The "PC" Props of Star Trek TOS, Part 6
The sixth of a seven part series that will analyze and detail the computer props as seen in the original series of Star Trek.
The sixth installment in our succession of articles detailing the original series computers will discuss the type 5 prop. The type 5 units are different from the previous types that we have looked at in that they were designed to be only wall mounted units. The housing was not such that it could be used on a table top like all previous versions of these props that we have been studying. There were two Type 5 computers and like the Type 4A models they made their first appearance in the episode "The Galileo Seven" as part of the interior wall mounted instruments of the shuttlecraft. Both were "hero" models with working lights and switches. These computer props were smaller than the type 4A. The type 5 computers stood out more than any other of the original series computers because of the unusual arrangement of the lights. The type 5 computers were flat faced grey rectangular units with 21 seemingly randomly staggered lights and four switches mounted under the lights in a side to side configuration (as opposed to the up & down configuration on the Type 4A units). There were two of the familiar mounting tubes on the face at each end of the switch bank and also 4 screws that connected the face to the body. Each unit measured approximately 12" long and 8" high. They were identifiable by the colored lights which were unique to each unit. As we know this was the norm for the computer props. The switch colors also were distinctive on each unit. As mentioned earlier the type 5 computers only appeared as wall mounted units and in some episodes it appears that only the front face of the panel was used; without the body portion. These type 5 units were first seen as the camera panned through the shuttlecraft interior during the beginning teaser of the episode “The Galileo Seven.” They were located adjacent to the character Gaetano's station. The units were in a stacked configuration in the shuttlecraft. We will identify the top unit as "Alpha" and the bottom unit as "Beta."
The first appearance of the type 5 units from the episode “The Galileo Seven.” “Alpha” is the top unit and “Beta” the bottom.
Here from the same episode we see the type 5 units powered down. This gives a great view of the unusual arrangement of the lights.
Because of the smaller size of the type 5 units; in many episodes they could be seen together as part of some instrumentation for a particular episode. As we know from our previous study of the other units; the lighted resin jewels were typically different colors on each unit and the same is true of the type 5 units. The easiest way to distinguish them however is by the switch colors. On “Alpha” the switch colors from left to right were: white, red, black and white. On the “Beta” unit the switch colors were; black, red, white and black. As with the previous Type 4 models the Type 5 units also appeared several times in part one of the episode "The Menagerie." They appeared both as part of the shuttlecraft interior instrumentation and also they could be seen mounted in the base of the larger console computers in the Starbase Operations room. In the episode "The Alternative Factor" we saw both “Alpha” and “Beta” mounted to the wall panel in the engineering section that housed the dilithium crystals. These type 5 units were very versatile and non-descript such that they could be added as set-dressing and kind of blend into the background whenever a few switches and lights were needed. They could be turned in any direction which added to the flexibility of the type 5 making them appear as different instrument packages. This is evident between the “Alternative Factor” and "The Return of the Archons" episodes where the type 5 units were used in completely different roles. In “The Return of the Archons” both "Alpha" and "Beta" were part of a major story element as components of the absorption chamber control console. Between those two episodes we saw the type 5 units used in very different roles but still primarily as only part of the background set. An interesting note on the “Archons” console is that the perimeter of the console itself was covered with perforated cardboard.
“Alpha” installed upside down in part one of “The Menagerie”
“Beta” also from part one of “The Menagerie”
On the right hand side we saw a quick view of both units in the shuttlecraft also from part one of the episode “The Menagerie”
Both units are seen together from the episode “The Alternative Factor”
Despite the obvious problem stemming from the sabotage of the engineering section; we got a good view of both units in the episode “The Alternative Factor”
Both type 5 units mounted on the console from the absorption chamber from the episode “The Return of the Archons.” “Alpha” is on the left and “Beta” on the right hand side of the console.
Here we can see “Beta” and also the corrugated cardboard that was covering the perimeter of the console.
Both units seemed to make another appearance together as part of war computers in the episode “Taste of Armageddon.” If you look closely however you will see that both are the “Beta” unit. The console unit that “Beta” was mounted to was moved from the front row as seen the first time the war room is shown to the back corner at the end of the episode. The reason being is that only one of the large console units had a flip down face (also seen in part one of “The Menagerie). Near the end of the episode when Spock is determining how the war computers were tied together; he must flip down the face of one. Obviously when the set was dressed they neglected to consider where the console that flipped down was and that was corrected later; moving “Beta” from the front row the back.
“Beta” at the bottom of a large console computer in the war room from the episode “A Taste of Armageddon”
“Beta” also appeared in a second location from the same episode when the consoles units were rearranged on the set.
The first appearance of a Type 5 in season two was in the episode "The Changeling" in the Auxiliary Control Room. We saw "Beta" mounted behind the metal screen wall on a section which was a reuse of the old engineering set from the first season engineering room. The original engineering console was changed when they added the ships ladder in the middle of the engineering set. The old left-over set piece was reused in the auxiliary control room set behind the screening. Funny that “Beta” was not there just a few episodes earlier in "The Doomsday Machine." This was just another example of how they continually tweaked the sets by adding set dressings and other greeblies as the series went on. We saw "Beta" again on the far side of the emergency manual monitor room in the episode “Mirror, Mirror.” It was located opposite of the access ladder to the set. Scotty went over and opened an access panel right below the unit in that episode. We saw "Beta" again in the same position in "I Mudd" when Norman was taking over the ship in the beginning teaser portion of the episode.
“Beta” in the Auxiliary Control room from “The Changeling”
Norman used the “Beta” unit to help take over the Enterprise in the episode “I Mudd”
A few episodes later we again saw "Beta" in two separate locations in the same episode. In "The Immunity Syndrome" it was in its familiar position in the emergency manual monitor but also it was aboard the shuttlecraft as part of one of the large console computers that was added to analyze the amoeba type organism. In the third season we saw the somewhat elusive "Alpha" in the position previously held by "Beta" in the auxiliary control room in the episode "And the Children Shall Lead." The first and only change to one of the units appeared in the episode "The Lights of Zetar" where the "Alpha" unit was painted black in its first appearance at "Beta's" previous position in the emergency manual monitor. “Alpha” remained at this position for the remainder of the series in the position that we saw “Beta” at in many episodes. We saw "Beta" a few episodes later in "The Way to Eden" in the auxiliary control room where "Alpha" was seen just a few episodes previously. It is interesting how they randomly moved the units around whenever they needed them and just stuck any unit in the slot. The random nature of the specific unit locations is a little confusing especially since after the first season these units mostly appeared in only 2 locations. Two units, two locations; why not just leave them in place? It's also funny how "Beta" seemed to be used much more then it's counterpart. Considering their limited screen time; the type 5 units may be the most recognizable of all the computer props due to the random pattern of the light arrangement which really made them stand out. It certainly catches your eye and makes most of us wonder what they were thinking when they drilled out the face. The pattern of the lights had no rhyme or reason to it but still created an interesting look on camera.
“Beta” in the Emergency Manual Monitor in the episode “The Immunity Syndrome”
“Beta” also appeared in the shuttlecraft in “The Immunity Syndrome”
“Alpha” in the back of the Auxiliary Control Room from the episode “And the Children Shall Lead”
“Alpha” was painted black in this scene from “The Lights of Zetar”
“Beta” in the background of the Auxiliary Control Room from the episode “Way to Eden”
Next up the Type 6 (http://theomegasecto...rek-tos-part-7/)