Star Fleet Technical Manual

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Title: Star Fleet Technical Manual (Note the variation in spelling between "Star Fleet" and "Starfleet.")
Creator: Joseph Schnaubelt Franz
Date(s): 1975, reprinted 1986, 1996, 2006
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek
Language: English
External Links:

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The Star Fleet Technical Manual by is a reference book by Joseph Schnaubelt Franz.

It was preceded by the purely fannish publication Booklet of General Plans which was sold at great success at Equicon '74. The "Booklet of General Plans" was professionally published in April 1975 by Ballantine Books and titled "Star Trek Blueprints."

1975 flyer for the book sold by New Eye Studio
1975 flyer for the books sold by Nova Enterprises

While this book is now considered to be non-canonical, it was used as a source and reference for four Star Trek motion pictures, and at least one episode.

The publication of this book shows the very, very close relationship Gene Roddenberry had with fans and their creative endeavors, and the complicated straddling of copyright and trademark that was often done before Star Trek was considered a very viable money maker. For more cross-pollination between fan and pro, see its predecessor Booklet of General Plans.


Although it is fiction, the book is presented as an in-universe collection of factual documents, describing the 23rd century Starfleet and United Federation of Planets, and it is described as having been accidentally sent from the future to the 20th century--specifically, when as described in "Tomorrow Is Yesterday," the Enterprise was accidentally propelled back in time in a freak mishap, causing the manual's contents to be accidentally downloaded into the main computers of the now-closed Omaha Air Force Station. In 1973, Franz and his daughter joined a San Diego Trek appreciation society called STAR, the members of which spent time making their own Trek props and costumes. Using his aerospace design talents, he began making technical drawings of phasers and tricorders. He quickly amassed a large collection and sent copies to a very impressed Roddenberry, whose wife Majel Barrett's company, Lincoln Enterprises, was producing Trek memorabilia at the time. Though he considered the franchise dead, Roddenberry encouraged Joseph to seek Barrett's help in creating a manual, a project blessed with privileged access to original props and carpenter's blueprints.[1]

Began as Fanac

The inception, creation, and marketing of this book is one based in fanac. Franz Joseph was a Star Trek fan by way of his daughter, and it was his involvement with S.T.A.R. San Diego that propelled this book off the ground.

An Early 1974 Letter by Franz Joseph

A reprint of a letter by Franz Joseph sent to the president of S.T.A.R. San Diego was reprinted in Archives' Log #2.

An excerpt, something that shows just how entwined the author of this book was with fans and their involvement and help:

I have no desire to market this material myself, the sale at Equicon '74 was a trial run to determine the degree of fan interest and acceptance. Needless to say, the response has "been overwhelming. I received a call from Paramount Television after the "Con and they seriously want to market my work using their international organization. We are currently in negotiations aimed towards a mutually agreeable arrangement. If they take it on, the material will be available to the fans in volume without sacrificing quality. I am agreeable to preparing anything for the Manual which the fans really want, if the source material is available from which to prepare it. In this regard, you may perhaps be an asset, since I currently have to rely on film clips and photos from the local fans. This has been a real drawback in efforts to prepare drawings of the various bridge stations. I can lay out each station dimensionally correct from material I have, but I have seen nothing which would be any use in attempting to correctly lay out the hundreds and hundreds of switches and lights in the various panels. I can easily make them what they ought to be, but this wouldn't be Kosher Star Trek. This is also a difficult task because the bridge set changed every week, it was constantly in a state of addition or alteration.

S.T.A.R. San Diego's response to club members: "After receiving this letter, it was decided at the next meeting to set aside an initial outlay of $30.00 to provide Mr. Schnaubelt with photos for his project. This can be done by asking Dick Mayfield to make some photos for us and also by photographing directly from a TV screen. We have learned from a conversation Art had with Mr. Schnaubelt that he does not require color photos so we can go much further with black and white film and processing costs." [2]

A Lot of Handwork

Whereas the more recent Star Trek technical publications have been largely produced with computer assistance, Franz Joseph created the Star Trek Blueprints and Star Fleet Technical Manual entirely by hand. According to an interview given by Paul Newitt in a June 1984 special issue of Enterprise Incidents, Franz Joseph spent 252 hours researching and 248 hours drawing the Star Trek Blueprints, and 400 hours researching and 1,000 hours drawing the Star Fleet Technical Manual.[3]

