... The Iota Dummy

This page is an accumulation of our various studies and essential screencaps of this not-yet-found communicator.

Here's our guess as to what this prop might look like today:


Iota's Jewels

In only a single early episode do we get to see all the original gems on this comm; in Miri.  First is a great partial close-up that shows off not only the moiré pattern (see further below) but the very tippity top of a red center stone with a slight orange lean - thus easily figured to be another 16ss Hyacinth.  The green left jewel, however, is much trickier.  Notice curiously how the sides, unlike with clear rhinestones, don't change abruplty in brightness, nor do they change in hue as you'd expect if the surfaces had an AB coating:

The logical choice among all Swarovski products for this oddball left jewel is a type discontinued long ago called Opaque Green, which looks like this:

A solid pick, you'd likely agree.  But to be absolutely sure before leaving the topic forever, we created a clearer amalgam image (blended from 12 frames) of that left gem:

Besides it being glued on the hub just a bit off-center towards the back (to the right from this angle), something else became apparent in the image... the jewel, sized here to be about 4.5 mm wide, clearly has a dome-like shape.  Needless to say the comparison with a squat 20ss Opaque Green flatback failed, as the Swarovski stone is nowhere near tall enough:

The surface of this tiny round object also has a highly diffuse luster, plainly evident when comparing its broad reflections of the studio's overhead lights to the sharp ones off the shiny dark sphere in the lab equipment right behind it...

... which leads us to conclude the left gem wasn't a rhinestone at all but rather, bizarrely, a light green-colored half-pearl:

It also seems to have had a white underside, since the bottom surface is reflected in the hub's chrome - and there's no hint of color there.

An exhaustive online search unfortunately turned up not a single possible vintage source for this item.  Swarovski did offer half-pearls, but their greens weren't at all similar, and the smallest size was to all knowledge a way-too-big 6 mm.  Etsy now sells various old cabochons and modern plastic half-pearls that are reasonably similar, but for your replica Iota communicator you'll have to decide which of the three main characteristic (size, color or surface luster) you're willing to modestly forego:

If, however, you're maybe that one other person in all of human history who's willing to shoot for perfection here, we documented the steps to make your own that's a full match to screencaps:


The results:

Moving on to the right jewel... later in "Miri" Spock flips open the comm, angled fortunately towards the viewer (Leonard often did that).  There in shadow is the gem, and it's decidedly pink-ish:

Based on these caps, that right rhinestone is either a deep, rich 16ss Fuchsia or a more pale 16ss Rose:

Given how the right stone in each image is comparable in color saturation and brightness to the vibrant Hyacinth next to it, our initial call would favor the richer Fuchsia.  Then a few seconds later he's holding the prop a bit further away, and while the lighting and shadows shift around some...

... we again see a matching brightness and saturation of the center and right stones.  One final look occurs as the comm lid closes for the last time in that episode:

Same result, so fuchsia it is.


Top Choice

Other Possibilities

4.5mm Half-Pearl

20ss Opaque Green

16ss Hyacinth

16ss Light Siam

16ss Fuchsia

16ss Rose


Alas we'll never know if all this analysis is correct, even if the actual prop is found, as both outer jewels were gone by Season 2.  The left remained just a bare hub, and the right - probably because even the hub was lost - was replaced by some larger, round white thingy that could be a 34ss opal rhinestone, or, heck, maybe just a shirt sleeve button:


Iota's Moiré Pattern

The small "Fall" picture on the cover of the 1965 edition of The Science of Moiré Patterns actually supplied the
moiré pattern for two comms:

We determined this source and location for Iota by starting with its great "Miri" close-up that has the pattern at a low angle.  Carefully "re-circling" it (restoring it to its actual shape and orientation) showed off in true scale the darker and lighter patches in its "bunching" lines.  Nicely one spot in the book cover's "wavy" image matches almost perfectly each of the many dark/light spots:

More information on its moiré pattern can be found on our A Moiré Story page.  And a high-resolution print-ready scan of the original source material can be found here.

Iota's Bezel Ring Grooves

Two grooves are easily seen; the lower one more prominent than the upper:


Essential Screencaps

From this point forward in the series, the antenna no longer swings back all the way, meaning the bottom shell was pried off and the stop pin was reinserted.

The identification of the comm below in Mirror, Mirror is one of only a few on this website that isn't absolutely 100.0% assured.  Most unusual is what looks to be, in the close-up frames on the right, a completely open row of partial holes at the wire's front end - a feature that doesn't well match what we have on any of Wah's communicators, except for Zeta.  But with its clean solder job, it's definitely not Zeta.  Reconsidering then the remaining seven dummies, the closest - based on hole positions and that lack of any visible solder blobs - would easily be Iota.  Also the wide antenna swing angle seen in the scene's master shot (in the upper left) is uniquely Iota's:


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