device, utilized three sections: a pivoting upper portion containing the display readout and controls; a compartmented mid-section containing data chips; and an adaptable lower portion, sometimes containing a hand-held sensor as with the medical tricorder. The tricorder of the 2260s was mostly black with silver trim and featured a leather-like strap, allowing one to sling the tricorder over the shoulder when not in use. (TOS: "The Naked Time")

Yeomen serving aboard Starfleet starships (such as Janice Rand aboard the USS Enterprise) often carried tricorders in order to record and retrieve information for the starship captain. More often however, the tricorder was standard equipment included on away missions. (TOS: "The Man Trap", "Charlie X")

These devices could also be set to transmit an automatic distress call. (TOS: "That Which Survives")

One of the Dax hosts owned this version of the tricorder, remembered fondly by Jadzia Dax. (DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations")

The original series tricorder was designed by Wah Chang. (Star Trek Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., p. 522)

A heavier version of the tricorder was also used by landing parties and aboard ship. This configuration sported a pistol-grip and its controls were located on the top of the unit. It was used primarily to detect contamination caused by ores and gases, as well as to register radiation and atmospheric pressure. (TOS: "The Naked Time", "The Enemy Within", "The Doomsday Machine", "Obsession")

This sensor device was first seen in "The Enemy Within". In "The Naked Time", Scotty noted that Spock and Tormolen's tricorders failed to register any contamination or unusual elements. Both characters carried the typical tricorders, but Spock also used the larger unit. Contrarily, the standard tricorder was used in favor of the larger unit for scanning inside Garrovick's quarters. The prop itself was a modified Nuclear-Chicago Model 2586 "Cutie Pie" radiation detector. [1][2]

See also[]


Tricorder, 2270s

A tricorder in use aboard the refit Enterprise in the 2270s

With the widespread redesign of many facets of Starfleet and Federation technology in the early 2270s, so too did the tricorder advance toward a new design.

Smaller than that of the 2260s, the new hand-held Starfleet tricorder was blue-gray in color and featured two grips on either side of the body. Controls and readout displays were located beneath a lid at the top of the device. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

This type of tricorder was still in use in the 2280s. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

Andrew Probert contributed designs for the The Motion Picture redesign of the tricorder. It appeared in the first and fourth Trek feature, but incorporated graphics that would later be echoed in the TNG-era tricorder.


As early as 2285, Starfleet personnel like those serving aboard the refit starship Enterprise had at their disposal at least two distinct versions of the Starfleet tricorder.

Type A[]

Starfleet heavy tricorder, 2285

Heavy-duty tricorder

Among the options was a heavy-duty tricorder, often used during landing parties. Bulkier than previous designs, this tricorder featured a handle and a large head featuring a line of blinking indicator lights. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Not shown in close-up, this large tricorder may have been intended only for landing parties. It was seen in Star Trek II only – first carried by Chekov and Clark Terrell during their visit to Ceti Alpha V, and again used by Saavik aboard Regula I. It was replaced in the next film by a more familiar design. This tricorder model was seen in "The Nth Degree" as part of Barclay's elaborate computer interface on the holodeck.

Type B[]

Starfleet tricorder, 2285

One tricorder option during the 2280s

Harking back to the designs of the 2260s, a second tricorder option in use during the mid-2280s featured a familiar square, black and silver design.

Much smaller than the heavy-duty version, this model featured a slide-up top studded with controls and indicator lights. Also incorporating a strap, the tricorder could be slung over the shoulder when not in use. Unlike its predecessors, this tricorder possessed control surfaces over much of the body of the instrument. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

This third movie-era tricorder was designed by the effects team at Industrial Light & Magic, a likely homage to the Star Trek: The Original Series model. It was the last 23rd century tricorder to be seen clearly on screen, except when we saw a glimpse of it in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier on Spock's use.

24th century[]


By the early 2360s, the Starfleet tricorder had taken on a more streamlined appearance, distinguished by a flip-open design maximizing both portability and interface surface availability.

Incorporating several sensor clusters, these tricorders featured multi-channel communications assemblies, and multiple databank modules. Encompassing visual displays and graphic touch pad interfaces, the tricorder of the 2360s provided easy means for on the spot archive retrieval, the recording of away mission events, and constant scientific measurements including biological, geographical or meteorological.

TR-560 Tricorder VI[]

Standard tricorder[]

Tricorder VI TR-560

The TR-560 in 2365

In service as early as 2361, the TR-560 Tricorder VI model sensing device was available to officers serving aboard such vessels as the USS Victory and the USS Enterprise-D. (TNG: "Identity Crisis", "Encounter at Farpoint") With an array of sensors on the front of the device, this tricorder design flipped open to reveal a large number of control surfaces and a square display screen, roughly the same size as those utilized as early as the 2260s.

