Doctor Richard Daystrom was one of the most influential Human scientists of the 23rd century. Daystrom, who was born in 2219, was considered a genius in his day, and was compared to such minds as Albert Einstein, Kazanga, and Sitar of Vulcan. He was the inventor of the comptronic and duotronic computer systems.
In 2243, at the age of twenty-four, Daystrom made the duotronic breakthrough, which won him the Nobel and Zee-Magnees Prizes. However, he felt under-appreciated by his peers and successors, and resented them for developing improvements based on his work, while he was, in essence, left behind.
In response, he devoted his full vigor to the development of the multitronic computer system to create a successful artificial intelligence. This culminated in the M-5, a computer system sophisticated enough to smoothly control a starship by itself, possibly precluding the need for organic crews.
In 2268, during a test run with the system on the USS Enterprise, the M-5 started displaying erratic and violent behavior. This included seizing control of nonessential systems, attacking a freighter, the Woden, without provocation, reacting to war games with other starships with full strength attacks, jeopardizing 1,600 lives, and resisting efforts to be disconnected.
It was revealed that Daystrom's programming of the system used his own personality engrams as a model for the computer's personality, which included psychological problems he had. Unfortunately, Daystrom was mentally unstable and had a nervous breakdown aboard the Enterprise that required him to be subdued, while the M-5 was convinced that the deaths it caused required it to commit suicide. Dr. Daystrom was committed to a mental rehabilitation facility in 2268, after the incident. (TOS: "The Ultimate Computer")
None of this appeared to have much impact on the esteem granted Daystrom and his work. The Daystrom Institute, one of the most prominent Federation research centers, was named after him, as was the Daystrom Award. (TNG: "The Measure Of A Man", "Eye of the Beholder")
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Background information Edit
Richard Daystrom was played by William Marshall. He filmed his scenes between Thursday 7 December 1967 and Monday 11 December 1967, and on Wednesday 13 December 1967 and Thursday 14 December 1967 on Desilu Stage 9.
In an early draft of TNG: "Booby Trap", the character which became Leah Brahms was instead to have the surname "Daystrom", and she was to be Dr. Daystrom's great-great-granddaughter. The TNG casting department didn't realize this would call for a black actress to play the role until after Susan Gibney had been cast for the part. Although the character was thereafter renamed (at the suggestion of Script Coordinator Eric A. Stillwell), the Daystrom link was retained by referring to her as having graduated from the Daystrom Institute. (Star Trek Encyclopedia; )
Richard Daystrom appears in the novel The Rift by Peter David, as one of several Federation scientists who accompany Kirk on an embassy to a reclusive and advanced race, the Caligar. Daystrom confides that, although many consider his intellect to be undiminished, his confidence has deserted him, making him incapable of any new ideas. In an epilogue to the novel, however, Daystrom combines observations of the Caligar's technology with his previously discarded M-5 research, to produce the forerunner of the 24th century holodeck.