Linked by Howard Fosdick on Thu 13th Oct 2011 22:14 UTC
Humor Last month we discussed how computers are portrayed in cultural icons like Lost in Space, Star Trek, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, and -- of course! -- that lost gem, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. This article continues this essential exploration of American culture with more probing profiles of computers on TV and in the movies.
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HAL/Clippy
by dylansmrjones on Thu 13th Oct 2011 22:42 UTC
dylansmrjones
Member since:
2005-10-02

Are you saying that HAL is a descendant of Clippy?

Reply Score: 3

RE: HAL/Clippy
by Doc Pain on Thu 13th Oct 2011 23:24 UTC in reply to "HAL/Clippy"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

Are you saying that HAL is a descendant of Clippy?


I am sorry dylansmrjones. This question cannot be answered. It's the best for the mission. Why don't you just take a pill? Relax? Everything will be fine. There's nothing you need to know.

And this in turn reminds me to the robot "officers" in THX-1138 - beating people with sticks, electroshocking them and asking them to be calm and happy.

I'd like to repeat my pointer to "Starring The Computer" at http://starringthecomputer.com/ where you'll find a nice list of (1st) computers shown in movies, as well as (2nd) movies showing computers.

Of course, the Imsai of "War Games" is in there as well as the Apple II of "Tron", as well as the Burroughs of "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes". Sadly, there's no mentioning of Proteus IV and its (his?) terminals. And don't miss Doctor Strangelove's IBM 7090!

And whenever you feel safe, remember: "There is a terminal available." :-)

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: HAL/Clippy
by Neolander on Fri 14th Oct 2011 06:35 UTC in reply to "RE: HAL/Clippy"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

And this in turn reminds me to the robot "officers" in THX-1138 - beating people with sticks, electroshocking them and asking them to be calm and happy.

I believe an excellent example can be seen in the recent Doctor Who episode "Let's kill Hitler" (overall a delicious moment of pure craziness). This episode introduces the Antibodies. They always move in groups of three, look like flying metallic jellyfishes with absurdly long vibrating tentacles ( http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cy2SaJ5Miy8/Tlv6X6koN3I/AAAAAAAAC2E/AifAq... ), and greet visitors with the following words :

"Welcome.
You are unauthorized.
Your death will now be implemented."
*exhibits huge electric sparks http://doctorwho.bbcamerica.com/files/downloads/doctorwho_wallpaper... *
"You will experience a tingling sensation and then death. Remain calm while your life is extracted"

Edited 2011-10-14 06:41 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Computor
by righard on Thu 13th Oct 2011 23:48 UTC
righard
Member since:
2007-12-26

It's always funny to see how old films tread computers as mysterious living machines. Like the episode "Whoever Shot Poor George Oblique Stroke XR40" (I know that title by hearth...neh, I looked it up) from the Avengers. A computer doctor needs to perform surgery on a computer so he can tell who murdered another computer.

I think I remember them calling it a computor in that episode.

In real life I was got hit by a teacher because I clicked on an icon while the cursor was still an hourglass. It was very bad because the computer was still thinking and it could damage from stress if I ordered it around to much.

Edited 2011-10-13 23:57 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Computor
by Bringbackanonposting on Thu 13th Oct 2011 23:54 UTC in reply to "Computor"
Bringbackanonposting Member since:
2005-11-16

In real life I was got hit by a teacher because I clicked on an icon while the cursor was still an hour glass. It was very bad because the computer was still thinking and it could damage from stress if I ordered it around to much.


That's real life right there. As I am a support person I would hazard a guess that 90% of people that call me for support "actually" believe that their computers need to warm up and have time to think.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Computor
by MacTO on Thu 13th Oct 2011 23:58 UTC in reply to "Computor"
MacTO Member since:
2006-09-21

How old were you at the time?

While it is possible that the teacher was completely ignorant, it was also very easy to lock-up old software. Which, in turn, could mean powering it down without shutting it down. Which, in turn, could lead to data corruption.

So, if you were very young, they may have simplified their explanation.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Computor
by righard on Fri 14th Oct 2011 00:23 UTC in reply to "RE: Computor"
righard Member since:
2007-12-26

I was very young at the time, about eight but she wouldn't hit me if that was the case because she'd be aware that the thing I did was harmless. Also the same women thought, when the mouse broke down, that the pointer got out of the edges of the screen somehow and that you had to try and search it back. She'd spend quite some time randomly moving the mouse in vain.

