young computer whizz kid accidentally connects into a top secret
super-computer which has complete
control over the U.S. nuclear
while completing a data
recovery mission for his grades. It challenges him to a game between America and Russia, and
he innocently starts the countdown to World War 3. Can he convince
computer he wanted to play a game and not the real thing?
To impress his girlfriend, seventeen
year-old David Lightman hacks into the school computer and changes
their failed grades. Next he hacks into what he thinks is a
videogame company which allows him to play a game called `Global
Thermonuclear Warfare'. But unknown to him he has really accessed
the artificially intelligent strategy planning computer at NORAD
which now sets off a nuclear war alert. When Lightman breaks into
the WOPR, a range of "games" are listed in the menu, including
poker, chess and of course, global thermonuclear war.
David (Actor Matthew Broderick) in hacker
mode at his AMSAI 8080. For some reason the AMSAI logo is covered with a
piece of white paper through the film. Probably the IMS Associates did
not pay for the product placement. The funky big colored toggle switches
really looks good on film.
The dual 8-inch floppy drive is an IMSAI
FDC-2, the monitor is a 17-inch Electrohome, the keyboard is an IMSAI
IKB-1, and the 1200 baud modem (on top of the monitor) is a Cermetek
212A relabeled with the name "IMSAI". The acoustic coupler prop was
added for visual effect only.
The "IMSAI 212A" modem on top of the
monitor. David is going to break in to the schools main frame to change
Jennifer's grade in biology from C to A!
What is a modem without a acoustic coupler -
nothing! Probably going 300 bps at it's best. I think Acoustic couplers
was kind of outdated 1983 when this film was made. Probably someone
thought it would look good on film.
Breaking in to the WOPR (War Operation Plan
Response) this game menu pops up. "Global Thermonuclear War"
looks kind of tempting, doesn't it?
Professor Falcon had many nice gizmos, what
about this nice computer chess?
Note this advanced computer map. Character
based graphics plots out USA and Soviet union. Both countries are about
the same size. In reality Soviet union was about three times the area of
USA, but it would not look good on screen.
Good looking Jennifer (Actress Ally
Sheedy) posing with AMSAI 212A modem and the voice
There are many computer-based oddities (such
as NORAD coincidentally using the same voice synthesizer as David, the
speed with which the audio-coupler modem is able to make the calls (and
even manages to hang up the phone), the speed with which the computer
breaks the password by brute force, etc which passed much of the 1983
audience by, but which seem increasingly fanciful as time passes.
If you are interested in more computer based
triva about this movie, check this link:
The NORAD command center built for the movie
was the most expensive set ever constructed up to that time, built at
the cost of one million dollars. The producers were not allowed into the
actual NORAD command center, so they had to imagine what it was like. In
the DVD commentary, director
John Badham notes that
the actual NORAD command center isn't nearly as elaborate as the one in
the movie; he refers to the movie set as "NORAD's wet dream of itself."