How about a nice game of chess?

War games

Warning: if you haven't seem this movie don't keep reading - lots of spoilers below!

Don't remember how, but I ended up in the page of the manufacturers of the computer which Mathew Broderick used on the mighty War Games, called IMSAI 8080. That page has plenty of trivia and funny facts about the equipment, specially the tricks they did for making the computers stand out more - like adding more leds and indicators (obviously useless), or how did they cheat to make the computer type a complete sentence instead of having to type it by themselves each time (if you pay attention you realise they never mispell a single letter while typing in the movie, and there's a lot of typing in that non-mouses movie!).

So I decided that it was time to revisit one of my child classics. If I recall properly is almost 20 years since I saw the movie so there are lots of details that I missed or forgot. But when watching it again - oh now I understand how I ended up studying Computer Science! that big 8" floppy disk, the synthetiser, all the BIG switches there, and the "Yeah whenever I build I system, I always leave a backdoor". It was so suggestive even then, when I didn't understand the whole meaning of things and didn't know almost nothing of english... Now it has been quite interesting since an important joke was lost in the spanish translation, and it is the name of the super computer. What in spanish was simply W,O,P,R, in the english version is pronounced quite similarly to whopper, which is quite funny. I remember it was also when I started to learn some programming, with LOGO. I used to write programs which output a "Logon:" (even if I didn't know what it meant) and just didn't work until we entered "Joshua". All with that green screen computer... aaah, those were the times, deffinitely...

It was very funny because my school mates were worrying about He-Man and Barbies and I was trying to figure out how to do the kind of pixelated abstract graphics which used to accompany every computer magazine article. But my most important worry was: if we built programs with Logo, and Logo was built with CP/M, which tool was used for creating CP/M?

That was also the time that I learnt how to play chess, so it was all like a converging movie. As I saw later, it had impacted more people than what I thought: first day in the uni, first lecturer's warning: "this is not a war games school - we do not teach how to hack here". You can't imagine our sadness faces...!


The WOPR - aka the Whopper!