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WarGames and the Great Hacking Scare of 1983

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the next-up-dead-code dept.

Security 331

James W writes "Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the release of WarGames and Christopher Knight has written a retrospective about the film and its impact on popular culture. In addition to discussing how the movie has held up over time, WarGames was responsible for what Knight calls the Great Hacking Scare of 1983. Some examples mentioned are 'one CBS Evening News report at the time that seriously questioned whether parents should allow their children to access the outside world via their personal computers at home. A magazine article suggested that computer modems be 'locked up' just like firearms, to keep them out of the reach of teenagers. I even heard one pundit proclaim that there was no need for regular people to be able to log in to a remote system: that if you need to access your bank account, a friendly teller was just a short drive away. And Bill Gates once declared that the average person would never have a need for more than 640 kilobytes of memory in a personal computer, too.'" 2008 is also 25 years after the real-life prevention of a WarGames-style nuclear incident.

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331 comments

WarGames and Disillusionment (5, Funny)

nurightshu (517038) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658193)

I saw WarGames when I was 5 years old. Later on that year, my father bought us our first computer: an Apple //c. I was incredibly depressed when the computer exhibited neither near-human emotions nor a synthesized English accent.

Re:WarGames and Disillusionment (3, Informative)

NullProg (70833) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658349)

I was incredibly depressed when the computer exhibited neither near-human emotions nor a synthesized English accent.

Thats because you didn't have S.A.M.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_Automatic_Mouth [wikipedia.org]

Enjoy,

Re:WarGames and Disillusionment (3, Funny)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658651)

Good link! I had that cartridge for my C64. Too bad it was pretty much useless -- as no game that I had took advantage of it. I suppose it did at least help teach me to not buy every newfangled gizmo that comes along...

Re:WarGames and Disillusionment (1)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659051)

So that's where Microsoft had the idea for naming their synthesizer SAM? That would be cool (even if it is something Microsoft did). I thought they used it because it's a common name like Joe or something.

Re:WarGames and Disillusionment (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659521)

I thought there was another Apple II program called Parrot that also did this -- spoke what you typed in. I see that S.A.M. has extra hardware (but says it can use the speaker toggle when the hardware wasn't installed). I can find no evidence of the Apple II program called Parrot in a quick search though.

Re:WarGames and Disillusionment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23658983)

I'm pretty sure the synthesized English accent was in Jumping Jack Flash and not WarGames.

Hottest nerds ever.... (5, Funny)

Izabael_DaJinn (1231856) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658231)

Matthew Broderick as David Lightman and Val Kilmer as...Christopher Knight...not the one who wrote the retrospective though....

Uhm...not the Peter Brady one either.

Jeeze. Will the real Chris Knight please stand up?

Re:Hottest nerds ever.... (-1, Offtopic)

Braintrust (449843) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659641)

[izabael.com] Seriously? On Slashdot? Goetic Demons?

"Izabael the genie-demon is my connection to Nuit who is my Goddess. It is by the light of her stars that I find my way through the wild fields of my rampant and ravenous hunger."

Seriously?

I'm sorry. This level of narcissism is not harmless. Your reality is incorrect.

Ugh... (4, Informative)

FrYGuY101 (770432) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658289)

Re:Ugh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23658399)

Bah, what do you think you're going to prove with your facts? Bill Gate$ must have said that:

1) the QUOTE is used in a perfectly awesome article
2) it makes bull Gates look stupid, and he is stupid and a dumb jerk.

thus it is TURE!

Lies! (5, Funny)

aztektum (170569) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658507)

I suppose next you'll try to convince everyone that Al Gore did in fact NOT invent the Internet.

Re:Lies! (1)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659151)

I suppose next you'll try to convince everyone that Al Gore did in fact NOT invent the Internet.
Or that "Hackers" did not provide a realistic portrayal of computer use and operations. (Cancer! Brain! Brain cancer!)

Re:Ugh... (1)

qoncept (599709) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658931)

But you have to admit, it's incredibly relevent to the rest of the story. (I'm rolling my eyes.)

What's more (4, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658977)

DOS has absolutely zero to do with that limit. The limit came from the computers themselves, and how they addressed memory. They had a 20-bit address bus which gives you 1MiB of addressable memory. Now being 16-bit devices, that meant that they accessed it in 64k pages. However, as Gates noted, it was divided so you only had 100 pages that could be used for regular programs. The rest was reserved for hardware. Hence the 640k limit.

