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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
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Phaser prop from Star Trek, 1979Phaser prop from Star Trek, 1979

Launched on NBC in 1966, the television show Star Trek followed the adventures of the starship Enterprise on its five-year mission to explore new worlds and "boldly go where no man has gone before." Although the original series lasted for only three seasons, it generated a host of film and television spin-offs and a devoted community of fans. In 1987 a memorabilia collector presented the Smithsonian with this prototype hand phaser used in the first Star Trek movie. Modeled after the classic ray gun of science fiction, the phaser was the weapon of choice for the Enterprise crew—its various settings included "stun," "heat," "disrupt," and "overload"—and a popular example of the show's futuristic technology.

See also: Film and Television Memorabilia, Firearms, Popular Culture Memorabilia

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