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WarGames and the Great Hacking Scare of 1983 331

Posted by timothy
from the next-up-dead-code dept.
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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WarGames and the Great Hacking Scare of 1983

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  • by hostyle (773991) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:16PM (#23658185)
    if yesterday was the anniversary .. isnt this a bit late?
  • by nurightshu (517038) * <rightshu@cox.net> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:16PM (#23658193) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by Izabael_DaJinn (1231856) * <slashdotNO@SPAMizabael.com> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:18PM (#23658231) Homepage Journal
    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?

  • Ugh... (Score:5, Informative)

    by FrYGuY101 (770432) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:21PM (#23658289) Journal
    No. Bill Gates did not say that [google.com].
    • Lies! (Score:5, Funny)

      by aztektum (170569) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:33PM (#23658507)
      I suppose next you'll try to convince everyone that Al Gore did in fact NOT invent the Internet.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by samkass (174571)
        No, he did... he just never claimed to have done so [firstmonday.org].
        • From the linked article:

          "I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

          ...sounds frighteningly close to "I invented the Internet" to me.

          • Re:Lies! (Score:5, Informative)

            by Miseph (979059) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:59PM (#23660893) Journal
            Frighteningly close? Really?

            Perhaps if the real inventors of the internet hadn't basically come out and validated his quote in full, you could get away with saying that, but since they did (and since you took that snippet out of a context that actually explains HOW he did it) I'm left with you having some axe to grind with Gore (and I can't imagine what it is at this point).

            Anyway, for anyone out there who still thinks that gore even misspoke... he claimed to have taken initiative in creating the legislation which created (largely by funding) a larger version of ARPAnet that was accessible to the public at large. In other words, he has never claimed any (direct) technical contribution to the internet, but has claimed legislative, financial, legal, and social contributions to it. This makes sense, if you keep in mind that there are ways to contribute to technology other than coding.
      • by oahazmatt (868057)

        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!)
    • by qoncept (599709)
      But you have to admit, it's incredibly relevent to the rest of the story. (I'm rolling my eyes.)
    • What's more (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:03PM (#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 (Score:5, Informative)

        by Lally Singh (3427) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:42PM (#23659595) Journal
        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).

        • Ummm so as for the 100 thing yes, I tapped the zero one too many time. Sorry, mistakes happen. As for the reason we are saying the same thing but apparently you can't or don't read. As I said, it was reserved for hardware. As for the 4GB stuff, no, it isn't garbage. Get yourself a modern system and try it. It isn't a matter of kernel vs user space, it is a matter of total available RAM. You will find it varies per system. It's generally above 3 GB, but not always. You can ask your system, if you like, what
        • Re:What's more (Score:5, Informative)

          by Lemming Mark (849014) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:20PM (#23660297) Homepage

          Uh, no. First, 64k/page * 100 pages is 6400k.

          Actually, I recall x86's real mode pages actually overlapped in the bus address ranges that they mapped to. So in this case number of pages * page size doesn't give total addressable real memory. Can't remember the actual numbers, however.

          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).

          Actually, although what you say is true, the OP was also entirely correct in noting that hardware sometimes makes large regions of memory unavailable, even in relatively recent computers. The situation in question is independent of the OS memory model, although that has its own implications for memory use.

          PCI memory mapped IO needs to be put somewhere at a physical address that the CPU is able to access. Although since the Pentium Pro it's been possible for x86 machines to address 36 bits of physical address space, some motherboards only actually give them 32 address lines to use.

          If you stick 4GB of RAM in such a box then the memory mapped IO regions need to go somewhere that the CPU can still address them using only 32 address lines. Since the CPU has only 2^32 bytes = 4GB addressable this necessarily means that they have to alias real RAM regions. Those RAM regions are rendered inaccessible. There's nothing you can do to get them back, either - you can't remap them to a different place because you're limited by the 32 physical address lines. This is sometimes called a "memory hole".

          This is compounded by the fact that some BIOSes are worse at allocating memory mapped IO spaces than others. They sometimes seem to use up hundreds of megabytes for these IO regions. I think that's more a case of the allocation policies being stupid than that quantity of addressable memory actually being needed. The problem isn't entirely trivial, though, since I think PCI devices can request certain alignments of their memory regions, so they can't just be placed anywhere.

          Event 32-bit server grade hardware typically offers support for the CPU physically to address more than 32-bits of physical memory, enabling these systems to play games with remapping memory to make all 4G (or more) of RAM be accessible, whilst providing the necessary MMIO regions. Those of us who are using lower grade hardware (me, for instance!) are limited to smaller memory sizes by the motherboard, regardless of what the CPU chip and OS are capable of addressing.

