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SCOTT JAGOW: On this day 40 years ago Americans watched a salt-eating creature from outer space terrorize the crew of the Starship Enterprise. It was the first episode of TV show Star Trek. Four decades later, the franchise still lives and prospers. Marketplace's Amy Scott reports.

AMY SCOTT: The original Star Trek series lasted just three seasons and scored mediocre ratings. Yet 40 years later, reruns still haunt late-night TV. Hundreds of trekkie conventions are held every year. A bimonthly Star Trek magazine launched last month. Robert Thompson teaches television and popular culture at Syracuse University. He says Star Trek has gone where no show has gone before.

ROBERT THOMPSON: Star Trek really does seem to be in a class of its own. It really did create a universe.

A universe with endless possibilities for plot and profit. The Star Trek franchise of films, TV series, computer games, even a theme park, is worth several billion dollars.

In New York, I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

Follow Amy Scott at @amyreports