- See Cochrane for other articles with titles that contain, either by relationship or by coincidence, this character's surname.
Zefram Cochrane (also known as Zephram Edark Cochrane) was a Human male who lived in the mid 21st century, famous for being the first human to build a warp capable starship. Though his reasoning for the science was motivated by self-interest, his legacy would live on for centuries as it laid for the foundations for the Coalition of Planets and eventually the United Federation of Planets, ushering in a new era of galactic peace.
Zefram Cochrane was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in the early 2030s. His father was Jesse Cochrane and his mother was Hilde Cochrane; both were teachers. (ST reference: Federation: The First 150 Years; ST novel: Federation)
- There are differing accounts of Cochrane's exact date of birth: The Star Trek: First Contact novelization gives the year of his birth as 2013, yet referred to him as being an "adolescent" in the mid-2040s. His first name was also spelled as "Zephram" here, and in TNG novel: Imzadi. Federation: The First 150 Years states January 27, 2031. StarTrek.com gives Cochrane's birth year as 2030.
At some point, Cochrane acquired a United States ten-dollar piece, with Lady Liberty on the front, and Ares IV on the back. It would become his "lucky coin," and he would keep it for many years, often using it to make critical decisions for him. (ST novel: Preserver)
- Ares IV is spelled "Aries IV" in the novel, and is identified as a Mars lander. Since the Ares IV mission was not launched until 2032 ("One Small Step"), either this was in error and the coin depicted one of the earlier Ares missions, or perhaps the Ares mission program itself.
In 2044, the adolescent Cochrane was diagnosed with a particularly severe kind of bipolar disorder, though it had not yet begun to manifest. He received a cerebral implant to treat the condition. The implant required replacement once a decade in order to remain effective. His physician assured him that medical science would soon advance to the point where a single alteration to the bad gene would be able to permanently cure the condition and the implant would no longer be necessary. From that point on, Cochrane didn't think about his condition much, viewing it as a simple medical curiosity which had no impact on his life. (TNG novelization: Star Trek: First Contact)
Throughout his childhood and early life, Cochrane traveled the world with his parents, and lived in Hawaii, London, India, and Seoul. Cochrane grew up with a love for science, as his parents were academics. He had a rough adolescence because of the fallout from various wars and conflicts and learned to internalize his love of science. He attended MIT, but left after three years without earning a degree. (ST novel: Federation)
Early research and World War III
As interest in science went down around the country, Cochrane got a job with a military contractor, at one of the last places with an active science lab. There, he began designing antimatter weapons, as he was fascinated with matter/antimatter reactions and it was the only way to access the latest research. (ST reference: Federation: The First 150 Years)
- That research may have been the antimatter weapons mentioned above.
Golden Press's The Enterprise Logs Volume 4, in the short story "From Sputnik to Warp Drive", places Zefram Cochrane's invention of warp drive in 2050 and identifies him as a young physics student on Earth, at the time. His invention is stated as a factor in Earth's victories during the Earth-Kzin Wars.
