Hear 13 iconic Star Trek sounds created by the late Douglas Grindstaff

Listen to a Tribble cooing and a phaser blasting and remember the man who made it happen.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
2 min read

The Tribbles' distinctive coos were created by Douglas Grindstaff.


Douglas Grindstaff, the man responsible for many of the signature sounds in the original Star Trek TV series, died July 23 at age 87, StarTrek.com reported.

"Please join us in remembering Douglas Grindstaff, the award-winning sound editor and designer behind many iconic #StarTrek sounds," reads a tweet from the show's official Twitter account.

Grindstaff and co-workers Joseph Sorokin and Jack Finlay teamed up to deliver all the background sounds and effects on the fabled CBS show, which ran from 1966-1969. (CBS is CNET's parent company.)  In 1967, Grindstaff was nominated for an Emmy Award in the Individual Achievements in Film and Sound Editing category.

Fans appreciated Grindstaff's work. "He made the Enterprise come alive," wrote Twitter user Kelly Key. "The background buzz on the bridge always reminded me of crickets and cicadas from a field on a summer night -- full of life and activity."

Grindstaff is survived by his wife Marcia, his three children and her three children, and by 16 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, with more on the way. Grindstaff, a Korean War combat veteran, also worked on such shows as The Brady Bunch, Dallas and Mission: Impossible.

Take a listen to some of the memorable sounds Grindstaff helped bring to life.

1. Red alert klaxon

Set this one up on your iPhone for the most unnerving wake-up alarm ever.

2. Transporter sounds

Some of us seriously thought this would be the transportation of the future. Still waiting though.

3. Tribbles cooing

Poor Kirk just wanted his chicken sandwich and coffee, Tribble-free.

4. Phasers firing

Some of us may've made these noises while running around the backyard pointing random objects at our neighbors. 

5. Bridge doors

Modern doors just don't close with this satisfying swoosh.

6. Boatswain's whistle

On the original show, the boatswain's (pronounced BEAU-son's) whistle was used to open shipboard communications via the ship's intercom. You'll know it when you hear it.

7. Heartbeats

Dr. McCoy probably heard a lot of these in sick bay.

8. Hull hit

That sounds like a bad one. 

9. Inside the shuttle craft

Lots of sounds share space inside the shuttle.

10. Sick bay scanners

These sound a little bit like a plaintive waterfowl calling to its mate.

11. Warp drive

Brace yourself: Warp speed, Mr. Sulu.

12. Food and drink synthesizer

Kirk was more of a coffee achiever, but later on, Jean-Luc Picard would demand his "Earl Grey, hot."

13. Open a hailing frequency

Nichelle Nichols' Lt. Uhura, the Enterprise's communications officer, was a pioneering character.

First published July 30, 4:29 p.m. PT. 
Update, July 31, 1:09 p.m. PT: Adds some of Grindstaff's most iconic sounds.  

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