This version of the tricorder was equipped with a small hand sensor, stowed below the sensors, similar to that of the medical tricorder. (TNG: "Angel One")

The TR-560 tricorder was capable of communicating with non-Starfleet computer systems and contained a built-in universal translator. Data used one of these tricorders to access and replay the logs of the captain of a Promellian battle cruiser discovered by the Enterprise in 2366. (TNG: "Booby Trap")

The tricorder was vulnerable to some computer viruses, even capable of transmitting them to other systems. A tricorder used by Data while investigating the Iconian homeworld fell victim to one of their viruses. In order to prevent propagation of the virus, Captain Jean-Luc Picard ordered the tricorder destroyed by Worf, who did so using a phaser. (TNG: "Contagion")

This version of the tricorder was not normally set up to detect neutrinos, nor was it typically designed to interface with a VISOR. Nevertheless, Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge was able to jury rig a tricorder to communicate with his VISOR and provide a bearing on a neutrino source when he was stranded on Galorndon Core in 2366. (TNG: "The Enemy")

This style of tricorder was designed by Rick Sternbach during preproduction of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In a series of sketches which were dated 6 February 1987 and which Probert prepared for construction bidders interested in building the props required for the show, a completed version of this tricorder design was shown. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 3rd ed., p. 11) In an article for Star Trek: The Magazine, Sternbach's first flip-open designs measured about 5¾ in. top to bottom, and about 3 in. wide, with a display screen designed to hold a 35 mm transparency, and the body painted "medium 'engineering gray.'" (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 1, pp. 22, 24)

The TR-560 (as it was labeled on the lower door) was used in the first two seasons of TNG only, reappearing once in "Identity Crisis" during scenes taking place in 2361.

Medical tricorder[]

See medical tricorder.

TR-580 Tricorder VII[]

Standard tricorder[]

Starfleet TR-580 tricorder

The TR-580 in 2370

In service between 2366 and 2372, the Starfleet TR-580 Tricorder VII succeeded the TR-560 Tricorder VI. Retaining the same basic shape as the previous design, the TR-580s also incorporated hand sensors, but this feature was eventually phased out by 2370. (TNG: "The Vengeance Factor"; DS9: "The Way of the Warrior")

TR-580s could be used for a variety of tasks, including recording time trials. (TNG: "Chain Of Command, Part I") This tricorder was also configured to perform proximity checks every two minutes (DS9: "Move Along Home") and was able to emit a photoplasmic trail to help locate lost crewmembers. (VOY: "Twisted")

One version of the TR-580 used by Jadzia Dax in 2370 featured a larger screen on the upper section. (DS9: "Blood Oath")

Mister Tricorder

Data with a TR-580 he nicknamed "Mr. Tricorder."

TR-580s were capable of detecting dampening fields and if doors were magnetically sealed. (TNG: "Chain Of Command, Part I"; Star Trek Generations; VOY: "Phage")

To prevent interference with objects, the TR-580 could be set to perform a passive scan. The model could also be locked into a continuous scan, thereby recording data, even when stowed. (TNG: "Schisms") Capable of communicating with non-Starfleet computer systems, the tricorder could be linked to other units, acting as a small computer network, easily relaying information to other locations. (TNG: "Brothers"; VOY: "Emanations", "Heroes and Demons")

Sensor emissions from TR-580s could cause unpredictable changes in certain temporal distortions, and sometimes included polaric fields, allowing a user to scan for subspace fractures caused by polaric detonation. (TNG: "Timescape"; VOY: "Time and Again")

TR-580s were stored in most equipment lockers aboard Federation starships though it was common for personnel to keep them in their quarters. (TNG: "Disaster", "The Game", "A Matter Of Time")

Starfleet sometimes distributed TR-580 model tricorders to Federation allied worlds, including Bajoran personnel on space station Deep Space 9. They could also be used by civilians, and were shipped en masse to areas in need, such as disaster sites. (TNG: "True Q"; DS9: "Babel", "Tears of the Prophets")

The standard TR-580 could function as a makeshift medical tricorder if necessary, although not all medical personnel were happy to do this. (TNG: "Time's Arrow, Part II"; DS9: "Emissary"; VOY: "Caretaker")

Individuals were instructed in the use of the TR-580 by reading the tricorder operations manual. (VOY: "Phage")