You can actually see a similar (though not the same thing) situation today when you approach 4GB of RAM in a 32-bit system. With a 32-bit address bus you can, of course, address 4GB. The problem is that hardware still needs memory areas to work, and actually far more than it used to. So you'll find that you get less than 4GB of RAM accessible, how much depends on what hardware you have installed. To actually get full use of the 4GB of RAM, you'll need to run on a 64-bit chip, which has a larger address bus and thus memory ranges for the hardware.

So DOS was never the reason here. It was the way the hardware was designed.

Re:What's more (4, Informative)

Lally Singh (3427) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659595)

Uh, no.

First, 64k/page * 100 pages is 6400k.

Second, the 640k limit was due to the video ram being mapped in the memory region between 640k and 1 MB, at address A000:0000. Which is why DOS extenders could get you that memory back in 386+, by remapping the memory to other addresses. Here's a memory map: http://www.infokomp.no/techinfo/doc/DosMemory.htm [infokomp.no]

Third, your 32bit/4GB ram stuff is garbage as well. Most OSs claim address space at the end (the upper 1/2GB) for the kernel. That makes it harder to use. It's not a hardware problem at all, OSs tend to have simplistic userland/kernel memory address space mappings. CPUs went to 64 bit before 4GB was cheap enough for this to be a problem, so no work was done to really reduce the kernel address space footprint (or to separate the address spaces altogether).

Stop spreading these myths. (2, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658329)

And Bill Gates once declared that the average person would never have a need for more than 640 kilobytes of memory in a personal computer, too.'"

No. He actually never said that. Not once.

Re:Stop spreading these myths. (0)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658995)

No. He actually never said that. Not once.

I'm sure that in the many years he's been misquoted as saying it, that he's said it in private to someone somewhere. If he said "I never once said '640K is enough for anybody.'!", or "Look Steve, here's that '640K is enough for anybody.' misquote again." then he said "640K is enough for anybody.". It's grossly out of context, to be sure. But I think it is statisically impossible for Gates not to have said some variant of that phrase at some time in his life.

Re:Stop spreading these myths. (1)

Maestro485 (1166937) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659161)

In the end it really doesn't matter, much like Washington's apple tree or Franklin's kite. Sometimes the myth outlives the truth.

The funny thing about that last link.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23658341)

The first post is a Wargames post.

It Was Close (5, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658365)

I was pretty close with some people who had actually hacked into some of those military systems back then. Like Strategic Air Command and others - some people were even showing off evidence they'd hacked the Shuttle's robotic Space Arm. We all watched _Wargames_ together, and were impressed with how basically accurate so much of it was.

Sure, the voice synth following the kids around was fake, and the exploding monitors when driving the AI into a paradox was typical Hollywood BS, as well as a couple other details of the action. Like the geek scoring Ally Sheedy. But overall, it wasn't that wrong about the vulnerability of those systems to any halfway-determined, fairly clever crackers. Of which there were more than just my friends: 1983 was the height of the Cold War, and the Russians still had budgets to spend.

In fact, the public portrayal of our private hobby convinced several of my friends to get out of the game for good, right after seeing the movie. And I've heard that a lot of the cracks portrayed stopped working shortly afterwards.

I just expect that today's even more complex, widespread and lethal systems are just as vulnerable. While not to the same elementary tricks, today's crackers have progressed along with those defending. We really have to be sure that there are a lot of human consciences in the loops, absolutely required to accept passing on an order that could kill or harm millions, maybe billions of people - maybe indeed destroy the world. If there's any lesson to learn, it's that the hairtrigger to extinction itself is the greatest risk, no matter how much those with their fingers on it would like to believe that the safety is engaged.

Re:It Was Close (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658901)

In fact, the public portrayal of our private hobby convinced several of my friends to get out of the game for good, right after seeing the movie. And I've heard that a lot of the cracks portrayed stopped working shortly afterwards
You mean like the old "using a paperclip to short the receiver against the coin slot on a payphone to make a free call trick"?

Yeah, I know. I was there. AT&T bastards.

Re:It Was Close (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659753)

You mean like the old "using a paperclip to short the receiver against the coin slot on a payphone to make a free call trick"?
It was a pull-tab from a soda or beer can. Probably not even aluminum.

