Data, played by Brent Spiner, is a character in the Star Trek fictional universe. An android, Lieutenant Commander Data served as the second officer and chief operations officer aboard the starships Enterprise-D and the Enterprise-E. more...
Data appeared throughout the Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) television series and in later movies.
Data was an artificial lifeform designed to resemble a human, with a positronic brain. He was roughly the counterpart of Spock from the original series in that he had a rational, analytical mind and found humans hard to understand, yet was drawn to the concept of humanity. (He also found Vulcan perspectives regarding logic and stoicism rather limiting.) This desire, combined with his honesty and apparent innocence about the reality around him, charmed viewers and made him one of the most popular characters of the series.
Data's name is properly pronounced "dayta," as opposed to the alternate pronunciation "datta". This was addressed in a second season episode of TNG when Data corrected Dr. Katherine Pulaski who used the latter pronunciation (TNG: "The Child").
Data's creation was originally a mystery. Having been rescued by Starfleet officers from Omicron Theta, a planet where almost all life had been destroyed by the Crystalline Entity, Data decided to join Starfleet as a career. After attending Starfleet Academy and graduating with honors degrees in probability mechanics and exobiology (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint", "The Measure of a Man"), Data served with distinction on the Enterprises-D and -E, with the rank of lieutenant commander. Data held some of Starfleet's highest honors including the Starfleet Command Decoration for Valor; Starfleet Command Decoration for Gallantry; Medal of Honor, with Clusters; Legion of Honor; and the Starcross ("The Measure of a Man").
The first season episode "Datalore" revealed that Data was created by Dr. Noonien Soong, a cyberneticist. Data's construction followed Dr. Soong's previous, less successful attempt at an artificial humanoid life form, named Lore, who became a recurring character on TNG. Lore was more or less Data's "evil twin", although they refered to each other as "brother." In Lore's first appearance, he deactivated Data in an attempt to take over the Enterprise-D and offer its crew to the Crystalline Entity. In the seventh-season episode "Inheritance", Data meets Soong's wife, Dr. Juliana Tainer, who tells him that a total of seven androids of Data's type were constructed, but that they were prone to cascade neural failures and were all short-lived.
In 2365, cyberneticist Commander Bruce Maddox obtained permission to have Data reassigned for study, wherein he would be deactivated, disassembled, and duplicated (with his knowledge and memories dumped into a computer and thereafter transferred back), possibly destroying him in the process. Data refused, and sought and won a legal judgment – with the aid of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, his commanding officer on the Enterprise-D (and -E), as his legal counsel – declaring him a sentient being with the same rights as other Federation citizens ("The Measure of a Man").
Desiring to reproduce, Data created an android daughter, Lal, in 2366. She exceeded Data's abilities, using verbal contractions and feeling some emotions. Unfortunately, she became scared when Starfleet scientists wanted to relocate her away from Data, and – overwhelmed – she suffered a cascade neural failure and died shortly after being activated. She told Data, "I love you, father," but Data was incapable of reciprocating ("The Offspring").
Data was thought lost in a shuttle accident in 2366, but had in fact been kidnapped by fraudulent antiquities dealer Kivas Fajo. Fajo was subsequently arrested and Data released ("The Most Toys").
During the Borg invasion of the Federation in 2366-7, Data successfully interfaced with Locutus of Borg (an assimilated Captain Picard who was abducted then rescued), accessed the Borg collective consciousness, and introduced a command into a low-level program pathway that forced the Borg to regenerate. This action effectively "put them to sleep," halted their advance, and caused the Borg ship to self-destruct in Earth orbit ("The Best of Both Worlds").
In 2367, Data was taken over by a homing signal generated by Dr. Soong, who intended to give Data a basic emotion chip which Soong had perfected in secret after being thought dead. The homing signal compelled Data to commandeer the Enterprise-D and bring it to Soong's lab on Terlina III. Unfortunately, the homing signal summoned Lore as well, who tricked Soong into giving him the chip and then killed him ("Brothers").
In 2368, Data's head was discovered in an archeological dig in San Francisco. The ensuing investigation sent Data, later followed by several senior Enterprise-D officers, to late 19th century San Francisco. Data's presence set up a number of temporal paradoxes involving Guinan, who had been present on Earth at that time, and the senior staff. Jack London and Mark Twain appear in the episode. Data's head was blown off in the 19th century; the officers escaped with his body, but Captain Picard was left behind. Picard implanted a message into the head, and when it was reattached hundreds of years later, the crew were able to avoid catastrophe and rescue him ("Time's Arrow").
In 2370, Data was kidnapped by Lore and coerced through Lore's manipulation of Soong's aforementioned emotion chip into aiding an insurrection by the Borg. After the threat to the Federation was dealt with, Data was forced to disassemble his brother. From Lore, Data obtained the emotion chip which Soong had originally intended for him ("Descent").
Later in 2370, Data met a woman who appeared to be Dr. Juliana Tainer, the widow and collaborator of Dr. Soong; in a sense, Data's mother. However, she turned out to be an android constructed by Dr. Soong after the original Dr. Tainer died; she had, unlike Data, been unaware of her nature as an android. Dr. Tainer eventually divorced Dr. Soong and remarried ("Inheritance").
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