This second-generation TNG tricorder was built by Ed Miarecki for the third season of that series, based upon Rick Sternbach's original design. It first appeared in TNG: "The Vengeance Factor". It contained a more refined set of graphics and a number of additional blinking LEDs, especially active at the front of the unit. The model number "TR-580" was an in-joke tribute to the TRS-80, a 1980s home computer. (citation needededit)

Red tricorder[]

Red tricorder, Projections

A red tricorder in 2371

A variety of the standard tricorder appeared in USS Voyager's sickbay in the year 2371. Five tricorders of this type were included in little alcoves behind the three biobeds and to the left and right of the main entry to sickbay. (VOY: "Eye of the Needle") In 2372, these tricorders were replaced by PADDs. Similar tricorders were included in the same locations in sickbay aboard the USS Enterprise-E in 2373.

These tricorders were only seen in the first season of Star Trek: Voyager and in Star Trek: First Contact and were never seen in use. They were made out of wood and were removed from the set after the first season. Though they appeared in sickbay, they didn't feature the larger top section with the scanner normally associated with medical tricorders. (citation needededit)

Medical tricorder[]

See medical tricorder.

The medical version of the TR-580 tricorder was able to project holographic information and recordings, including those based on programs composed of algorithmic data collected from varying DNA strands crafted by a highly advanced civilisation. One such use case was on Vilmor II in 2369, where a scan of lichen growing in an ancient seabed resulted in the completion of a previously-stored partial DNA-based program, and its holographic playback from the tricorder. Holographic projection was used rarely, due possibly to substantial battery drainage. (TNG: "The Chase")


TR-590 Tricorder X[]

Standard tricorder[]

Mark X tricorder

The TR-590 Tricorder X

Succeeding the TR-580 Tricorder VII, the TR-590 Mark X tricorder was introduced sometime during 2371 (VOY: "Relativity", "Fury", "Shattered") and was used alongside the previous version until 2372. (VOY Season 1) It featured nearly identical control interfaces. The entire unit, however, was streamlined and made much smaller, featuring a more angular design. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior"; VOY: "Initiations") These tricorders were stored in most equipment lockers on board the USS Voyager. (VOY: "Relativity")

The Mark X tricorder could still function after being underwater. (DS9: "Rocks and Shoals"; Star Trek: Insurrection) It could also function in hostile environments such as temperatures of 500 Kelvin, (VOY: "Demon") the upper atmosphere of a planet, (VOY: "Rise") and planets suffering nuclear winter. (VOY: "Friendship One")

The upper component of the TR-590 was capable of interfacing with a Starfleet desktop monitor and projecting a recorded image from the tricorder onto the screen. (VOY: "Timeless") The Mark X tricorder could also upload data it acquired remotely to a Federation starship. (VOY: "Initiations", "Future's End", "Year of Hell", "Equinox", "Good Shepherd")

The Mark X tricorder could be prevented from attaining credible readings when subjected to concentrated thoron particles, a trick devised by the Maquis. (VOY: "Basics, Part II")

Borg neural processor

A Borg neural processor attached to a tricorder

While the USS Enterprise was in the year 2063, Captain Picard linked a Borg neural processor directly to a tricorder to learn of the Borg's plans to transform the deflector dish of the Enterprise into an interplexing beacon. (Star Trek: First Contact)

After an incident with the timeship Aeon threw Voyager back to 20th century Earth, Captain Kathryn Janeway used a tricorder of this type to to access secured files on a computer at Chronowerx Industries. (VOY: "Future's End")

The subspace waveguide in a tricorder of this model could be easily configured to generate a dispersion signal, preventing transporter lock. While under the influence of errant subroutines, The Doctor used a tricorder to prevent Voyager from locating him after he abducted Kes. (VOY: "Darkling")

Scans from this tricorder created an electrostatic cascade when interacting with charged methogenic particles. This would cause the particles to ignite. This occurred when a Voyager away team boarded a damaged Malon export vessel flooded with methogenic particles, preventing use of tricorders during the mission. (VOY: "Juggernaut")

Mark X tricorder, 2378

The darker cased TR-590 tricorder in 2378

The Mark X tricorder was reportedly heavy for its size as indicated by B'Elanna Torres when she received a small gift from Tuvok during a holodeck generated baby shower. Torres asked if it was her child's first tricorder as the gift was small yet heavy. (VOY: "Human Error")

First appearing at the beginning of Star Trek: Voyager season two and the beginning of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season four, the Mark X tricorder was designed by HMS Studios. (citation needededit) Like the previous evolution, it featured a number of additional LEDs along with a darker, more metallic coat of paint.

In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine game The Fallen, the player is able to use a TR-590 tricorder for a variety of purposes, including scanning people and objects and to determine shield frequencies.

