- See Cochrane for other articles with titles that contain, either by relationship or by coincidence, this character's surname.
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
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 mother was Lisa Cochrane. (ST novel: Starfleet Academy) He was called "Zef" or "Zee" by his friends. (TNG novel: Imzadi; ST reference: The Worlds of the Federation; TNG novelization: First Contact)
- 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. 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.
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. 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)
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.
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)
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)
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 April 2063, Cochrane successfully broke the light speed barrier with his experimental warp drive aboard the test vessel Phoenix. The following day, he made first contact with the Vulcans. (TNG movie: First Contact) Cochrane was actually researching something else and stumbled on the concept of warp drive. (TOS novel: First Frontier)
The installation in Bozeman, Montana where he worked on his warp drive was attacked by a Borg vessel which had traveled back in time to prevent 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)
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")
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 later left Earth, eventually settling on Alpha Centauri. 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). (ENT episode: "Broken Bow") Cochrane also married Monica Burke, granddaughter of John Burke. (TNG novel: Federation)
In 2117, Cochrane left his home on Alpha Centauri, eventually settling on planetoid Gamma Caneris IV, where he survived with the help of a cloud-creature he called 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")
- The dates given by Maxwell Forrest in 2151 indicate the Warp Five Complex was dedicated in 2119. StarTrek.com still uses the Star Trek Encyclopedia date of 2117.
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.
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)
Behind the scenes
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.
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