The term "Protoculture" first came up during preproduction story development for The Super Dimension Fortress Macross Japanese TV series (Big West/Studio Nue, 1982), when the creators were researching cultural studies to develop concepts to be used in the plot. In the Macross animated series Protoculture serves both to refer to the first extraterrestrial humanoid civilization itself ("Proto Culture" or Proto Kerlchuun, what means "Old Culture" or "Ancient Culture" in the fictional Zentradi language) and earthling culture itself.
In the fictional history of Macross the Protoculture was the first sentient humanoid race to evolve in this universe, about one million years ago. According to the official chronology of The Super Dimension Fortress Macross series, the Protoculture became also the first advanced humanoid civilization in the known universe 500,000 years ago. The Protoculture's first space colonization began with the use of sub-light-velocity spaceships 2400 years after their civilization was created.
100 years later they genetically engineered the giant Zentradi race for its proxy warfare, which contributed greatly to the expansion of the Protoculture Civilization's sphere of influence across space.
The Protoculture's second space colonization began by super-light-velocity spaceships using fold navigation which achieved the unification of a Stellar Republic that controlled much of the Milky Way galaxy in the year 2800 of the Protoculture civilization calendar.
When internal conflict became inevitable 60 years later (In an event known as "The Schism Wars") the Stellar Republic became split in two factions. One of these factions created a race of super-Zentradi, called Evil (pronounced eh-vil) with extraordinary powers; unfortunately, these beings became possessed by creatures from a parallel universe. The Protodeviln, as they were called, fed on the spiritual energy (spiritia) of the Protoculture and Zentradi, and turned some of them into brainwashed troops of their own, the Supervision Army, but were defeated and imprisoned by a group of Protoculture called the Anima Spiritia (see Macross 7).
However, the Supervision Army continued to battle the Zentradi and the remains of the Protoculture Stellar Republic, which caused Protoculture population to dwindle across the galaxy. The Protoculture removed the Prime Directive that stopped the Zentradi from attacking Supervision Army Protoculture effectively, but this directly and indirectly resulted in the war becoming even more intense, and involving more of the Protoculture, whose population dropped sharply. Thus, the remaining Protoculture tried to expand its existing population by seeding humanoid life in different uninhabited planets and by avoiding any kind of conflict as much as possible.
70 years after the formation of the Protoculture Stellar Republic (497,130 years ago), a Protoculture Survey Ship landed on Earth and genetically influenced the existing native life to spur the emergence of "mankind", a sub-Protoculture adapted to the planetary environment of Earth to prepare the planet for future colonization. When the Survey Ship was starting its return to its home planet, it was destroyed by military ships opposed to the Stellar Republic. Records of Earth and humankind were eventually lost.
5 years later the Protoculture lost control of the Zentradi completely, who kept their fighting with the Supervision Army indefinitely and the reissuing of the Zentradi's prime directive to "not interfere with Protoculture" became ineffective.
A final, devastating war between the Protoculture remmant, the Zentradi and the Supervision Army resulted in the destruction of the entire Stellar Republic. As a result, the Protoculture became nearly extinct 475,000 years ago, not being found ever again by the Zentradi since then.
However, when in the year 2009 A.D. of the human calendar a Zentradi fleet in pursuit of a Supervision Army Gun Destroyer first encountered Earth humans -- intelligent beings, smaller than themselves, possessed of culture and who had reconstructed the Supervision Army vessel -- they believed earthlings to be the last remnants of the Supervision Army brainwashed Protoculture and sought to destroy them, thus starting Space War I.
During the events of the Macross Zero OVA (set in 2008 A.D., a year before the Zentradi invasion) it was revealed that the much more technologically advanced remnants of the Protoculture rediscovered our planet about 10,000 years ago and came into contact with the nascent humanity in a place known as "Mayan Island" in the South Pacific. There they left many antique artifacts and proof of their visit in the oral traditions and archeological myths of the native "Mayan" people, who they genetically altered to be able to interact with those devices through ancient chants. Seeing the war-like tendencies of Earth inhabitants (and not wanting to repeat their past mistakes with the Zentradi) the Protoculture left a very powerful and advanced biomecha known as the "Bird Human" in the south pacific ocean depths. This mecha was programmed to destroy the human race in case it followed the same path of war and destruction their previous creations did, and was activated and controlled through the chants of the Mayan shamans.
In The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? animated movie, the Macross Zero OVA and the new Macross Frontier T.V. series, different Protoculture artifacts are shown to be adorned with a spiral logo.
During the new Macross Frontier animated series it was revealed in-universe that at some point during the course of thousands of years ago the Protoculture came into contact with an even older insectoid galactic species called Vajra and that they came to fear, adore and deify their Super Dimension power to the extent of imitating its form, Protoculture technology being an example of this with their Space fold devices, Super Dimension weaponry and the "Bird Human" protoculture mecha from Macross Zero, which was designed to resemble a Vajra Queen.