Some Original Distance from the Brand

The Technical Manual was first published as a vinyl-jacketed hardcover in 1975. The actual book, removable from the vinyl jacket, was labeled "Star Fleet Technical Manual" on a solid red cover, printed in a fashion to look like a real technical manual or textbook, with no mention of Star Trek at all. Later printings have all been paperbacks with updated covers, all mentioning Star Trek prominently...[4]

Some Comments by Franz Joseph: 1975


1. A printed Terran version of the Star Fleet Technical Manual was approved by the Federation Council for release to the civilians, and civilian auxiliaries on your planet. We have reviewed copies of this version as printed by you, and wish to assure you and the others that these copies are precisely correct and complete as authorized. We believe some of your civilians are confused because they are unfamiliar with the system and arrangement of Technical Orders, therefore, we offer the following by way of clarification.

2. The print-out version of the Star Fleet Technical Manual, as used by the star Fleet Academy, is a collection of only those technical orders necessary to the indoctrination of new cadets until such time as they have become experienced in the use of the data read-out stations of Mastercom/SFHQ. Further, the Terran version contains even fewer Technical Orders because of the prohibition of the Prime Directive. Neither version is a "book" of "pages" as the questioners seem to think - nor do they contain "all" of the technical information stored in the data banks of Mastercom/SFHQ. Your civilians must understand these technical data banks contain all the knowledge presently known within the United Federation of Planets from all of the Member planets. If it were to be published in "book" form, the sum total would amount to more books than you now have stored in your "libraries." Obviously, this cannot be done. It is equally obvious that you cannot have the galactic knowledge of future centuries given to your planet as a "gift", you must earn it by your own efforts just as the others have done.

3. In the Terran version, the General Index summarizes the subject area groupings by technical order number blocks as a part of the total system of classification. It does not give the total classification system, nor does it indicate whether or not such subject matter is available. The introduction (T.O :00:00:06) for instance, is not included because it has not been authorized for release at this time. Each Section Index lists the Technical Orders currently approved for each section, and shows which are the correct issue by authentication date (and amendment code - if required). Thus a Section Index shows whether or not a particular Manual contains the correct issues. Those which are listed with an asterisk may become available in a future print-out from Mastercom/SFHQ. Other technical order numbers which are missing do not appear by reason of the prohibition of the Prime Directive, or they have not been approved for release at this time.

4. In as gentle and as diplomatic manner as we may, we should like to point out that this confusion is just another example of the many primitive attributes of your planet which prevent its acceptance into the United Federation of Planets at this time in your current calendar. But be patient, the day will come in the future when your planet will have finally overcome these obstacles, and will take its place in the inter- galactic community of intelligent life forms.

Live long and prosper.[5]

Some Comments by Franz Joseph: 1976

I was doing nothing with Star Trek. But my daughter, Karen, has been a trekkie from the first episode. I did look at the first two and decided they weren't so hot. I enjoyed Lost in Space, which was running at the same time, because it was a space-age soap opera. Then it got to be way too wild so I started to watch Star Trek with Karen, but I've never been a fan of the show. What surprised me, though, is that even after seeing 50 reruns or more, the stories are still good. They hold up. I like to check the technical details. When you start doing this you see so many thousands of errors that most of the fans don't know exist. But that still doesn't ruin it. I understand very clearly that it's sometimes the errors and boo-boos that make a story. Without errors the stories would not be as exciting. They would be good stuff for public television or Russian TV, but not to sell to the general public on prime time.

I've never bothered with science fiction, and I've never bothered with Star Trek.

As I told you at the beginning, I'm not an avid fan. Sure, it's great--the kids are having fun and everybody enjoys it and more power to them. I have to compliment the production and the acting, but some of the stories were fierce! [NOTE: We think "fierce" used in this way is a 40's colloquialism meaning "terrible," or the opposite of "bitchin'."] But nevertheless, they still hold up as reruns. From what little I know about the business, I would say this is the mark of some very good work.[6]

Some Thoughts by Franz Joseph: 1982

Karen got a set of the...they're called the "Enterprise drawing set" at Lincoln know, the famous three-view and the cutaway, and other things from Stephen Whitfield's book; and the drawing of the hangar deck...and I think there was also a drawing of the shuttlecraft. From these sketches and those in Whitfield's book, I then laid out...those drawings were bad, they're out of scale...but I laid the drawing out, scaled and sized it, and made a drawing of the Enterprise. Next I devised the Dreadnought, made a drawing of one of the uniforms, and about twelve drawings in all. They were drawn on the format I'd already devised for the Technical Orders. I sent a copy of the T.O.'s for the Dreadnought and the Enterprise to Gene Roddenberry on June 3rd, told him what I was doing, and inquired about proprietary rights. I got a letter in reply immediately, stating there was no problem with the proprietary rights, that he liked what I was doing, and wanted me to proceed...So I sent him copies of some fourteen T.O.'s I'd made to date and I got a very enthusiastic letter back. He said he'd never seen anything like that before and he wanted to see more of it. So I started collecting Star Trek material in order to be able to make the T.O.'s. In the lists ST fans had made, they wanted to see things that were on the Enterprise but never appeared in the series. I had already decided that if I was going to do the work, at least it would be technically and scientifically correct.[7]

