This model of the fictional starship Enterprise was used in the weekly hour-long "Star Trek" TV show (NBC-TV), which aired from September 1966 until June 1969. Despite its short initial run (only three seasons), Star Trek became one of the most influential shows in the history of television. The show's depiction of a racially-integrated, multinational crew of men and women working together successfully, as well as its attention to contemporary social and political issues, pushed the boundaries of network television, earning Star Trek a dedicated fan base that lobbied for the franchise's continuation.
In the television show, the Enterprise traveled at speeds measured in multiples of the speed of light using warp drives, a propulsion concept extrapolated from supersonic flight to imagine faster-than-light travel. The fictional ship grossed 190,000 tons, and measured 947 feet long and 417 feet in diameter. The saucer-shaped hull included 11 decks, and had a crew complement of 430.
The model's principal designer, Walter "Matt" Jefferies, created several different ideas for the Enterprise's design to fit the requirements provided by Star Trek's creator Gene Roddenberry. To support the final design suggestion, Jefferies also created a rough 4-inch balsa and cardboard prototype. A 33-inch "pilot" model mostly of solid wood was then built by model-maker Richard C. Datin under subcontract to the Howard Anderson Company. Enlarging the plans for that model resulted in the final 11-foot model shown here. The Anderson Company again turned to Datin who contracted it out to Production Model Shop of Burbank, California, with Datin supervising the construction while he did the detail work. The internal lights and nacelle end cap effects were added in 1965.
Paramount Studios donated the model to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in 1974.