Data is an android which is defined in Webster's 24th century dictionary, 5th edition, as an automaton made to resemble a human being. However, Data is a sentient life form with the same rights as other life forms. Data was built in 2336 at the Omicron Theta colony by Doctor Noonien Soong, with the help of his wife Juliana. Data was a perfected design; four other androids had been built before him, including his evil twin, Lore. Data has a positronic brain, which was built based on the concepts of Dr. Isaac Asimov. His ultimate storage capacity is 800 quadrillion bits, and his total linear computation speed has been rated at 60 trillion operations per second. Data can remember every fact he is exposed to and can imitate voices so perfectly that he can even fool the computer of the Enterprise into thinking he is someone else.

Data cannot, however, use any contractions when he speaks. He has recently gained the ability to do so. As I mentioned before, fabulous feline that I am, I recently learned html, but I also know a thing or two about computers. I can tell you from experience that it would not have been hard for Dr. Soong to create a little file in Data's brain that said,"Every time you are about to say, `We are' replace it with `We're,'" but the good doctor decided for some reason not to. Maybe he just didn't feel like it.

Data has a respiratory system for thermal regulation, however, he is capable of functioning for extended periods in a vacuum. Data has a circulatory system to distribute biochemical lubricants and regulate microhydrolic power throughout his body. Data does not require food, but he can eat and drink. Thanks to his new emotion chip, Data can taste the food he eats and like or dislike it. Data first gained emotions on stardate 48632.4, or the year 2371.

Data was also programmed with all the memories of the colonists at Omicron Theta. A crystline entity attacked the colony, but both Dr. Noonien Soong and Juilana escaped. Juilana forced Dr. Soong to leave Data behind because she was afraid that Data would turn out like Lore and she would be forced to dismantle Data, like his brothers before him. Data was left underground in a dormant condition, until he was discovered in 2338 by the crew of the U.S.S. Tripoli.

On to Data in Starfleet