Besides the 8" floppies, the pull-tab really does date that movie.

Re:It Was Close (5, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658947)

On the DVD commentary track, director John Badham talks about how they used several technical advisers from a specific phreaker club (in Michigan I think) to handle the film's technical details and hacker culture. They did a good job. It is easily the most technically accurate of the hacker films (not that it has much competition, really). And it has a good story too. Holds up amazingly well even today (wish they would release an anamorphic DVD of it, though).

Re:It Was Close (4, Funny)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659495)

Pity that they've stopped getting advisers for movies.

The list of movies with factually correct technical details is small.
It was nice that they did it properly for The Matrix though.

Re:It Was Close (2, Funny)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659625)

It is easily the most technically accurate of the hacker films
Maybe if you don't count Tron. They drew the lightcycles and tanks exactly how they really look inside the computer.

Re:It Was Close (2, Interesting)

businessnerd (1009815) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659847)

I was actually watching this movie recently. I was really surprised (and pleased) at how well this movie holds up technically. The only technical aspect that I disagreed with was the human-like response of Joshua and its self-awareness. Something that was highly improbably then, and even today, but maybe the future. Anyhow, you can chalk that up to making the story more compelling and the computer more interesting.

But the parent post brings up an interesting point. There are not a lot of technically accurate hacker/computer movies out there. The movie Hackers is a prime example of a completely inaccurate movie. The only other hacker movie I've seen that comes close is Takedown (essentially the Kevin Mitnick story from the perspective of the guy who caught him), but this is based on real events, so it's not quite the same. Furthermore, I've read that the events in the movie differ from Mitnicks account of things and there is a lot of embellishment and artistic license. But I'm rambling.

So I ask the Slashdot audience - What other computer/hacker/technology movies out there actually measure up on a technical level?

Well the US military follows that doctrine (5, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659101)

Humans are always in the loop when it comes to weapons systems. Even things like modern planes. Humans don't actually trigger bomb releases anymore. It's far too complicated and there's a lot involved in guided weapons. It's all programmed in prior to the mission. Ok so what does the pilot do then? They consent to release. When they activate the trigger it doesn't drop the bomb, it just enables the plane to drop it when it is time.

That is, of course, unnecessary in a technical sense. The plane could simply drop at the programmed location. However it is part of the doctrine that a human always has the final call. Should the pilot decide something is wrong, they don't press the trigger and the bomb won't drop.

So at this point at least in the US, it is very much a system where humans are always in the loop. Machines may do the actual work, but there is always a human with their finger on the trigger who has to make the decision to fire.

Re:Well the US military follows that doctrine (1)

Lally Singh (3427) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659629)

I agree 100% with your assessment of the current situation.

But, with the caveat that it doesn't apply to externally-triggered explosives, like land mines. One could apply the logic of land mines to automatically triggered unmanned vehicles that defend a perimeter.

Re:In the movie they address that issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23659699)

In the very beginning of the movie they show the human operators of the missile silos being replaced by fully automated systems because they have problems getting them to actually launch when they have launch drills. In reality, there are so many missile sites that even if a third fail to launch for one reason or another there are still more than enough to assure the total destruction of any attacker.

Let the kids play... (-1, Flamebait)

SammyB (903607) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658389)

I still think our odds for survival are better letting an angst-ridden teen hacker play global thermonuclear war than our sitting president.

Locking up computers (2, Insightful)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658537)

A magazine article suggested that computer modems be 'locked up' just like firearms, to keep them out of the reach of teenagers.
Um, in light of the Patriot Act and the DMCA, isn't this advice even more relevant today? I think some $5,000-poorer parents would agree.

Re:Locking up computers (2, Funny)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658679)

If you're spending $5,000 for a modem (or an entire personal computer, for that matter), you're spending far too much.

Re:Locking up computers (2, Informative)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658747)

He is talking about the mafia (music/recording industry derogatory term) suing them for downloading music/movies.

Movie wasn't that good (1)

PingXao (153057) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658555)

The only people who were deeply affected by that movie were either impressionable young people or those truly clueless about technology because the movie itself wasn't that good or believable, even for 1983. If you think most people know squat about computers today you should have seen how it was in 1983. Everybody knows the way you fry a computer's brain is to ask it to calculate pi to the last digit.

