(Played by James Cromwell [1996] and Glenn Corbett [1967])

The renowned Terran American scientist and developer of warp drive on his world (AD 2030-2117?), an eccentric genius who became a reluctant hero. Cochrane launched his warp test vessel Phoenix from an abandoned Titan missile silo in remote Montana and unwittingly sparked first contact for Earth with a passing Vulcan ship on April 5, 2063. (In a temporarily altered timeline, the launch and contact were sabotaged by the Borg and led to an isolated and easily assimilated Earth, but history was restored by the efforts of the U.S.S. Enterprise-E crew.)

Cochrane often indulged in alcohol, cheese perogies, and rock 'n' roll music from the 20th century. Cochrane's assistant, Lily Sloane, affectionately called him "Z". Profit alone drove their initial work, but their character grew with their subsequent fame. Cochrane admitted that World War III had changed his ideas about nobility, and at the time he only wanted to retire to a Pacific isle and its native women. At the first sign of Borg attack, the drunk Cochrane abandoned his project to seek shelter and then, ignorant of his place in history, was blase about its presumed loss. Hearing of his eventual fame panicked him and he bolted, only to be chased and brought back by Riker's team and given a prodding to go on, even with a hangover. Around 2073, give or take a year, he offered one of his more famous quotes: "Don't try to be a great man ... just be a man. Let history make its own judgments." Years later, at the age of 87 after relocating to Alpha Centauri, Cochrane mysteriously disappeared with his ship in 2117.

In honor of Zefram Cochrane's achievement, humans and their Federation peers celebrate "First Contact Day" once a year, often meaning a day off from school for the youngsters.