After a nuclear exchange in 2053, the war was finally over, and Cochrane finally made the move he'd been preparing for. He took his team to a secret missile base in Montana, and he had a computer expert erase the base from databases so they could work without being disturbed. (ST reference: Federation: The First 150 Years)
In 2055, Cochrane began to experience symptoms of his bipolar disorder during the the aftermath of the war. His manic periods drove him to obsess over his work, and at one point, he spent ten days straight in the missile silo, working without food or water. After the inevitable crash and downward spiral into depression, he returned to the silo and saw he'd accomplished two months work in less than two weeks. He scoured the surrounding states for a replacement implant, but found none, and so he began self-medicating with alcohol in order to manage his condition. His team and the townsfolk blamed his erratic behavior on the alcohol, and he was too ashamed to admit the truth to them. (TNG novelization: Star Trek: First Contact)
As Cochrane intellectually understood the possibility of faster than light travel, his team began an extensive review of the physical sciences, with the hope that this would lead to greater understanding of ideas relevant to faster than light propulsion. This lead to his invention of a device known as a fluctuation superimpeller, which was a critical component of his continuum distortion propulsion engines - which would be nicknamed warp drive. (TNG reference: Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual; ST novel: Federation)
During this period, Cochrane and his team had limited funds, and had to make a choice between crystallizing either lithium or rubidium for the engine's focus core. "Desperate and drunk," according to Lily Sloane years later, Cochrane flipped his lucky coin to make the decision, and chose lithium. (ST novel: Preserver)
Some of Cochrane's early experiments in continuum distortion were carried out at Kashishowa Station on Luna. During one of these experiments on August 8th, 2053, an engineering failure of the test facility's lithium converter resulted in an uncontrolled matter-antimatter reaction, causing an explosion, and also creating a runaway continuum distortion which made a pressurized dome literally disappear from the face of the moon. This event gave rise to rumors that Cochrane was developing a "warp bomb", and those rumors would draw unwanted attention for the rest of his life. Shortly after the Kashishowa incident, Cochrane appeared in a hearing before the Lunar Safety Board, and testified for three days. Weapons research was not allowed on the moon, and the Board threatened to suspend his residency permit, but he was able to convince them that his research was not weapons-oriented, and that in fact, the explosion was proof that the continuum distortion generator he was developing as a precursor to the superimpellor had no possible military application whatsoever. (ST novel: Federation)
The assembly of the warp drive would take about a decade, with difficulties in scrounging up materials. It was also a challenge to keep the team fed for such a long time. (ST reference: Federation: The First 150 Years)
In 2058, Cochrane, based at "Earth Station Bozeman," coordinated with the L-5 Colonies in Earth orbit in a test to generate a stable subspace field. Unfortunately, a critical error occurred during the test, and all six colonies disappeared, presumed destroyed. (TLE novel: The Sundered)
On April 4, 2063, the installation in Bozeman, Montana where Cochrane and his team worked on the prototype warp vessel Phoenix was attacked by a Borg vessel which had traveled back in time to prevent humanity's first contact with the Vulcans. Their attempt failed, due to the actions of the crew of the USS Enterprise-E, who aided Cochrane in repairing the warp vessel and defeating the Borg. This gave Cochrane some knowledge of what threats were present in space. (TNG movie: First Contact)
The following day, April 5, 2063, Cochrane launched the Phoenix, and joined by William T. Riker and Geordi La Forge, successfully broke the light speed barrier. That night, he made first contact with the Vulcans when they landed near Bozeman. (TNG movie: First Contact)
Before the Enterprise crew returned to the 24th century, Dr. Beverly Crusher used advanced medicine from her time to cure Cochrane of his bipolar disorder. She administered a memory suppressant to both Cochrane and Lily Sloane, to prevent their knowledge of future events from affecting the timeline. The treatment was effective on Sloane, but the next morning, Cochrane awoke with his memories intact. He debated telling the Vulcans about the Borg, and flipped his lucky coin to make the decision. (ST novel: Preserver)
- It is theorized in Preserver that this coin flip was the decision point which created the mirror universe.
During his commencement address at Princeton University in 2064, Cochrane claimed that "a group of cybernetic creatures from the future" attempted to stop his first warp flight but they were prevented from doing so by "a group of Humans who were also from the future". Given his propensity for being intoxicated and telling imaginative tales, his claims were ignored. He eventually recanted the story and it was mostly forgotten. Aside from this, he kept his knowledge of the future a secret. (ENT episode: "Regeneration")
Flight to Alpha Centauri
Some time later, Cochrane made his first long-term warp flight aboard the Bonaventure (C1-21), a round-trip of two hundred and forty-three days to Alpha Centauri, where he became the first human to set foot on another world, Alpha Centauri B II. He later recalled recklessly removing his breathing mask, taking in air no human had ever tasted before. Suffering no ill effects other than a sinus headache for two days and some grit in his eyes, Cochrane pondered that humans might be meant to visit other worlds unencumbered by such protective equipment.