Re:Movie wasn't that good (4, Funny)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658697)

Everybody knows the way you fry a computer's brain is to ask it to calculate pi to the last digit.
PI has a last digit?!

/brain explodes

Re:Movie wasn't that good (2, Interesting)

Mascot (120795) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658767)

I was affected by it because of how realistic it was, obviously accepting the things they did to make it actually watchable.

We're talking acoustic modem, with realistic soundbit (from what I remember). Social engineering and research to figure out passwords, not just staring at a screen for 10 seconds before magically punching in the correct one. Back doors. Phreaking (dunno if the portrayal was accurate, but phone booths around these parts fell victim to something not too far removed from what was shown in the movie).

I agree with the article, the movie works even today. It's only a few years since I last watched it myself, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Re:Movie wasn't that good (2, Interesting)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659301)

Actually all I liked was the line at the end of the movie: "Strange game, the only winning move is not to play" or something similar. It's obvious, simple and not a major breakthrough but coming from the computer and put in that context it felt so right. It just struck something in me, something very few movies can do these days.

The rest of the movie was similar to the movies for children that they make today like spy-kids and others (OK, maybe a bit better): some kid that can do anything and that is not believed by elders because he's so immature and inexperienced so he has to take matters into his own hands.

Re:Movie wasn't that good (2, Insightful)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659543)

The rest of the movie was similar to the movies for children that they make today like spy-kids
While I will be the first to admit that WarGames was in fact totally UNrealistic with more than its share of absurd hollywood computer moments, that is a bit unfair. That's the kind of kiddie show that my 9 year old nephew would watch and he's a complete rocks-for-brains moron. Different demographics I think. Wargames was shooting more for teens than preteens.

Re:Movie wasn't that good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23659061)

Everybody knows the way you fry a computer's brain is to ask it to calculate pi to the last digit.
If you can't log in, you can't ask it anything.

Re:Movie wasn't that good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23659585)

"Remember you told me to tell you when you were acting rudely and insensitively? Remember that? You're doing it right now."

It's a movie, bubby. Ever seen Independence Day or The Matrix? Modern films are so much more reliable when it comes to computer technology, aren't they?

WarGames is not War And Peace, no, and thank God for that. It was FUN.

Thank God (1)

Higaran (835598) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658569)

I still don't use a modem where I have to pick up the phone and place it on top, I've never actually seen one of those in real life, but it seamed cool when I was growing up. The flopies too, I'm not sure if there is a file that I used today on a regular basis that could even fit on one of those.

Re:Thank God (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658703)

In high school, I took a correspondence class through the University of Missouri, and I had to submit the answers to my scantron-style tests via that sort of modem in our guidance counselors' office. So they did exist. Even then they were pretty outdated, though - this was like 1996. No clue why they still used it for this system.

Re:Thank God (2, Funny)

BigBlueOx (1201587) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658951)

You don't use an acoustic modem?? How'd you get on this board?? Sheesh.

And those 8-inch single-sided 160k floppies are *perfect* for storing pr0n! I use mine to store my collection of ASCII-art pictures of Playboy playmates. Drool, drool. You can get a really good selection if you know the right boards to call.

Re:Thank God (3, Informative)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659057)

They were slightly older tech in 1983. But that only makes it more likely a teenager would have one.

Re:Thank God (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23659317)

I used one at a bank. It was connected to a DecWriter. 300 screaming bps. And I do mean screaming. Their phones were AT&T Merlin units, so the handset did not fit the cups on the modem, and you had to set a book, or something, on the handset to keep it from popping out, and a lot of sound escaped around that Merlin handset. "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" for hours at a time. Torquemada would have loved it.

it certainly cost me (4, Interesting)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658577)

The day after my parents saw that movie my modem was taken away, never to return.

Apparently they were genuinely afraid that I might start a war inadvertently by logging into the wrong computer by mistake.

Ok, so I had, um, well, logged into a mainframe that sort of didn't belong to me, but I was a kid, and this was the eighties, it was still harmless fun back then, more likely to see you employed then arrested. Nowadays for the same thing I'd be sent to prison.

Now that's scary.