The fans who saw the plans said, "These are beautiful, all the fans will like them." I've learned from working with the youngsters all my life that when a kid says "all" the ST fans will like it he means himself and his friends, which may be five or ten people. To find out for myself I printed 500 copies of the plans to sell at Equicon '74 in Los Angeles. I got a one-time agreement from Paramount, and there was no advertising. I bought S.T.A.R.'s table because I figured they would be sold in a few hours and I'd have no further need of the table. I told the S.T.A.R. members to keep track of their time when they sold the plans and I'd pay them for it, everyone who was involved: "When my plans are sold out you can continue on with your own sales on the same table." Their table was stuck in a back corner of the sales room. I had one uncut print (all the individual sheets were together on one sheet), which they hung on the wall behind the table. I had signed it, and they got Gene Roddenberry to sign it, and it was later auctioned off at the end of the Con. Now no one knew about the existence of the plans until a fan bought a set and walked out on the Con floor with it. It turned out there wasn't enough time in the Con for all the fans who wanted a set of the plans to get into the dealer's room to get one. At the end of the Con I think there were still something like 90 left. But I'd also had a strip chart of 14 sample T.O.'s from the proposed Technical Manual which they also put up on the wall as a display. And I had preprinted cards available for fans to indicate their interest in the plans and the manual and return them to me. The S.T.A.R. people brought back hundreds of signed cards with them, and more began arriving in the mail everyday. Everyone was asking for a set of then plans and indicated they also wanted to get a copy of the manual when it was completed. Now most of the dealers at a Con, excepting for a few of the professionals, maybe send Paramount an extra five or ten dollars to settle up their sales. I sent Paramount a check for $400, and asked what I could do with the unsold sets of plans and all the fan requests I had for them.

About the end of February I got a call from Lou Mindling, a vice-president of Paramount, who told me it would be all right to sell the remaining copies under the existing agreement. He also said, "You apparently have something the fans like, and we would like to put it on the market." Ballantine Books was their publishing outlet for fan memorabilia, and so we began negotiations by telephone. I know nothing about the publishing business or anything else in this marketing business, and I had to feel my way. I didn't like the deal I was offered at the beginning and our phone conversations would come to an impasse. Paramount kept insisting they were trying to do me a favor, but they also insisted on certain rights which I didn't like. One day I finally said, "Look, we're not getting anywhere; I don't feel comfortable with the proposed arrangements, and you don't want to make any changes. Rather than go ahead, I'd just as soon drop the whole thing right now and forget about it." Lou Mindling called Judy Lynn del Rey, at Ballantine Books, and said, "It's awfully hard to talk to someone you don't know. You don't know how they talk, or how to judge the tone of their voice, or anything else over a telephone. So you (Ballantine) try to make a deal with him (me) and we'll accept any arrangement you can negotiate." Judy called me and we had several conversations in which I told her my fears, and we finally began to see eye to eye. Well, we finally negotiated an agreement and I had signed the contract in November. The first printing of the plans was 50,000 copies which went into the bookstores in March 1975, without any fanfare or preadvertising. They were sold out in two hours. This was followed with a printing of 100,000 copies and then another printing of 60,000 copies and both of these sold out in transit. They didn't catch up with the demand with further printings until I think it was September. One bookstore said it was easy: "all you do is put the cash register just inside the door with the plans stacked up in front of it. That saves your store from being trampled into pieces." Because of the volume of the sales, the plans made quite a stir in the news media. They should have been on the bestseller lists but they couldn't, because those lists are for hardcovers or paperbacks, and the plans are classified as a production in the publishing business. So the editors of the newspapers were writing editorials about why the plans should be on the bestseller list but couldn't be put there.

