The M-5 was an advanced computer that was made in the mid 23rd century.
The machine made use of advanced multitronic computer technology and was more sophisticated than a duotronic computer that was commonly used at the time of its creation. It was capable of thinking and reasoning like a Human and was capable of using Human memory engrams as a model for its computer programming. When installed, it was placed in the main engineering section where it was plugged into the main power grid and when it required more power, it could simply shut down unnecessary systems for its own use such as life support. The sophistication of the technology meant that an M-5 Unit was perfectly capable of running an entire starship with only a skeleton crew of twenty being present.
There were, however, notable problems with the Unit which included a fierce self preservation programming which meant that it became dominant during battle situations. (TOS episode: "The Ultimate Computer")
The M-5 multitronic unit was created by Doctor Richard Daystrom who used his own memory engrams in the machine and developed it after the failures of the M-1 to M-4 models. After its creation, Starfleet agreed to a test simulation of the Unit's capabilities and in 2268 and it was installed on the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain James T. Kirk.
The simulation called upon the vessel being controlled by the M-5 computer with only a skeleton crew of twenty crewman and for the ship to fight against a small fleet of other Federation starships. However, the machine went rogue and attempted to protect itself unnecessarily, which led to the destruction of the robot vessel Woden and USS Excalibur, along with the deaths of hundreds of Starfleet officers. The sensor crew of the Enterprise later attempted to cut off the computer's control over the ship but the M-5 Unit simply re-routed its command functions through new datalines and sent fake signals to the originals to trick the crew. It later projected a forcefield around itself to protect itself from harm. The machine was only stopped when Captain Kirk made the M-5 computer self-destruct by asking it if it was right to kill another being. The Unit stated it was a crime against the laws of God and deactivated itself which ended the threat it posed in the crisis. (TOS episode: "The Ultimate Computer")
Decades later, as the Dominion War raged, the Romulans had managed to steal M-5 and hide it aboard a remote scientific outpost, where they attempted to harness its power for their own ends. M-5 escaped and took over the body of one of its captors, and eventually lured a starship crewed by androids - specifically, the same androids which inhabited Mudd's World - to the outpost, where M-5 tricked the androids into freeing it from captivity. After a brief struggle, M-5 was able to reprogram the Muddian Androids to serve it, and together they set about attempting to eliminate any threats to the Federation. (Speculations - Strange New Worlds 8 short story: "Concurrence")
A genetic bank on the world of Onyius II contained a sophisticated computer system with encoded engrams similar to the M-5 program and indicated an artificial intelligence. (TOS video game: Judgment Rites)
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