Re:it certainly cost me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23659065)

You probably meant

it was still harmless fun back then, more likely to see you employed than arrested..
How just one letter can make a difference :-)

Might as well mention the DEFCON game (4, Informative)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658615)

By Introversion Software [introversion.co.uk] . It's the "Global Thermonuclear War" game from the movie, mostly. Fun, though a little disturbing at times. Runs on Linux and Mac, too. Inexpensive as well.

In fact, I think I'll go home and play some.

Re:Might as well mention the DEFCON game (5, Funny)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658989)

> I think I'll go home and play some.

Spoiler alert:
The only way to win is to not play the game.

Re:Might as well mention the DEFCON game (1)

hairykrishna (740240) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659601)

No, it's totally winnable. Now I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed, but I do say no more then ten to twenty million killed, tops. Depending on the breaks.

Re:Might as well mention the DEFCON game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23659007)

Wouldn't you prefer a nice game of chess?

The Great Hacking Scare of 1983? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23658627)

What's that? Something like the Great L.A. Marijuana Drought of '86?

Effect on hacking, BBSes etc. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23658635)

One thing the movie did was launch a boom of pre-teen and teenage boys (like myself) buying modems, "war-dialing" and hacking into systems. A ton of people surged into the BBS "modem world" after that movie, including myself with my old trusty Hayes-compatible 300 baud modem hooked up to my Commodore 64 and television set. Half the boards were run by teenagers, and almost all of them had a hacking section. There were a lot of Feature Group B (950 numbers) floating around back then so people didn't have to pay for calls, nothing I ever did - from my house. I didn't get interested in hacking until the late 1980s, went to 2600 meetings, traveled to a few cons and I knew a number of people in the Legion of Doom as well as the Masters of Deception and other groups. Coming into the early 1990s you had groups who really had total control of Bell companies, the then-popular x.25 protocol networks, as well as having penetrated major Internet points more than you'd think, not to mention major software/hardware companies.


The thing that really killed all of this was not government persecution. It was the carrot, not the stick - in 1994, a number of hackers began to get good jobs, by 1995 most hackers had good jobs and by 1996 pretty much every hacker had a good job. I went from being broke in 1996 to making $60 grand a year in 1997 without a college diploma.


Another interesting thing is 2600 was founded in the year TAP died, 1984. TAP had come out of YIPL, a magazine of Abbie Hoffman's old Yippies. TAP meetings and 2600 meetings basically came out of the new left of the 1960s. I look at the whole hacker movement from the late 1970s to the mid 1990s as an interesting historical social movement. It is kind of like the US labor movement, which was also bought out by money (in the late 1940s).

Re:Effect on hacking, BBSes etc. (1)

KudyardRipling (1063612) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658889)

With soaring higher education costs, declining wages and dwindling opportunities, eventually an underclass will form to take up where the 1990's crowd left off, tyranny or not.

Content industry slamming the competition. (3, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658655)

WarGames was responsible for what Knight calls the Great Hacking Scare of 1983. Some examples mentioned are 'one CBS Evening News report at the time that seriously questioned whether parents should allow their children to access the outside world via their personal computers at home. A magazine article suggested that computer modems be 'locked up' just like firearms, to keep them out of the reach of teenagers.

Back in those days there was more separation between TV show and movie production. And the TV executives were concerned about anything that pulled people's eyeballs away from the boob-tube (and money from their advertising rates). So there were a lot of shows that slammed the new distractions: Personal computers, networking (especially bulletin-board systems), electronic games, etc.

Similarly a few years further back, when they did the same bit on cable TV - when the separation was still more pronounced and they were worried about losing audience to paid programming such as commercial-free movie channels. I recall one cop show where the murder was committed by a cable TV operator over the negotiations and competitive bidding on a franchise to wire a city or broadcast some team's sporting events.

I went to see it with my Girlfriend. (2, Funny)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658659)

I went to see it with my girlfriend. I had a brand new C64 at home and had just finished my first programing class and was getting ready to start college.
We enjoyed the movie but my girl friend got miffed when the Alley Sheenie's character didn't know what MIRVs where. She also said "Yea right they are going to nuke us in the next few hours and we are going to waste our last few hours trying to swim to the mainland!"
It was a good summer.

Re:I went to see it with my Girlfriend. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23659285)

"Launch codes? What do those do?"

Best. Quote. Evar.

Ally Sheedy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23658717)

I wanted to connect with Ally, not WOPR.

