""The Terran Trade Authority is a science-fiction setting originally presented in a collection of four large illustrated science fiction books published between 1978 and 1980. This series was written by Stewart Cowley under the pseudonym "Steven Caldwell".
The books formed a connected space-opera milieu, describing the future history of mankind's expansion into the galaxy, presented in the guise of official handbooks by the trade organization from which the setting takes its name. However, the books sometimes contained contradictory information (e.g., the nature of early FTL technology).
Compared to other science fiction settings, the TTA setting appears optimistic about man's place in the universe, though elements of violence and authoritarianism do appear in the books. It features a strong undercurrent of wonder and adventure, due in part to the inclusion of various mysterious alien relics and incidents that are left unexplained by the author.
Premise of the setting
According to the series' original timeline, humans - aka 'Terrans' - became starfarers in the early 21st century, with the development of the DeVass Warp Generator. This is described as a spacefold-style faster-than-light drive, which brought space at the origin and destination into proximity, allowing a vessel at the former to transfer to the latter without crossing the intervening distance.
The future history states that after remote exploration of nearby star systems, contact was established with the inhabitants of the Alpha Centauri star system (the 'Alphans'), with whom Terrans quickly became friends and allies. The second alien encounter at Proxima Centauri (with the 'Proximans' - long antagonistic towards the Alphans) resulted in the two-decade long 'Proximan War'. This war drove the development of space technology, resulting in many of the starship designs that inhabit the TTA universe and facilitating its further colonization."
Source: Wikipedia, "Terran Trade Authority", available under the CC-BY-SA License.