Retro Computers in movies

I grew up in the 80’s and some of my first memories that fascinated me was from movies like Wargames, Weird Science and Superman iii. All of them involved these supernerds

Then there were the video games movies like The Last Starfighter and Tron.

They all captured my imagination and sent me on a journey into I.T. and tech in general

Back in 1981 when I was 10 going on 11, there weren’t a lot of computers in real life. I’m sure that the bank might have had one but I don’t think that my school was keeping files on a old P.E.T. The first kids in my class that had computers were running a Apple IIe and a Commodore 64. Even then, all they did was game on them. They would slap in a floppy and play games.

My parents ended up buying me a TRS-80 Colour Computer 2 (known as the COCO-2) and I got a few games for it but then the upgrades started. I needed a tape drive so that I could record the programs that I was writing and that then turned into a floppy disk read/write. A big old 5 1/4″ one too.

To play or do anything, I had to write out all the code in BASIC which was and is a very basic programming language that is still used today. I would type in hundreds of lines of code and then type “>RUN” to execute it. We would get these Rainbow magazines where I would copy the code from. Sometimes I would try to modify it so that i could make my own games but that would result in mostly SYNTEX ERRORS. At night, I would read the magazine from cover to cover and try to look at the code to see what was going on. I spent hours reading those magazines and letting that information fill my brain cells.

Anyway, back to the point of this blog post. When I started seeing computers in movies, I started noticing the make and models the same way that some guys would look at cars.

There was the IMSAI 8080 in Wargames hooked up to an acoustic coupler which was connected to his 212A modem (ironically, the 212A modem uses cables to connect, not the coupler but you had to make it look cool). That was shown on a 17″ Electrohome monitor which is still a sweet little piece of hardware. If you can find any of those, you can flip them for pretty good money.

The Electrohome monitor stood out since it was a Canadian company.

Now Weird Science was another movie that caught my attention. It came out in 1985 and I can’t remember if I still had the COCO-2 then but I was definitely thinking about girls and this did have girls in it. The computer used in it was a Memotech MTX 512 which was really the start of the home IBM clone machine. I think that I ended up picking up a Pentium XT after that.


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