I'm still amazed at (4, Funny)

NullProg (70833) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658719)

how well this movie still remains relevant today.

- The introverted genius, but under-achieving nerd.
- Does not RTFM, but asks for expert help first in understanding the program.
- Hours of relentless researching to find the flaws (hacks) in the target.
- 3rd party vendor mistakes allow entry point for unwanted intruders.
- Hacker not realizing they are not in the system they think they are.

Best quote ever by a end user:
General Beringer: Mr. McKittrick, after very careful consideration, sir, I've come to the conclusion that your new defense system sucks.

Enjoy,

Re:I'm still amazed at (3, Funny)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659009)

Hours of relentless researching to find the flaws (hacks) in the target.

Yeah! The only film I've ever seen where we get a hacking montage.

Most hacker movies give us a line like "try the tech with the babble on the jargon". No indication that hacking actually requires work.

Re:I'm still amazed at (3, Funny)

Lurker2288 (995635) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659039)

Come on, do you really think that quote is better than this one?

Mr. Liggett: All right, Lightman. Can you tell us who first suggested the idea of reproduction without sex?
David: Um...your wife?
Liggett: Get out, Lightman. Get out.

Re:I'm still amazed at (4, Insightful)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659351)

I usually avoid any mass-media portrayal of computers and computer crime, because it usally ends up being unadulterated drivel. But when I first saw WarGames last year, I was shocked and (quite frankly) impressed. Sure there was a lot of drivel in there, but a lot of it could be considered as artistic license. The teen had to turn on a voice synthesis unit the first time the computer talked, so the talking computer wasn't magic. At least not in Lightman's room. They were quite clear that Lightman's computer sequentially tried numbers to find an access point and they found other interesting systems before getting into military systems. Again, magic was not involved. Breaking into systems usually involved some sort of research, may it be swiping passwords from the school office or doing some hard research on the people involved. He didn't magically guess the password after two failed attempts. Sure the computer had a personality, just like HAL in 2001 had a personality, but it's not as though he was dumped into some flakey virtual world. Movies are a balance between what will entertain, and what will suspend the viewers disbelief. WarGames is no exception, and I think that WarGames struck a decent balance between both. After all, how many people would want to watch a Soviet computer expert being fed information from a few spies. Who would want to watch a movie where that spy, once caught, would have a near-zero chance of escaping. Boring. Right. At least for most people.

I hated that movie (2, Funny)

eric76 (679787) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658739)

Not for the movie itself, but afterwards, there were so many twerps out there war dialing everything that it wasn't unusual at times to receive two or three calls per night.

Of course, it might not have been like that everywhere. At the time, my office was across the fence from the Johnson Space Center. I suspect that any prefix in that area was considered to be a good target.

We also had several consecutive telephone numbers. When the war dialers hit the first, you could be pretty sure that they were going to hit the rest in turn.

With all the aggravation from the large numbers of calls in the middle of the night, I thought that everyone involved in that movie should be should have been strung up from the nearest tree.

Re:I hated that movie (1)

gklinger (571901) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658913)

Not for the movie itself, but afterwards, there were so many twerps out there war dialing everything that it wasn't unusual at times to receive two or three calls per night.


That struck me funny because before WarGames it wasn't called "war dialing".

WSMR (3, Funny)

prakslash (681585) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658761)

I was a little kid back in the late 80s. Once an older relative of mine who was in college showed me how he had made a computer connection to the Simtel20 FTP site. He downloaded some games for me. The welcome screen of the FTP site said: "Welcome to White Sand Missile Range, Nevada".

I remember being very impressed and proud at the time thinking that someone in my family could hack into a military site! :-)

It made me want to learn computers even more.

Re:WSMR (3, Funny)

eharvill (991859) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659367)

I was a little kid back in the late 80s. Once an older relative of mine who was in college showed me how he had made a computer connection to the Simtel20 FTP site. He downloaded some games for me. The welcome screen of the FTP site said: "Welcome to White Sand Missile Range, Nevada".

I remember being very impressed and proud at the time thinking that someone in my family could hack into a military site! :-)

It made me want to learn computers even more.

LOL, you didn't hack into a military site. White Sands is in New Mexico... :-P

No Modem for You! (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658777)

Because of War Games, my Mom refused to let me get a modem for my Commodore 64. Stupid Matthew Broderick...

