Slideshow

Robocop Ran DOS: Stupid movie tech moments

8 surprising tech cameos in Hollywood’s biggest sci-fi hits.

  • The Terminator (1984) Robots coming from the future to kill Sarah Connor? Perfectly believable. That code on the left-hand side, however, is assembly code for an [[xref:http://www.pcworld.com/article/161620/the_apple_ii_gains_eternal_life_in_the_web_browser.html|Apple II]] (originally from [[xref:http://www.nibblemagazine.com/|Nibble Magazine]], apparently). Maybe the Terminator is booting up off of a 5.25-inch floppy. (Photo credit: Dominick Wagner, by way of [[xref:http://www.pagetable.com/?p=64|Pagetable.com]].)

  • Virtually no sci-fi or action flick these days is complete without a computer scene showing a few screens of mysterious scrolling text and a 3D wire-frame model. But where does this vaguely tech-looking stuff come from? Well, more often than not, it comes from a Website, app, or startup screen from the real world at the time the movie was made. Read on for some of the most unexpected tech cameos in movies.

  • Terminator 3 (2003) In the second sequel appearing 19 years later, we see Kristanna Loken as the model T-X Terminator. Look closely at the left-hand side: "Remote Access," "Software Update," "Quicktime Player," and so on are all control panels from Mac OS 9. Would have made a great "I'm a Mac" ad.

  • Strike Back (2010) This British spy-thriller miniseries has, like any good spy show, a nail-biting scene involving missile guidance systems. The code for this guidance system, though, comes from one of the JavaScript source code files for [[xref:http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/199170/wordpress_30_blogging_software_released.html|WordPress]]. The best part? The WordPress Lead Developer went and integrated the changes for the "guidance system" [[xref:http://core.trac.wordpress.org/changeset/15239|back into WordPress]]. (Photo credit: [[xref:http://www.viper007bond.com/2010/06/12/so-apparently-wordpress-can-guide-missiles/|Viper007Bond.com]])

  • Stargate SG-1: Ark of Truth (2008) The straight-to-DVD Stargate SG-1: Ark of Truth didn't break any sales records, but it certainly broke audiences' willing suspension of disbelief when it showed an advanced alien robot race...coding pop-ups in JavaScript. No wonder we can't get rid of those things.

  • Robocop (1987) A devoted policeman is brought back to life thanks to a robot suit. I can't even imagine what kind of software it could be running--wait, is that COMMAND.COM in the upper-left corner? Yep, Robocop runs [[xref:http://www.pcworld.com/article/143819/save_dos_the_ultimate_antidote_to_vistas_bloat.html|MS-DOS]].

  • Gundam Wing (1995) This mid-90s addition to the classic Japanese giant-robot cartoon [[xref:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_Suit_Gundam|Mobile Suit Gundam]] had phenomenal success in the United States on Cartoon Network. But clearly the animators hadn't anticipated a widespread American release--the text on the back of a scrolling medical readout is, in fact, the read-me file for Adobe Photoshop 6's TWAIN scanner drivers.

  • Doctor Who (2008) One episode of this classic British sci-fi series sends Doctor Who 50,000 years in the future, where...they still have Apple keyboards, apparently. Maybe they were able to get a special AppleCare extension.

  • Goldeneye (1995) You know, when you think of product placement in a James Bond movie, you think about his fancy watch or remote-control sports car. IBM's OS/2 Warp showed up on every computer in Goldeneye--even the burning ones. That's all we've got for today. Need to scratch your movie tech itch? Check out [[xref:http://www.pcworld.com/article/196473/the_empire_strikes_back_turns_30.html|The Empire Strikes Back Turns 30]] and the [[xref:http://www.pcworld.com/article/195392/2010_geek_and_tech_summer_movie_preview.html|2010 Geek and Tech Summer Movie Preview]].

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