Edited 2011-10-14 00:33 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Computor
by MacTO on Sat 15th Oct 2011 08:07 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Computor"
MacTO Member since:
2006-09-21

I was very young at the time, about eight but she wouldn't hit me if that was the case because she'd be aware that the thing I did was harmless. Also the same women thought, when the mouse broke down, that the pointer got out of the edges of the screen somehow and that you had to try and search it back. She'd spend quite some time randomly moving the mouse in vain.


It is really hard to judge what was going on here because I don't know how old you are now. But I feel that it is worth mentioning that computers were very fragile during the 80's and early 90's and that very few people had the ability to fix them. That includes people who we would now think of as relatively competent with computers. Think of it this way. There weren't journalling file systems on personal computers. Worse yet, people didn't know about buffering (since the buffering that was done was trivial compared to what is done today). So if you just turned off a computer (because there were no software controlled power supplies) a corrupted file system was a very real possibility. And the only chances of recovery were through partial solutions like the Norton Utilities (which is just one example among many). Oh, and it's worth mentioning that such disaster recovery tools were very common until 2000 or so, when consumer operating systems (and that includes Linux) started picking up the slack.

There were other complications too, since operating systems were much more varied back then. I remember being petrified after crashing a school Mac in my teens, mostly because I was familiar with ProDOS and MS-DOS and a bit with Windows. But Mac OS was totally foreign. And I was a pretty intense computer geek even back then.

So in a lot of ways I have a hard time blaming your teacher for her relative ignorance, though hitting you as a consequence of that was totally inappropriate (by any standards in our modern world -- it is, after all, just a machine, no matter how indecipherable and expensive it may have been).

Reply Score: 2

IMSAI 8080
by MacTO on Thu 13th Oct 2011 23:55 UTC
MacTO
Member since:
2006-09-21

If I recall correctly, they used an IMSAI because it is something that he could have gotten surplus. After all, computers like the Apple II were extremely expensive back then. Especially when you throw in upgrades like floppy drives, an 80 column card, a speech synthesizer, and (of course) a modem.

Reply Score: 3

RE: IMSAI 8080
by zima on Fri 14th Oct 2011 00:37 UTC in reply to "IMSAI 8080"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

The scale of other sets and props(?) in them - missile bunker for example or, most notably, the command centre - make such budget crunch rather unlikely?

I think IMSAI was chosen largely because it was very "photogenic" - a prominent object, with lots of lights and switches to toggle. Also "niche" & "legendary" & suggesting an "'old' school hacker" ...or maybe also partly because the nerds at hand, among the crew, were able to quickly come up - specifically for this machine - with the required "typing application" (showing the proper, scripted commands and sentences whichever key was hit by the actors; this was used during the filming of Wargames)

Remember, it's a film - so whatever is in it, is not strictly a tool of [the real-life purpose of object], but of cinematography. A film prop meant to look good, be impressive for the audiences, that's its role. A way for actors to... act, to depict the story in a way conductive to mass-consumed, pop-cultural video medium.

Heck, some of the "upgrades" (whichever machine is used) could easily be non-functional - not surplus, but broken trash. There were also less expensive computers at the time, VIC-20 or C-64 for example - but this leads to another possible reason: why would they make free product placement for big companies of the era? (not only Commodore) IMSAI was convenient, it was virtually gone by then already. And much less familiar, much more mysterious.

Edited 2011-10-14 00:50 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: IMSAI 8080
by MacTO on Fri 14th Oct 2011 01:20 UTC in reply to "RE: IMSAI 8080"
MacTO Member since:
2006-09-21

I agree with what you said and you raised many excellent points.

When I was talking about the expense of the computer, I meant that it was a tad unrealistic for a teenage boy to have an up-to-date computer. To pick on the over priced Apple II: a couple of thousand for the computer, a few hundred dollars for each of the monitor, disk drive, printer, and modem. We're talking $4,000 or up in 1983 dollars (about $8000-$9000 in current dollars).

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: IMSAI 8080
by jal_ on Fri 14th Oct 2011 10:14 UTC in reply to "RE: IMSAI 8080"
jal_ Member since:
2006-11-02

The scale of other sets and props(?) in them - missile bunker for example or, most notably, the command centre - make such budget crunch rather unlikely?


Not the film budget of course, but the budget of the high school hacker. In 1983, a school kid couldn't have afforded an Apple or IBM, if his parents didn't own one. I think it's quite believable he then used an IMSAI.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by KLU9
by KLU9 on Fri 14th Oct 2011 00:24 UTC
KLU9
Member since:
2006-12-06

Any chance of movies and TV that are NOT US-only? (even if Star Wars and 2001 were filmed in the UK)

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by KLU9
by looncraz on Fri 14th Oct 2011 03:19 UTC in reply to "Comment by KLU9"
looncraz Member since:
2005-07-24

I thought the only movie to ever come from outside the U.S. was Harry Potter??