Ah, the memories. (1)

gklinger (571901) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658843)

I enjoyed the movie. What I didn't enjoy was the waves of new callers to my BBS, many of whom were convinced that leaving an application for validation constituted 'hacking in'. Every second application was for Joshua or Dr. Falken. That got old very quickly. The other regrettable side-effect of the movie was that our family phone would ring two or three times a night as newbs dutifully dialed every number in our prefix because they were sure the BBS was a front for something more interesting. My parents were not pleased.

all the memory you need (2, Funny)

jerry westerby (1301219) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658915)

"Bill Gates once declared that the average person would never have a need for more than 640 kilobytes of memory in a personal computer" Which explains why his bloatware uses all but 640k of any pc onto which it is installed.

Wow (1)

sentientbrendan (316150) | more than 5 years ago | (#23658965)

we almost had a *full slashdot article* where there was no mention of Microsoft, or its vast conspiracy to enslave all intelligent life into its hive mind.

Just you know, a piece of *news* for *nerds*.

> And Bill Gates once declared that the
>average person would never have a need for
>more than 640 kilobytes of memory in a
>personal computer, too.'"

Awww, and then you ruined it.

Re:Wow (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659035)

One of the founders of IBM, something-or-other Watson, once said that he only foresaw a market for a handful of computers in the whole world and that practically no one would ever need one.

I think that would have been a much more apt comparison to the "no one would ever need a modem" comment. Then again, what would Slashdot be without MS bashing?

Elementary School (5, Funny)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659019)

I think the year was 1990 or 1991 -- I was about 6 or 7. On a tour of the school library, the librarian made a point of telling us about the modem they had connected to the computer in the library.

I had an old Leading Edge computer at home, running DOS 2.0. I asked if it were possible for someone to dial into the library's computer and erase their overdue fines.

Thus was ended the tour of the library, and the modem was never mentioned again.

We should only need more like 64K bytes (0, Redundant)

gemtech (645045) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659131)

"And Bill Gates once declared that the average person would never have a need for more than 640 kilobytes of memory in a personal computer, too."
So why is it I have to continually add RAM to my computers to bring their speed back up after a Windoze update?

Re:We should only need more like 64K bytes (1)

jslater25 (1005503) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659763)

I think this old proverb is appropriate here: It's better to be silent and thought a fool, than to speak up and remove all doubt. If you read any of the thread (yes, I realize this is /. and therefore no one reads anything...), you would have noticed that several people explained that Mr. Bill Gates did not declare that 640 KB nonsense. Here is the link that samkass has in his post: http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue5_10/wiggins/ [firstmonday.org]

The More Things Change... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23659273)

> A magazine article suggested that computer modems be 'locked
> up' just like firearms, to keep them out of the reach of teenagers.
> I even heard one pundit proclaim that there was no need for
> regular people to be able to log in to a remote system: that if
> you need to access your bank account, a friendly teller was just a
> short drive away. And Bill Gates once declared that the average
> person would never have a need for more than 640 kilobytes of
> memory in a personal computer, too.'

          It is amazing how much things have not changed since then. The why-do-we-really-need-this-technology crowd got all of this completely wrong in 1983, yet today the same sort of people are saying that 5 GB per month is more than enough for anybody, and that there is no need for average people to use p2p, and that no-one really needs speeds of 50 Mbs, and so on. Some people never learn.

How dare you sir, how dare you !!! (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659281)

And Bill Gates once declared that the average person would never have a need for more than 640 kilobytes of memory in a personal computer, too.'
how dare you imply that Bill, darling of hordes of ms fanbois, is someone who lacks vision ?

shame on you !! you hear me ? shame on you and your family !!

I was there in 1983... (3, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659313)

...and I can tell you the tellers were not that friendly.
ATMs and on-line banking are blissfully free of surly humans wearing disco outfits.

kids shouldnt use the phone either (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23659409)

Computers? Hell I won't even let my kids use the phone.

It Has Held Up Well... (4, Insightful)

morari (1080535) | more than 5 years ago | (#23659559)

Ultimately, the film was not about showing off flashing technology. If it were, it would be dated and obsolete. Thankfully, the film was actually a well done commentary on human condition and how we relate paranoia and war. On that front, it succeeded and shall continue to. That kind of thinking doesn't age, it's all relevant. Perhaps even more so nowadays.
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