Computers Go Hollywood

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Have you ever been watching a TV show or a movie and spotted a familiar computer? [James Carter] did and he created a website to help you identify which old computers appear in TV shows and movies. We came across this when researching another post about an old computer and wondered if it was any old movies. It wasn’t.

You can search by computer or by title. There are also ratings about how visible, realistic, and important the computer is for each item. The database only contains fictional works, not commercials or documentaries. The oldest entry we could find was 1950’s Destination Moon which starred a GE Differential Analyzer. Well, also John Archer, we suppose. We assume GE had a good agent as the same computer showed up in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956) and When Worlds Collide (1951). You can see a clip of the computer’s appearance in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, below.

We got excited when we didn’t see the Altair 8800 listed with The Six Million Dollar Man. But, alas, [James] has a list of things he hasn’t got around to yet and it is on that list. It is hard to tell which computer has the most screen credits, although we were amused to see how often the Burroughs B205 turned up, including in the Batcave.

We often spot some piece of gear other than a computer on the air, but we haven’t found a reference website for that. The old Battlestar Galactica had a fortune in Tektronix test equipment aboard. If you remember the show Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Dr. Huer had an autoclave on his desk that one of the Hackday crew had in his lab at the same time.

We keep waiting for Mr. Robot to open up Hackaday on his tablet, but so far no joy. Of course, how computers are used on the screen can range from accurate to ridiculous. If you want to know which is which, it seems everyone has an opinion.