          I was not pleased when I discovered my own machines suffered from this "feature" but equally well I was pleased when I got this machine cheap. I guess you can't have everything!

          • Gee thanks (Score:5, Funny)

            by Joe U (443617) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @11:01PM (#23663237) Homepage Journal
            Oh fuck you all for making me re-live the hell that was DOS memory managment.

            Now I'm going to have those nightmares again.
            • Re:Gee thanks (Score:5, Informative)

              by Lemming Mark (849014) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @11:13PM (#23663329) Homepage

              Now I'm going to have those nightmares again.

              Just quit sleeping, it'll be fine ;-)

              I don't think it will probably help if I now remind you that all x86 CPUs, even your spiffy new multicore multi-GHz 64-bit gaming rig boot up believing they are an 8086. Your PC relives that memory management hell every time you switch it on until the software comes along and sets the "you're not a stupid old CPU" flag.

              For this reason, it's important to remember not to touch the PC case whilst it's booting, otherwise you might get some real mode ectoplasm on you and be contaminated with insane memory models.

              PS, don't have nightmares.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Actually, I recall x86's real mode pages actually overlapped in the bus address ranges that they mapped to. So in this case number of pages * page size doesn't give total addressable real memory. Can't remember the actual numbers, however.
            You seem to be the first one to remember the gist of it. The 8086 had 16 bit pointers (I think there was another term) and 16 bit segments. The physical address was Segment*16 + pointer, meaning only the four least significant bits were identified entirely by the simple
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Lemming Mark (849014)

              You seem to be the first one to remember the gist of it. The 8086 had 16 bit pointers (I think there was another term) and 16 bit segments. The physical address was Segment*16 + pointer, meaning only the four least significant bits were identified entirely by the simple pointer and there was effectively 20 bit addressing, for 1MB of addressable memory.

              Ah, thanks for that. Yes, that's what I was remembering but you remembered it better :-)

              FWIW, I suspect the "pointers" were probably called something like "logical addresses" or "linear addresses", I can't remember which... x86 has some funny addressing terminology of its own and I think those terms come up when talking about protected mode; I suspect they come up with a slightly different meaning in 8086 as well.

              According to my x86 assembler teacher (this is the guy who taught us to time delays by calculating cycles and clock speed, so take it with a grain of salt), the idea was to allow programs to use hard-coded pointer values, while the segment would let the program be put wherever in memory it actually fit. I was taking x86 assembler from the EE department at the time, and when I asked my SPARC assembler teacher in the CS department how SPARC did it, he said that everything there used relative pointers.

              For some reason I genuinely expected you to say "when I asked my SPARC teacher how t

    • "No. Bill Gates did not say that."

      If you said something so totally retarded, wouldn't you deny it too?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 1u3hr (530656)
        "No. Bill Gates did not say that."
        If you said something so totally retarded, wouldn't you deny it too?

        And if I was a famous person, someone would delight in finding proof that I had. No one ever has. When you can provide a citation -- eg, date and issue of magazine article, or even some someone credible on record saying they heard Gates say this, it's just an urban myth (aka "lie").

    • Great. Point me to an article where the perpetrator says he didn't say it. Nice.
    • No, but he did say: "I have to say in 1981 making those decisions I felt like I was providing enough freedom for ten years, that is the move from 64k to 640k felt like something that would last a great deal of time".

      Make what you will of the meaning. Most people seem to be fine with boiling it down to Bill Gates saying 640k is more memory than anyone would ever need. Of course, he ate those words less than ten years later (his timeline, not mine).

  • 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.
  • It Was Close (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:25PM (#23658365) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:47PM (#23658729)

      >Like the geek scoring Ally Sheedy.

      That's how you know it was a science fiction movie and not a documentary.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      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.
      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        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.
      • by IAmGarethAdams (990037) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:54PM (#23660845)

        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"?
        Hi! It looks like you're trying to make a free call, would you like some assistance?
      • by Jester99 (23135) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @09:22PM (#23662395) Homepage
        No, he's referring to the "look in the drawer in the principal's office where they write down the password for the school mainframe" trick :)

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by corbettw (214229)
          People didn't learn that lesson too quickly. Broderick used that same trick in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, three years later.
    • Re:It Was Close (Score:5, Interesting)

      by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:01PM (#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).
      • by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:35PM (#23659495) Homepage
        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: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Sloppy (14984)

        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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by businessnerd (1009815)
        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 technicall
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:12PM (#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.
      • by Lally Singh (3427)
        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:It Was Close (Score:4, Informative)

      by asackett (161377) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:37PM (#23660559) Homepage
      I call bullshit. Y'see, I was in the USAF Space Command at the time, in Missile Warning and Space Surveillance. There were no dialup modems to which you and your buddies could connect, no external connections to MILNET at all.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by man_of_mr_e (217855)
        If you'd seen the movie, you'd know that they explained that. The breach occured through an external contractor who was on a secure network that allowed them backdoor access.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by falconwolf (725481)

        There were no dialup modems to which you and your buddies could connect, no external connections to MILNET at all.

