Monthly Archives: July 2015

Wacky Wednesday: Our Favorite Computer Movies

“I’m in!” and “Hack into the back door” are some key phrases needed in any computer movie, and where would we be without those computer geniuses at age 16? Without them, we wouldn’t be able to hack into the Pentagon, create a model AI beauty nor see the truth in the matrix. Here is a list of our favorite computer movies:

5. The Matrix-1999

An obvious one, we know, but for good reason! This movie was released on the cusp of the millennium, making the fear of Y2K and the takeover of the machines even more likely. And while some will argue Keanu Reeves’s best role was in ‘Bill & Ted’s Most Excellent Adventure,” he did pretty well in this, too. The film itself is revolutionary with the life-like CGI and crazy philosophical ideals and definitely deserves a spot on the list.

4. Minority Report-2002

This Tom Cruise classic has some awesome, futuristic technology that isn’t very far into the future. There’s AR and VR, recognition software and good detective work! The precogs would be good to have this decade, especially for Cruise to know he’d leave Scientology, if the tabloid minority reports are true.

3.The Net-1995

Maybe one of the best female computer programmers in a movie predating Trinity (who kind of cheated in achieving her Master Hacker status, but that’s a whole other story). Sandra Bullock plays Angela Bennett, a programmer who gets caught up in a high-stake, fast-paced espionage heist. Cases of mistaken and stolen identity and floppy disks make you sit on the edge of your seat with anticipation and worry; can Bennett solve the mystery? Will she still be mistaken for a criminal? Who are Praetorians? And you have to love the movie’s tagline: “This summer, Sandra Bullock is caught… in the Net!”

2. WarGames-1983

So deliciously 80s, this movie brought us the thrills and dangers of computer-ing; it was early enough that people didn’t know what firewalls were, but at a time where hacking your GPA had been established aspiration of many teenage computer owners. Ally Sheedy plays an impressed Jennifer who is eager to watch computer boy-genius David (Matthew Broderick) play a modern Risk-like game that is actual thermonuclear warfare. Who wouldn’t want to get caught up in governing bodies and their vast array of nukes?

1. Weird Science-1985

This sexist version of the Frankenstein story is every nerdy high school boy’s dream come true. Gary Wallace (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt Donnelly (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) make their dream lady (including a C-cup, Einstein’s brain and Houdini’s magical powers) from Wyatt’s computer by hacking into the city’s power grid for an extra surge of electricity (which is totally thing). Lisa is created, much like Frankenstein’s monster, and learn that having the perfect woman or best party doesn’t make them popular, but their personalities do, and shouldn’t that be the message for all these computer movies?


Wacky Wednesday-Weird Early Robots

Where would the world be without Wall-E, R2-D2 or Rosie from The Jetsons? We’d be without those happy, helpful, futuristic companions of the future. But before KITT could save Hasselhoff again, we had some real robotic accomplices. Here is a list of our top 5 favorite robots and AI in the real world.

5. David Silver’s (at MIT) Silver Arm-1974

silver arm

The Silver Arm was used for small-parts assembly. Instead of using its powerful crushing capabilities that could destroy the microscopic mechanics, Silver Arm sensed feedback from delicate pressure and touch sensors. The arm corresponded human finger movements.

4. Marvin Minsky developed the Tentacle Arm-1968

tentacle arm

You’ve heard of the octopus, you’ve heard of the arm, combine them together for Minsky’s Tentacle Arm. The Arm had 12 joints to give it tentacle-like movements. A hydraulic fluid-powered PDP-6 computer controlled the Arm, and if you mounted it on a wall, it could lift a person.

3. MIT’s Automatically Programmed Tools project-1959


The Automatically Program Tools project was an early form of AI; it was a language used to instruct milling machine operations how to work. In a demonstration, the program built an ashtray for every attendee, just to show off how it good it was.

2. Rancho Arm-1963

rancho arm

The Rancho Arm was designed in Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Downey, Calif. The arm was as flexible as a human arm, thanks to its six joints. It is held as one of the first robotic arms to be controlled by a computer at Stanford.

1. Texas Instruments’ Speak & Spell-1978

speak n spel

Do you know how to speak? Do you know how to spell? If so, you probably have the Speak & Spell to thank. But besides being responsible for teaching many kids how to spell, the TI Speak & Spell was also the first electronic duplication of human voice tract on a single silicon chip. Pretty high tech for something used to spell out swear words by teenagers. f