Medical tricorder[]

See medical tricorder.

Wrist tricorder[]

A model of tricorder mounted in a arm/wrist brace was used in conjunction with holographic isolation suits during the Starfleet mission to the Ba'ku planet in 2375. (Star Trek: Insurrection)

Though not clearly seen or referenced in the film itself, the propmakers that helped construct the prop for the wrist tricorder confirm its presence and have produced replicas of the device. [3](X)


TR-590 Tricorder XI[]

The TR-590 Tricorder Mark XI was used concurrently with a new tricorder design that was also seen in 2379. (Star Trek Nemesis)

Although not clearly seen in the film, the label on the props can be read more clearly from the Christie's auction and other sources.

New tricorder[]

Starfleet Tricorder 2379

The Starfleet tricorder in 2379.

Introduced as late as 2379, yet another iteration of Starfleet tricorder departed from the distinct, flip-open style preceding it.

Distinguished by a slim, PADD-like appearance, the tricorder in use aboard such Starfleet vessels as the Enterprise-E in the late 2370s featured a large touchscreen interface. Silver in color, it was trimmed with black pads at the bottom and sides, with several buttons at the top. These buttons could be covered by a small hinged door, lined with indicator lights.

Among common data-gathering tasks, this version tricorder could be used to interface with starship systems including force field control.

The medical tricorder of the same make was identical. (Star Trek Nemesis)

Also used by the player in Star Trek: Elite Force II, this tricorder was never clearly identified by make or model. Clearly incorporating a small LCD screen, this tricorder was most likely created from a Palm Pilot-like device.


Purple-Striped Tricorder[]

Mariner and purple-striped tricorder

Beckett with tricorder

The purple-striped tricorder was introduced in 2380, and featured a thick purple stripe running down its front and back. Similar In function to other flip-open Starfleet tricorders, these were looked upon as fancier. Ensign Beckett Mariner requested a sentient energy sphere to make one for her, threatening to imprison it in a canister otherwise. (LD: "Envoys")

USS Protostar[]

Protostar tricorder

Collapsible tricorder

The USS Protostar was equipped with a type of collapsible tricorder. (PRO: "Dream Catcher", et al.)

Alternate tricorders[]

Tricorders have appeared in various alternate timelines.

Alternate reality[]

Tricorder, alternate reality

the tricorder in the alternate reality

In the alternate reality, the tricorder of the 2250s resembled its prime reality counterpart but was a smaller handheld device. Spock used the tricorder to activate a cold fusion device in the heart of a volcano on Nibiru in 2259. (Star Trek Into Darkness)

In Star Trek, the tricorder prop was used by Kirk as a communicator when marooned on Delta Vega.


Starfleet tricorder (2404)

A Starfleet tricorder in 2404

In a timeline erased due to the actions of Admiral Kathryn Janeway, a new version of the tricorder was in use by the year 2404.

An extension of the Mark X model, this tricorder featured the familiar hinged cover design, but contained more touch control surfaces in place of toggle switches. The casing was black or dark-gray. (VOY: "Endgame")


TR-890 Tricorder XV

The TR-890 Tricorder XV

During a possible version of the 29th century, the crew of the USS Relativity used a slim and sleek version of the tricorder, labeled a TR-890 Tricorder XV. Seven of Nine was given a TR-890 as she hunted for a temporal disruptor hidden on Voyager by Captain Braxton. (VOY: "Relativity")

In addition to the TR-890, a smaller, palm-sized device was in use during this period. Henry Starling found one aboard the Aeon and carried it with him at all times. He used it in an attempt to escape Voyager's transporter when the ship tried to retrieve the Aeon in 1996. (VOY: "Future's End, Part II")

As the timelines all of these tricorders were portrayed in were depicted in states of flux, none of these may represent "actual" future tricorder models.

32nd century[]

Tricom badge[]

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


Background information[]

In 2012, Scanadu announced the SCOUT, which has been described as the real-life tricorder. The US$150 device can show one's temperature, respiratory rate, electrocardiography, blood pressure (systolic, diastolic), stress and oximetry levels by scanning a person's left temple. [4]

Mike Lazaridis, inventor of the BlackBerry, has set up a fund to make the tricorder a reality using quantum technology. [5]


In the future 2400's timeline of Star Trek Online, tricorders are shown to have a more hinged design reminiscent of the Mark VI through X designs, including removable scanners. To perform various tasks, Starfleet, Klingon Defense Force and Romulan personnel all use tricorders in conjunction with other equipment (both worn and carried) capable of projecting "floating" holographic interfaces.