Ferengi history reaches back at least 10,000 years, which is the amount of time it took to establish the Ferengi Alliance. The most significant events of early Ferengi history were the invention of currency and the concept of profit, as well the creation of the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition by Gint, the first Grand Nagus. Although this cemented their greedy and materialistic society, Ferengi history avoided atrocities such as slavery (at least of males), concentration camps, and interstellar wars. (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar", "Little Green Men", "Body Parts")
A temporal incident known on Earth as Roswell Incident caused a quasi-first contact between three Ferengi from the future and Humans of the mid-20th century. The Ferengi's shuttle had accidentally performed a time warp en route to Earth and crashed on the planet in the year 1947. The United States of America, one of the Human nation-states of that era, treated the visitors with suspicion and would keep this incident a secret after the Ferengi managed to re-acquire their shuttle and return to their own time. (DS9: "Little Green Men")
Sometime thereafter, the Ferengi purchased warp drive technology and, by 2150, had begun to expand their commercial interests in the galaxy. Even at this point, however, the Ferengi were a mysterious race who were often only known through rumor. (ENT: "Acquisition"; DS9: "Little Green Men"; VOY: "False Profits")
By 2150, the Ferengi had visited Valakis, the homeworld of the Menk and the Valakians, the latter of which sought help to fight a medical crisis on their homeworld. As of 2151, T'Pol was unfamiliar with the name "Ferengi." (ENT: "Dear Doctor")
In 2151, Starfleet had their first encounter with the Ferengi, although they would not realize it for two more centuries. This initial encounter took place when four Ferengi marauders boarded Enterprise NX-01 after rendering its crew unconscious using a "Trojan Horse" device. The pirates attempted to plunder the starship of items they believed held value, but their plans were ultimately foiled by the Enterprise crew and the Ferengi's own greed. With Enterprise back under Starfleet control, the pirates, who never disclosed their species or allegiance, were allowed to leave with a warning not to plunder any more ships in the area. (ENT: "Acquisition")
Around the mid-24th century, the Great Monetary Collapse occurred on Ferenginar. It was described as "rampant inflation and currency devaluation that were burning like wildfires through the lush financial foliage of Ferenginar". (DS9: "Homefront")
Contact with the FederationEdit
In 2355, while Captain Jean-Luc Picard was in command of the USS Stargazer, Starfleet had another encounter with the Ferengi, although again it wouldn't be realized until nine years later. While traveling through the Maxia Zeta system, the USS Stargazer was attacked by an unidentified starship, damaging shields. This forced Captain Picard to perform a maneuver in which the Stargazer jumped into high warp, making it appear to the attackers that the ship was in two places at once. This tactic was so highly regarded by Starfleet that it was given the designation "the Picard Maneuver". During the ensuing confusion, the Stargazer was able to destroy the enemy vessel, but the damage to the Stargazer was substantial and the crew were forced to abandon the ship. (TNG: "The Battle")
By 2364, the United Federation of Planets was aware of the Ferengi, but had yet to make official first contact. For this reason, Federation scholars had to rely on rumors and hearsay, likening the Ferengi to "Yankee traders", American sailors of the 18th and 19th centuries who traveled Earth's oceans "in search of mercantile and territorial opportunity." Official first contact between the Federation and the Ferengi eventually occurred in 2364 in the Delphi Ardu system, where a Ferengi vessel and the USS Enterprise-D were trapped in orbit by a derelict outpost of the ancient Tkon Empire. The ship had originally stolen a Federation-owned T-9 energy converter from Gamma Tauri IV and the Enterprise was sent in pursuit. Despite some hostilities, the situation could be resolved peacefully and the Ferengi returned the converter. (TNG: "The Last Outpost")
Upon first contact with the Ferengi, Starfleet personnel observed the species to speak with broken English, often gasping and hissing, and moving in a cat-like "slinking" manner. Within the space of two years, however, the Ferengi had adapted to Federation mannerisms and later encounters had the Ferengi speaking perfect English and moving as a normal Human would. A carry-over which was (and still is) common among all Ferengi is to call Humans by the name "Hew-mons" instead of the correct pronunciation. (TNG: "The Price"; DS9: "Emissary")
In general, Ferengi values were fundamentally incompatible with those of the Federation and a few aggressive incursions against Starfleet would occur over the years following 2364. (e.g., TNG: "The Battle", "Peak Performance", "Rascals"; VOY: "Inside Man") Despite this, both sides maintained sufficient relations for Ferengi representatives to participate in Federation-hosted events, e.g., the negotiations for the Barzan wormhole and the biennial Trade Agreements Conference on Betazed in 2366, or for Starfleet ships to answer Ferengi distress calls. (TNG: "The Price", "Ménage à Troi", "The Perfect Mate")
Developments under Grand Nagus ZekEdit
Upon the (re-)discovery of the Bajoran wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant in 2369, the Ferengi Alliance under Grand Nagus Zek was the first Alpha Quadrant power to learn of the existence of the Dominion via its aggressive pursuit of new business opportunities beyond the wormhole. (DS9: "Rules of Acquisition", "The Jem'Hadar")
- At least 10,000 years ago: The establishment of the Ferengi Alliance with its profit-based society begins.