Less than fifty hours after returning to the Sol system, Cochrane met with his friend and benefactor Micah Brack at the domed settlement of Christopher's Landing on Titan. Brack Interplanetary had funded Cochrane's superimpellor research, and Brack himself had begun looking towards establishing extrasolar colonies. With groups like the Optimum Movement on the rise, he wanted to ensure the survival of the human race should another global war threaten to wipe out all life on Earth. During their meeting, word came to Titan that Colonel Adrik Thorsen was on his way, looking for Cochrane in the belief that his invention could be weaponized. At Brack's urging, Cochrane fled the system for Centauri B II. He would not return to Earth for more than a decade. (ST novel: Federation)
- According to Federation, written before First Contact established its details of Cochrane's flight, the events described above took place in 2061. According to the novel, he did not return to Earth for 17 years.
Funded by Brack, Cochrane helped establish an outpost on Centauri B II, and continued his research there. By 2074, the outpost had begun to transition into a self-sustaining farming colony, a process which would take four years. In 2078, near the height of the Post-Atomic Horror, Cochrane returned to Earth, and ran afoul of the Optimum Movement in London. He was abducted to the Optimum headquarters beneath Battersea Stadium, where he came face to face with Col. Thorsen, who was convinced that Cochrane was hiding the secret of a warp bomb. With the help of astronomer Sir John Burke and his granddaughter, Monica, Cochrane escaped and returned to Centauri B II, where he continued his work, threatening Thorsen with his non-existent "warp bomb" if he ever came after them. (ST novel: Federation)
Cochrane was the author of The Potential of Warp Propulsion. The book was published with a typo and, according to legend, Cochrane physically corrected the error in one copy and signed his name in the book. (DS9 - Day of Honor novel: Honor Bound)
Cochrane eventually settled permanently on Centauri B II, making his home at the Lazy Eight Ranch in Micah Township, and marrying Monica Burke. Two of his other colleagues were Montcalm Daystrom, an ancestor of the creator of duotronics Richard Daystrom, and Henry Archer, scientist and father of the famous Jonathan Archer, first captain of Starfleet's first Warp 5 capable craft, Enterprise (NX-01). (ST novel: Federation; ENT episode & novelization: Broken Bow)
In 2117 or 2119, Cochrane gave a speech dedicating the Warp Five Complex on Earth. After his return to Alpha Centauri, Monica died in a vehicular crash, and two days later Cochrane learned it was not an accident. Adrik Thorsen had survived the fall of the Optimum Movement, and had come to Alpha Centauri to claim Cochrane's "bomb." Thorsen also committed acts of sabotage at the Cochrane Foundation, resulting in the deaths of many of Cochrane's colleagues and students, though this was written off as an accident by the authorities. To prevent further deaths, Cochrane prepared to leave his home for the final time, filing filing a flight plan for Stapledon Center at Wolf 359. In reality, this was a false trail for Thorsen to follow, and Cochrane never arrived. (ST novel: Federation)
- The dates given by Maxwell Forrest in 2151 indicate the Warp Five Complex was dedicated in 2119. StarTrek.com still uses the The Star Trek Encyclopedia date of 2117.
History recorded Cochrane's disappearance in deep space, but he was eventually found by an energy-based life-form that called itself the Companion, who took him to planetoid Gamma Caneris IV, where he was rejuvinated and lived another hundred and fifty years, a young man again, but alone apart from the Companion. In 2267, Cochrane was discovered alive by Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise. While he initially wanted to leave the planet with Kirk to see the Federation he'd helped create, the Companion wouldn't let him. The Companion merged with a dying Federation administrator, Nancy Hedford, and married Cochrane, who fell in love with her when she was in a human body. (TOS episode: "Metamorphosis")
On stardate 5803.6, the Enterprise encountered Cochrane and The Companion again. The Enterprise had entered the Caneris region searching for missing Hyperwarp ships which had disappeared from the region. Unable to solve the problem, they visited Cochrane and asked for help. Despite The Companion's objections, Cochrane helped modify the Enterprise's engines to be able to travel up to speeds of warp 15. Unfortunately, Cochrane's assistance allowed the Enterprise to accidentally enter an alternate universe from which The Companion originates. The Companion, having followed the Enterprise through the rift, was almost forced to stay, but the warp 15 drive was able to return them to normal space. (TOS comic: "A Warp in Space")
Later in the 2260s, Cochrane and the Companion were mysteriously relocated to the planet Sumoc I in the Trexelian Expanse. Cochrane had no memory of how this happened; he just woke up one morning in a different place. There, he was discovered by the crew of the USS Trexelprise. They brought him on board, where he used the ship's records to search for his wife, Nancy Hedford. When he failed to find her, he nearly died of cardiac arrhythmia, but the ship's doctors were able to save him.