In the meantime, both Paramount and Ballantine knew I was working on the Manual because I'd sent them the strip chart I had at Equicon '74. And the ST fans knew about it because they'd filled out the cards I had provided. Before I started seriously on the Manual I had talked to Gene, Paramount, NBC, and Ballantine Books, and they all assured me the Star Trek TV series was dead, it would not go back into production. Of course the reruns were maintaining continued fan interest, and gaining new fans every year. So I felt it was all right if I made the Manual. It was something the original series never had, Gene wanted me to go ahead and finish it, and Ballantine was interested in publishing it.[8]

Subject of Fan Discussion and Disagreement

The Manual was the subject of controversy and discussion, mainly due to attitudes and definitions of canon, as well as some sort of dust-ups regarding money. Franz Joseph's daughter discusses this at great length in a 1999 interview:

I ask of all Star Trek fans out there, please, please, please (!!!) take my father's works for what they are: things that were created in the 10-year gap between the first series and the first movie, when even GR didn't think there would be any more live-action installments in the Star Trek universe. It's not fair to compare FJ's design work with subsequent movies/series, as FJ had no idea these things would come to be. In fact, if he'd known there were going to be future movies/series, FJ never would have drawn anything extrapolative at all because he had no desire to be in conflict with GR or any of GR's creations.

Yes, the TM looks dated. It was drawn 25 years ago by an artist with a design aesthetic acquired in the 1930s and '40s. The text was typewritten on a manual typewriter, or was painstakingly laid out using zip-a-tone rub-on lettering. Today, it would be laid out on a computer using the latest in desktop publishing programs. Maybe it wouldn't be in book form at all, but on a CD-ROM. As I related above, my ex-husband and I wanted to update it, and Paramount wouldn't let us do it. I want to put a Forward into the Tech Manual, explaining some of the things I've discussed in this interview and explaining why FJ's designs are discrepant with "canon," and Ballantine is evasive about letting me do it. (I swore to them I can do it without saying a single nasty word about Paramount or GR.) Yet Ballantine continues printing a new edition of the book every 5 years, and Paramount lets 'em do it. I‘m grateful that it keeps FJ's name and work out there, but I don't get their motives.

Yes, a lot of the stuff in the Tech Manual is not "canon." "Canon" did not come to exist until a minimum of 4 years after the TM was published. In fact, large parts of "canon" apparently were developed to discredit the TM. Don't let the political part of "canon" ruin your appreciation of FJ's groundbreaking design work. Just because Star Trek has evolved in a different direction from what FJ postulated doesn't mean that FJ wasn't part of the process, or that FJ's design work is totally invalid. FJ's concepts are internally consistent, and I think they would have worked with the right storylines to back them (indeed, they seem to work fine for Star Fleet Battles). If events had fallen differently in 1973-1976, you might be watching a different Star Trek today -- one with Dreadnoughts' and a Star Fleet HQ space station. Take the kindly view and think of FJ's designs as an alternate universe, or a road not taken, not as blasphemous heresy that has to be nuked out of existence.[9]

Reactions and Reviews


Of all of the writings that have grown out of the phenomenon called Star Trek, this particular contribution has to stand out as one of the most beautiful publications to the world of Star Trek.

This manual, although it deals with a world that does not exist (yet), in other words, science fiction, is precise with unbelievable accuracy. Although the language is very technical it is still fascinating reading and will serve as a valuable reference source. The various symbols, pennnts, signats, shields, arms and flags used by the United Federation are beautifully illustrated; correct lettering, coloring and other specifications are shown as well. At long last there are detailed patterns given for Star Fleet uniforms along with schematic drawings of every piece of equipment shown on the show from the Tri-corder to the Vulcan Lyrette. We are also given some views of the various types of space ships used by the Federation other than the starships. It is a wonder to me how Frans-Joseph arrived at these specifications with what little he had to go on. There is a detailed layout of Star Fleet Academy, level by level. I personally would liked to have seen a more detailed section that could have contained a specific course of study for Star Fleet Cadets in their chosen fields and I felt the star maps could have been more precise and expanded; but perhaps these things will be covered in future volumes. This manual is a highly impressive source for reference for any trekker and 1 am sure that at future Star Trek Conventions we will be seeing a great many reproductions of the seals and signats and especially the official seal of the United Federation of Planets.

