by Mark Nobes, chief editor
The video clip above features the original movie trailer. There is no doubt that this movie inspired tens of thousands of teenagers to get into online computing. Of course, it was basic stuff in those days, and the World Wide Web hadn't even been invented. But the idea of a young student armed with only a home computer (an IMSAI 8080) and a modem breaking into a military computer system was exciting in the 80s, and it's still pretty exciting today!
David Lightman (played by Matthew Broderick) is a high school student who thinks he has hacked into a video games company called Protovision. Cue the futuristic computer speech "Shall we play a game?", and the start of Thermo Nuclear War, which Lightman thinks is a game.
However, what he had actually hacked into was an artificial intelligence system that controls all of America's nuclear weapons! Lightman goes on to launch a humongous nuclear strike on the Soviets.
The movie went down well with the critics, and it is believed that over 95% of critics gave it a thumbs up. Of course, it was impossible for the plot to happen in real life, but I still love the film and I'm pretty sure that a computer and modem were on many a Christmas list back in 1983.
Although computer technology was still very much in its infancy in 1983, it's interesting that even back then, we have a film that questions the over reliance of technology, and it came at a time when the cold war was very much on people's minds.
MGM released a sequel (WarGames 2: The Dead Code) directly to DVD on July 29, 2008 (better late than never, I suppose!) along with the 25th Anniversary Edition DVD of WarGames.
The IMSAI 8080 microcomputer. No, you can't buy one of these from Amazon!