In Robotech the 1985 American-edited adaptation of three unrelated series (1, 2, 3) the term Protoculture was used to describe a powerful energy source, a catalyst in genetic engineering, a hallucinatory substance, and the described "lifeblood" of two different races. As the "foodstuff" and the by-product of the Flower of Life, it is used by one race, the Invid, in "finding the ultimate lifeform through the ritualistic eating." The Robotech Masters also call it "the lifeblood of our existence," and say their "foremost goal is to control this life force by conquering Earth."
In Robotech: The Legend of Zor, a six-part comic book mini-series published by Eternity Comics in the early 1990s, the origin and use of Protoculture is explained. Zor, a young scientist from the moon of the planet Fantoma, Tirol, is part of a major interplanetary scientific expedition. On one leg of the survey, Zor lands on the planet Optera, which is home to the insect-like Invid. Zor finds himself in telepathic communication with the central intelligence of the Invid, and through their meeting an exchange of information between the two races is achieved. The Invid consciousness learns of Tirolian science and engineering, and Zor learns of the innermost secrets of the Flower of Life, a flower that dominates the landscape of the planet (as well as the diet of the Invid).
By processing the Flowers of Life, the energy source, known as Protoculture, was created. Due to the greed and growing thirst for power of the Tirolian government, the planet of Optera is almost completely devastated due to Tirolian harvesting of the Flowers of Life. This callous defoliation inspires the Invid to create their immense war machine and attack the Tirolians, aka the Robotech Masters. After the Emperor orders Zor's father killed, Zor decides to destroy the Masters' Protoculture factories. He then escapes the Masters, along with the only remaining Protoculture Matrix, inside the experimental SDF-1 Zentraedi Monitor. After being mortally wounded during an Invid ambush, Zor sends the space fortress on a random space fold, and passes away. The ship soon crashes on Earth and sets the stage for the whole Robotech saga. 
The Jack McKinney novels expanded on the metaphysical aspects of protoculture, notably that protoculture was a form of sentience in itself. Dr. Emil Lang, Earth's chief Robotechnician, frequently referred to a cosmic force that he called The Shapings, a cycle of events and occurrences that ultimately lead to a greater event in the nature of the universe; perhaps the ultimate evolution of life itself to a next stage.
Dr. Lang believes that The Shapings started well before Zor's discovery of protoculture, and have influenced the progress of the Robotech Wars, including the SDF-3's failure to appear in Earthspace at the end of the TV series. He and Exedore also suspected that the mythology of the enigmatic planet Haydon, that they have been researching, may yet have an ultimate part to play in the way that The Shapings play out. Dr. Lang and Exedore's predictions as well as the nature of the Shapings and Haydon are explored in the eighteenth Robotech novel, "End of the Circle".
By Harmony Gold's current stance, the Jack McKinney novels and the Robotech: The Legend of Zor comic series is secondary canon: subject to critical review with respect to the primary canon (the TV series) but not necessarily ruled out. The Haydonites, however, did appear in the 2006 animated Robotech sequel Shadow Chronicles, although their depiction here is far more sinister. According to the Invid princess, Ariel, the Haydonites wish to destroy all races that use protoculture, because "they fear its awesome power."
- "Translation & Cultural Notes". The Super Dimension Fortress Macross Liner Notes. AnimEigo. 2001-12-21. Retrieved 2009-04-29.
- Protoculture Definition at the Macross Compendium. Retrieved on 04-24-09.
- ADV Films Official Macross English Dub Page.The Protoculture. 04-09-09
- Official Macross Chronology. Pages 54 and 55. Macross Perfect Memory. Reference Book. 260 A4 pages. Minori Library, Japan. Y2800. 1983, October 10.
- Protoculture History at the Macross Compendium. Retrieved on 04-24-09.
- Macross Chronicle Issue 08. World Guide Sheet: 04a: The Zentradi. Part Two. Page 14. We've Inc. 2008.10.30
- Macross Chronicle Issue 08. World Guide Sheet: 04a: The Zentradi. Part One. Page 14. We've Inc. 2008.10.30
- Macross Chronicle Issue 13. Mechanic Sheet: FB: Protoculture - 01A City Space Ship Altira. We've Inc. 2009.01.08
- The Super Dimension Fortress Macross Visual Story: Booby Trap. Pages 10 and 11. Macross Perfect Memory. Reference Book. 260 A4 pages. Minori Library, Japan. Y2800. 1983, October 10.
- Macross Frontier (TV Series). Macross Frontier Official Site. Story Section. Story List. Episode 25. 09-25-08