        Actually there was a way in. Then at UC Berkley Cliff Stole [kentlaw.edu] found someone had gained access to a system at Berkley which was then used to access military computers. He later wrote a book, "The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage" [amazon.com], about it. Some crackers, as they didn't follow the hacker ethic [wikipedia.org] I won't call them hackers, in Germany being paid by the KGB was

  • by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:35PM (#23658537) Homepage

    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.
  • 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.
    • by D Ninja (825055) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:45PM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mascot (120795)
      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
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by hvm2hvm (1208954)
        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
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by 0111 1110 (518466)

          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.
      • phreaking (Score:3, Informative)

        by falconwolf (725481)

        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).

        How it was done was even easier than the movie portrayed it, for long distance calls a signal of 2600 Hz [wikipedia.org] would allow free calls. At the tyme Cap'n Crunch [wikipedia.org] included a whistle in the box that produced that signal. So all you needed to do was blow the whistle to make a free call. Blue boxes [wikipedia.org] which made the sound were also made.

        Falcon

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Mascot (120795)
          Yes, I know. But obviously he didn't request a ready trunk that way, he did it with a piece of metal. I don't know if what he did was in fact a workable exploit at the time, but I do know phone booths around here were prone to something similar (ie, not sound based). Anyways, my point was that while it may not have been entirely accurate, the fact was you *could* fool phone booths in much the manner that was portrayed in the move.

          Lots of other small details were dead on. For those like me, with some interes
  • it certainly cost me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thermian (1267986) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:38PM (#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.
  • by Dr. Manhattan (29720) <sorceror171@gmai l . c om> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:41PM (#23658615) Homepage
    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    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 t
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:43PM (#23658655) Journal
    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.
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:43PM (#23658659) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • by NullProg (70833) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:46PM (#23658719) Homepage Journal
    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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      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.
    • by Lurker2288 (995635) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:08PM (#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.
    • by MacTO (1161105) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:27PM (#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.
  • by eric76 (679787) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:47PM (#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.
    • by gklinger (571901)
      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".

  • CPE 1704 TKS! I refuse to double-check my results with google!
  • WSMR (Score:4, Funny)

    by prakslash (681585) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @04:48PM (#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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by eharvill (991859)

      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

  • Because of War Games, my Mom refused to let me get a modem for my Commodore 64. Stupid Matthew Broderick...
  • 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 we
  • "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.
  • 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.
    • by bsDaemon (87307)
      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?
  • by bsDaemon (87307) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:05PM (#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.
  • 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 !!
  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:24PM (#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.

  • by morari (1080535) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:39PM (#23659559) Journal
    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.
  • "I'd piss on a sparkplug if I'd thought it would do any good." ...which also happens to be President Bush's approach to foreign policy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TenBrothers (995309)
      You have no idea what the quote means. "I'd piss on a sparkplug if I thought it'd do any good" means that you're open to trying ANY solution to fix the problem. Not simply the foolhardiest solution.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:04PM (#23659991)
    I saw War Games on AMC Tuesday night and hadnt seen it for years. The ancient computers brought back nightmares of the limitations of that time. However, many of the tricks then-very-skinny Matthew Broedrick used to hack computers are still relevant. He systematically scanned ports, looked up personal info on people for password clues, used social engineering to fleece information. The strangest thing was him physically going to the library to do research. People use online search now.
  • by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:36PM (#23660541) Homepage Journal
    If I was a teenager alone in my room with Ally Sheedy, the computer would get very little attention.
  • by logicassasin (318009) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:47PM (#23660721)
    My mother was all set to buy a modem for the Atari 800XL I was getting for christmas that year. After she walked out of the theater, the modem was cancelled until I was 18. My mother and teachers felt it was for the best as I was one of a handful of kids they figured would attempt to copy the movie.

    I did, secretly, get a 2400baud modem that I used with my Atari ST during my sophmore year in high school. I hit a few BBS's but that's about all you COULD really do back then.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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