Friday, August 1, 2008

Remembering War Games (1983 Film)

I vaguely remember watching this in the movie theater during the initial release and how relevant it was at the time, i.e. Cold War and all. I've seen the movie half a dozen times over the years and it's interesting to watch on several points. First and most obvious, is the diminished threat of nuclear annihilation between the US and USSR since the last 80s. This movie would not have existed without that context and playing off that fear is what made people, including me, watch Matthew Broderick wreak havoc on the US Strategic Command. The other aspect that is interesting to note, is how personal computers had evolved over the last 25 years. Back then, state-of-the-art was dial-in acoustic modems and monochrome, text-only computers. Old Radio Shack type models were used in the movie and with text-only, the 9 bps (or maybe even less) was realistic. And last of all, the way computer geeks are portrayed by Hollywood then and now, seems to have changed little. Film makers have this urge to perpetuate the stereotype and I guess that sells movies (or DVDs, in today's vernacular). Overall, the lessons of War Games still hold true today as it did 25 years, ago. No one wins in tic-tac-toe (or nuclear war).
P.S. The one thing I appreciate a bit more now is the realism of the operations inside Cheyenne Mountain, the headquarters of NORAD, which is the joint American-Canadian set of eyes watching for incoming ballistic missiles into North America. I've was fortunate enough to actually take a tour inside NORAD, or as the residents of Colorado Springs call it, "The Mountain" sometime in the 90s while working for Hughes Space & Communications. On one of the 30+ trips to Colorado Springs, we convinced one of the colonels to arrange for a tour and they obliged.
Here's a group shot with Cheyenne Mountain in the background.

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