To discourage the emotional distress that had caused the incident, the crew put him to work on the warp engines. He began to work toward improving their efficiency, but as he did so, he discovered a strange pattern within them, caused by the presence of the Companion nearby. He soon discovered that the Companion had somehow been separated from Hedford, and was located in caves on the planet's surface. She was discovered and beamed up to the ship as well. The Companion helped the crew liberate a group of trapped energy beings on the planet's surface. Shortly after that, Cochrane and the Companion were delivered to the Trexelian Embassy, a starbase within the expanse. (ST video game: Trexels)
The two died together in May 2366 after being rescued from Adrik Thorsen by the USS Enterprise-D. For their final moments, Cochrane requested that the ship be positioned so they could see the stars they were familiar with. (TNG novel: Federation)
- Much of Cochrane's backstory established in Federation was superseded by the film Star Trek: First Contact, and events from the novel may represent a different continuity.
Cochrane's legacy lived on long after his death. Many buildings and statues are raised in his honor. On Starfleet Academy's grounds a huge statue of him stands pointing to the sky, very much like many other statues of him previously had. Leonard McCoy remembers Cochrane's cheekbones being placed differently, as opposed to the depiction of him, while talking to Kirk over a bottle of Chateau Picard, in 2270. (NF novel: Stone and Anvil; ENT episode: "Broken Bow"; TNG movie: First Contact; ST novel: Federation)
Cochrane also had the unsung distinction of not only being one of the few to have met William T. Riker, Henry Archer and James T. Kirk, in this order. But, his pivotal role in history may have brought forth the mirror universe. His decision shaped events by his choosing (or not) to inform the Vulcans about the impending Borg presence. After confiding with Lily Sloane, his actions are one of the catalysts that made Starfleet's charter of war, rather than exploration. It was unknown if the Vulcan science community accepted the time travel aspect. As any way, shape or form of it has been refuted, ex post facto. (ST novels: Spectre, Dark Victory, ENT episode: "Awakening")
In an alternate timeline where Montgomery Scott rescued James T. Kirk before he could be absorbed into the Nexus, the Borg were not stopped by Captain Picard, and Cochrane was not successful in his warp flight and attracting the Vulcans; the Borg went on to assimilate Earth. (Star Trek novel: Engines of Destiny)
- "Don't try to be a great man, just be a man and let history make its own judgments." (TNG movie: First Contact)
- Certain novels and RPGs such as FASA sources given an alternate account on Zefram Cochrane which predate his appearance in the movie First Contact. In these versions, Cochrane is revealed to be a human inhabitant of Alpha Centauri which had developed its own separate human civilization and was the inventor of the warp drive. TOS novel: Memory Prime states that Cochrane was a Centauran with his true name being Zeyafram Co'akran.
- The novel Federation predates Star Trek: First Contact, and it used the first edition Star Trek Chronology date of 2061 for Cochrane's warp flight, aboard the Bonaventure (based on the ship from TAS); the flight was depicted as a trip to Alpha Centauri, and took place shortly before World War III (based on the dates of the "post-atomic horror" mentioned in "Encounter at Farpoint"), rather than in the aftermath. Therefore Federation and First Contact may exist in different continuities; however not all the information is necessarily contradictory, and if First Contact dates are used, the flight to Alpha Centauri could be interpreted as Cochrane's first long-term warp trip, after the brief first test seen on April 5, 2063.