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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IMSAI 8080
by MacTO on Thu 13th Oct 2011 23:55 UTC
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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.

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RE: IMSAI 8080
by zima on Fri 14th Oct 2011 00:37 in reply to "IMSAI 8080"
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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

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

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).

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

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 Parent Score: 2