Am I wrong??

Reply Score: 2

Story rules.
by westlake on Fri 14th Oct 2011 00:27 UTC
westlake
Member since:
2010-01-07

You chose a prop because is visually interesting and helps tell the story.

The IMSAI in War Games looks like a miniature version of WOPR and the systems used throughout Cheyenne Mountain.

That tells the audience that this kid is in over is head.

They won't recognize the machine. They don't know its limits. How could they? The IMSAI was only in production for three years --- a bare 20,000 units.

What they will know is that it is something quite diffrent from the Apple II they have all seen sitting on a desk in a grade school classroom.

Reply Score: 3

Desk Set Movie
by ghostdawg on Fri 14th Oct 2011 01:13 UTC
ghostdawg
Member since:
2005-12-31

I remember seeing this movie recently on the AMC channel. I guess it was more about the characters than computers. The movie was made in 1957.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050307/

"The mysterious man hanging about at the research department of a big TV network proves to be engineer Richard Sumner, who's been ordered to keep his real purpose secret: computerizing the office."

Reply Score: 1

Memories
by phoudoin on Fri 14th Oct 2011 14:08 UTC
phoudoin
Member since:
2006-06-09

Uh, no tribute to Electric Dreams and Moles, the best home automotion software login name ever!?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_Dreams_%28film%29

Regarding WarGames, his accoustic-coupled modem was very fast to sniff phone numbers! Oh, and the hacker didn't know how to swin 'cause, you know, no time.

Old memories...

Edited 2011-10-14 14:11 UTC

Reply Score: 2

The computers in Star Wars
by amadensor on Fri 14th Oct 2011 17:01 UTC
amadensor
Member since:
2006-04-10

They were actually (other than the AI droids) very believable and realistic, and that is why you didn't see them. Remember that R2-D2 plugged into the port and checked on the status of things? Remember that at each work station there was a console? Remember the 3D view of the Death Star as it came around the moon to blow up Alderdon?

Fully integrated with the systems of the ships, and everywhere being used for getting real things done without being a central fixture. That is fairly realistic.

Reply Score: 2

HAL vs Windows
by StephenBeDoper on Fri 14th Oct 2011 17:26 UTC
StephenBeDoper
Member since:
2005-07-06

Eh, HAL might kill ya, but I think it (he?) would still be less frustrating to use than Windows.

"I'm sorry, Dave, I am unable to continue because an error has occurred."

"Dave, an update to 'Chess' has been downloaded, would you like me to reboot in order to apply the update?"

"I'm sorry, Dave, I can't do that until you insert the CD labeled 'HAL 9000 Setup Disk 1'."

Reply Score: 4

RE: HAL vs Windows
by MacTO on Sat 15th Oct 2011 01:41 UTC in reply to "HAL vs Windows"
MacTO Member since:
2006-09-21

"Dave, an update to 'Chess' has been downloaded, would you like me to reboot in order to apply the update?"


Which is nowhere near as bad as applying a service pack, that may take an hour to apply (during which time, the environmental subsystems will be down).

Reply Score: 2

Demon Seed: the book was much sexier
by Langalf on Sat 15th Oct 2011 03:13 UTC
Langalf
Member since:
2006-04-25

I read Dean Koontz' original 1973 "Demon Seed" years before I saw the movie. The first version of the book was much more sexually explicit, and Proteus much creepier.

Reply Score: 1

benali72 Member since:
2008-05-03

I agree. I'd recommend the book over the movie. The film was kinda lame.

Reply Score: 1

RavinRay
Member since:
2005-11-26

While there's obviously AI here, it's for the androids rather than the computers. But look how an old Commodore PET made it in the command room for the nuclear arms program. Dates the technology of the program doesn't it?

http://www.commodore.ca/gallery/misc/Misc.htm
http://www.commodore.ca/gallery/misc/T3_PET2.jpg
http://www.commodore.ca/gallery/misc/T3_PET4.jpg

Reply Score: 1

IMSAI obsolete?
by kateline on Sat 15th Oct 2011 16:23 UTC
kateline
Member since:
2011-05-19

Are you telling me my IMSAI is obsolete?

Reply Score: 1

Let's Hack the Gibson!
by Paulhekje on Tue 18th Oct 2011 21:13 UTC
Paulhekje
Member since:
2007-10-03

Let's Hack the Gibson!
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113243/

Reply Score: 1