I can vividly remember my first Star Trek convention in the late 80s where James Doohan was one of the guest stars. Star Trek: The Next Generation was received by fans as a long-awaited return of the beloved world of Gene Roddenberry to television. Long before Amazon.com or any other online retailers, getting your hands on Star Trek memorabilia was a little more challenging than it is today. You could purchase the items at conventions or through catalogs, and for me, the convention I attended was the first time I’d seen a large manual with a beautiful cover and incredible illustrations inside. That book was titled Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual published by Pocket Books. I’d seen Michael Okuda’s name in the credits of The Next Generation episodes, but I’d never learned much about him. When I purchased the technical manual, my eyes were opened to the genius of Mr. Okuda’s vision of the future and to his major contributions to Star Trek.
As I read through the manual and saw Mr. Okuda’s name more and more over the years, it became apparent that he was a true pioneer. Along with his wife, Denise, they went on to write numerous Star Trek stories and serve as advisors for the subsequent television series Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise. More recently, Mr. Okuda has been involved with the remastering of the original series on DVD to enhance the special effects, as an advisor to the MMORPG Star Trek Online in its initial stages, and designing logos for NASA.
His most famous contributions to Star Trek include the graphical user interface for the LCARS computer system used on the Enterprise-D and other Starfleet vessels. In appreciation for his contributions in this area, the visual style of the LCARS was named “okudagrams”.
Want to learn more about Mr. Okuda and his memories of working on Star Trek? Read the Michael Okuda interview at UFOP: Starbase 118.