Friday A/V Club: Hollywood Explains These New-Fangled Computer Thingies

For the filmmakers of the '80s, computers were magic and hackers were wizards.


When the press discovered computer crimes in the 1980s, reporters took a special interest in the exploits of hackers under the age of 20. Hollywood quickly grabbed ahold of the idea, producing a series of tales that took the stereotype of the teenaged computer nerd and gave the figure demonic powers. For most audiences in those days, PCs were novel and networks were exotic, so the people making these stories did not, by and large, strive to create a realistic portrait. In movieland, computers were magic and hackers were wizards.

The folks at Found Item Clothing have put together a funny collection of clips from the era:

You can quibble with whether some of those really belong there—Blade Runner was set in the future, for example, so it wasn't pretending to represent computers as they actually were. Still: fun stuff. And it only scratches the surface—they don't even get into how computers were represented on TV. (For a particularly weird bit of '80s television about hackers, check this out.)

Today, of course, computers and the Internet are part of the fabric of everyday life, so the people who make movies and TV are careful to get everything right. Or not.

(For past installments of the Friday A/V Club, go here.)