Phaser weapons have a heritage as far back as the 22nd century when Earth Starfleet began replacing its standard issue EM-33 plasma weapons with phase weapons (ENT episode: Broken Bow). By the 23rd century Starfleet had developed laser weapons. (TOS episode: The Cage)
- The exact relation to the earlier phase weapons or later phasers is unknown, however it seems clear that Lasers superseded Phase weapons and were quite probably some form of intermediate technology and the name laser may be some from of colloquialism rather than a step back technologically.
The first weapons to actually be designated phasers were invented in 2256, introduced in the 2260s and have continued to be used through various designs well into the 24th century. (Last Unicorn RPG module: All Our Yesterdays: The Time Travel Sourcebook)
Following a similar lineage to hand held weapons, starship phasers date their ancestry back to the 22nd century when Earth Starfleet introduced phase cannons. By the 23rd century these had developed into phaser banks which were fitted on most Starfleet vessels and could fire pulses and beams of phaser fire.
By the 24th century Starfleet vessels were as standard, fitted with phaser arrays, arrangements of phaser emitters positioned in strips along starships hulls to fire beams of phaser fire from all over the ship.
By the late 24th century, Starfleet phasers were capable of "thwarting" the creation of Tholian webs, however, the Tholians improved the web technology in order to be effective again. (TNG comic: "A Handful of Dust")
Following the Battle of Wolf 359 Starfleet concentrated its defensive strategies, part of which involved the development of the Defiant class which was fitted with pulse phaser cannon, weapons capable of producing powerful concentrated blasts of phaser fire.
- Geordi La Forge was struck by a phaser blast set to kill in 2364. He spent some time comatose, near death, before Beverly Crusher's sensors finally lost his life readings. La Forge recovered around the same time that a number of members of Q Continuum visited the USS Enterprise. (DC TNG miniseries)
- excavation phaser
- phase cannon
- phaser bank
- phaser array
- pulse phaser
- surface-to-space phasers