- 1947: Roswell Incident – On July 2nd, a Ferengi shuttle from the 24th century crashes in Roswell, Earth. Humans make First Contact with the Ferengi. The event is buried by the United States of America.
- 2150: By this year, the Ferengi have visited Valakis, whose pre-warp inhabitants are in desperate need of medical assistance.
- 2151: Ferengi marauders are unsuccessful in an attempt to loot the Earth Starfleet ship Enterprise, however, without disclosing their allegiance or species.
- Mid-24th century: Great Monetary Collapse – Rampant inflation and currency devaluation occurs on Ferenginar.
- 2355: Battle of Maxia – The USS Stargazer encounters a Ferengi ship commanded by Bok's son leading to a violent confontation.
- 2364: Official first contact between Humans and Ferengi occurs in the Delphi Ardu star system.
- 2366: The Ferengi unsuccessfully bid for the exclusive rights to the Barzan wormhole. Later that year, they participate in the biennial Trade Agreements Conference on Betazed.
- 2369: The Bajoran wormhole is discovered. Grand Nagus Zek sees vast profit to be made in the uncharted Gamma Quadrant.
- 2370: Zek launches his first attempt to trade with the Gamma Quadrant. He invites the Dosi to Deep Space 9, where he appoints Quark to open negotiations to buy tulaberry wine from them. The attempt inadvertently leads to the discovery of the Dominion by Alpha and Beta Quadrant powers.
- 2374: The Ferengi Bill of Opportunities is amended by Zek, under advice from Ishka to allow Ferengi females to wear clothing. Later that year, the Board of Liquidators considers allowing females to earn profit.
- 2375: Rom succeeds Zek as Grand Nagus of the Ferengi Alliance and ushers in an era of reform that includes the codification of rights for females.
Some fans of Star Trek were (at least initially) disgruntled about the Ferengi being encountered by Starfleet as early as the 22nd century in Star Trek: Enterprise, as the earlier-produced TNG: "The Last Outpost" seemed to involve the first contact between the two groups occurring later. Mike Sussman characterized the encounter in "Acquisition" as "probably one of the more controversial choices" in ENT Season 1. Responding to the fan complaints, Brannon Braga stated, "The crew [of Enterprise] never finds out what this species is called. We may even deal with that as we go along. But I think the [upset fans] perceived it as a 'screw you.'" Sussman concurred, "I think we structured the show in a way that preserves Picard's first contact with [the Ferengi] [....] Besides, every Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fan knows Earth's real first contact with the Ferengi was in Roswell in 1947!" (Star Trek: Communicator issue 139, pp. 27 & 50)
Quark actor Armin Shimerman commented, "What I found really interesting [....] was that it was the Ferengi who made the first contact with the major power in the Gamma Quadrant. It was the Ferengi who discovered the Dominion, which I think is wonderful." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 97)