May we see many more volumes of this caliber.[10]

THE STAR FLEET TECHNICAL MANUAL is a compilation of technical orders covering regulations, specifications, data, star charts, equipment, etc., of direct concern to Star Fleet and the United Federation of Planets. The drawings are accurately detailed and scaled; colors are carefully coordinated and all details are technically and scientifically accurate. The first edition is planned to be 94 pages, but the issue is expandable and the Master Outline can classify 50,000 separate, individual subjects- not that we're going to have that many. Are we?!?" ((Quote from a letter from the originator of the BOOKLET. GR has seen these plans and declared "This is the Enterprise!")) SEE also the "Letters" page this issue for a warning from Jeff Maynard about the 'bootleg' copies of the First Edition.[11][12]


I must regretfully take typewriter in hand to comment on the clearly fictitious Star Fleet Technical Manual which is today, on this vary planet, being distributed to unsuspecting humanoids of every color, creed, and ear shape. This "unofficial" Manual, obviously the dastardly work of the Klingons, is filled with numerous errors; errors undoubtedly designed to so confuse the unwary reader that ho leaves the path of the True Trekker and evokes the wrath of the Great Bird!

The first variety of error that we find in this "Manual": is known as the "Error of Fact, and can be clearly recognized by its unnecessary disagreement with the facts as presented in the episodes themselves. Errors of this type include: the statement that the UFP, rather than Earth, fought the Romulan War; the use of an inaccurate Star Fleet type style and color code; changes in the commander's, commodore's, and admiral's stripes, and the omission of the stripes for it. [much snipped about nitpicky stuff]...

(Admittedly, some of these errors can be explained by Mr. Schnaubelt's desire to inject some solid 'logical' engineering into "Star Trek", but, unlike the Blueprints, where this was often absolutely required, most of the changes in this "Manual" are simply unnecessary. Moreover, even the smallest of these errors is important; first, because the wide availability of ST information makes any error completely unwarranted, particularly after the author's two years of research, and, second, because these errors can, and will, cause fans to make unnecessary mistakes in building these various pieces of ST equipment,) The second variety of error is the "Error of Selectivity." This consists of selectively ignoring statements and facts from the episodes, and elsewhere, in filling in the gaps in the series. For example, the author ignores the sunburst insignia worn by Admirals and Star Base personnel calling it a Third Season Inconsistency (even though it was shown numerous times throughout the series).. [more nitpicky stuff snipped]...

Finally, there is the minor "Error of of Omission - Mr, Schnaubelt states that the items left out of this Manual may be included in future supplements, depending on the amount of interest expressed to Ballantine. But if that is the case, I would think a loose-leaf binder would be more suitable for adding the supplements.[13]

Steve: re: Star Fleet Technical Manual. Thank you. for your interesting comments on Mr. Schnaubelt's "Manual". I must admit there are parts of the "Manual" which I do not understand but that is only because I do not have a scientific turn of mind. What I would like to say is that as a literary work I enjoyed reading it very much. Speaking for myself, I thank Mr. Schnaubelt for sharing two things with me: his vision of the future and his unending imagination. Albert Einstein said the following: "Imagination is more powerful than knowledge. It enlarges your visions stretches the mind, challenges the impossible. Without imagination thought comes to a halt." Mr. Schnaubelt embodies those words.[14]

Further reading


  1. ^ from Wikipedia
  2. ^ Archives' Log #2
  3. ^ "Trekplace". Archived from the original on 2021-01-26.
  4. ^ "Memory Alpha Wiki". Archived from the original on 2015-10-07.
  5. ^ printed in Bellerophon v.1 n.4 (and perhaps other zines)
  6. ^ These Will Be a Reality Sooner Than You Think: Interview with Franz Joseph Schnaubelt (1976)
  7. ^ An Interview with Franz Joseph (1982)
  8. ^ An Interview with Franz Joseph (1982)
  9. ^ Trekplace Interview with Karen Dick
  10. ^ Bellerophon v.1 n.4 (1975)
  11. ^ The letter in "Menagerie" #5 by Maynard reads: "Bob Langley of Langley Assoc, is selling fake reprints of the Equicon Enterprise Booklet of General Plans. The fakes can be identified by mismatched lines running top to bottom in the center of the page and further out. Also the fake reprint sets may have a paper binding on the stapled edge. The real plans are worth about $100.00 as collector items as only 500 were printed. The fakes have no value. If you were cheated, write Lou Mindling, Paramount Television, 5451 Marathon Street, Holly wood, California. Bob Langley lives at [address redacted]."
  12. ^ comments by Sharon Ferraro in Menagerie #9 (March 1975)
  13. ^ an LoC by Steve S. in Jan/Feb 1976 printed in Archives' Log v.3 n.1/2 (1976)
  14. ^ a reply by Evelyn A. to an LoC by Steve S. [see previous letter] in Jan/Feb 1976 printed in Archives' Log v.3 n.1/2 (1976)