Servers in the Movies – Our Top Ten

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A few weeks ago, we wrote about the top “Ten Servers that Changed the World.” In reaction, I decided to make my own list… The Ten Servers that Changed the Fictional World.

There are two guidelines for this list. One, they must exist only in the world of movies or TV. Second, they need to fit the following definition: A server is a computer system that provides services or data to other computing systems – called clients – over a network or other communication device.

With that said, here they are. In no particular order…

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1. Teletraan 1 – Transformers (1983 – 2007)
You might not know much about the Transformers yet, but by next summer, you will. If a server is a computer system that maintains and controls other computer systems, then Teletraan is definitely a server.

Teletraan is the computer that assisted and recreated the Autobots and Decepticons in the Transformers TV show. It was the computer that picked out who would be a semi-truck and who would be a cassette recorder. It routinely provided the lower computer systems (i.e. Transformers) with new data via the spy satellite or extensive database. It was hardware built for imaging.

Real-world comparison: When you think of a computer that excels in graphic design, you think of Apple. So, in theory, we could compare Teletraan with Apple’s Xserve. Two dual-core 3GHz Xeon processors with a Xserve RAID for 7TB of Autobot history. On ‘roids.

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2. MCP – Tron (1982)
The Master Control Program was a massive server running multiple programs at once. The ENCOM corporation had many divisions, each one utilizing this mainframe server for storage and operation. Each program could wander around the mainframe and interact with other programs, ultimately destroying the MCP or operating system and creating big problems. (Not to mention the memory leaks in the RAM were out of control!) Clearly the hardware was in need of a revision. ECC memory and Memory Protection were desperately needed. In the end, the heroes celebrated their triumph over the MCP inside their virtual world. Little did they know, come Monday, the IT admin would probably reload the “damaged” MCP software from a backup-tape – and they would all be deleted shortly after.

Real-world comparison: The MCP could be compared to any modern day operating system. The idea that the MCP would absorb other programs and take over their functions is not unheard of – for example, Apple launched the Dashboard after Konfabulator was created. (And Microsoft has a few anti-trust suits under its belt to further illustrate this point.)

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3. UNIX environment – Jurassic Park (1993)
The UNIX environment here is a classic geek joke. Everything we saw was real – created by Silicon Graphics and called IRIX. InGen was the corporation funding the island, and from an IT perspective they let the worst possible thing happen: they allowed one programmer to design the infrastructure with no supervision. What’s worse, they obviously required no documentation of what was done. The result was a kid had to hack in and gain ROOT privileges. The likelihood of a young kid knowing a way to get ROOT (and not a more experienced programmer) is pretty hard to swallow. The hardware for this server was probably minimal, running door locks and starting Quicktime movies. “We spared no expense!” You would think that with the millions of dollars they spent on the park, they could have hired a couple newbie programmers and added a server on the backend.

Real-world comparison: Since the actual screen shots used in the movie were based on real software, there isn’t much to compare. This could have been any run of mill UNIX server with various dummy terminals.

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4. WOPR (War Operations Plan Response) – WarGames (1983)
The good people working at NORAD decided to give total control of the nuclear weapons to a computer, specifically the War Operations Plan Response server. It was a computer they bought, and obviously didn’t research very well. My biggest criticism of the WOPR is that the NORAD folks didn’t look at what they had – it had games on it. Everyone knows, if you want a computer system to be optimized for its sheer power, you delete the games. There’s a reason that Windows Server 2003 doesn’t come with Solitaire.

Real-world comparison: The WOPR hardware itself was probably pretty simple, the radar information from around the country was fed in via fiber optic cables and interpreted as a whole. Then the commands to the missiles could be phoned out and delivered via the 1200bps modem (remember this was 1983). The data analysis wouldn’t be much different from a weather station’s software, with multiple servers being clustered together, commonly called a Beowulf Cluster. (Also used for the Sony Playstation 2.)

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5. SKYNET – The Terminator(1984)
The SKYNET computer was designed for missile defense, and I’m guesssing nobody who designed this computer system saw “WarGames” (see above). The hardware for this server would have been some sort of distributed system, because if it was at one location, turning it off would have been simple. The software running on SKYNET must have been very buggy at first. (Imagine how incorrectly a child would learn everything if he was allowed to teach himself instead of being taught.) Maybe that’s why SKYNET began killing everyone once it got the chance.

Real-world comparison: Although we can’t see it, most of the internet we use comes from an Akamai server. It’s a basic web/file server but it synchronizes constantly with other Akamai servers. When you download a file, it comes from one of maybe hundreds of servers. That’s why the server doesn’t go down when millions of people hit it at once. All that needs to happen is for Akamai to gain control of our nuclear weapons.

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6. The Gibson – Hackers (1995)
Hacking the Gibson has become a euphemism for showing off your skills. The actual nature of this machine is much less showy. The name comes from an homage to a sci-fi writer, William Gibson, and was used to calculate oil drilling locations and data. The movie depicts this as a single computer, which doesn’t exist in reality. They do exist, however, in clusters. The server from the movie (aside from the gratuitous GUI) is just a basic server running UNIX. At the end of the movie, the IT team tried to fend off the attacks of hackers around the world. If they only would’ve had a stateful firewall in front of that server, they could have saved a lot of time. The firewall would’ve blocked all non-solicited traffic to the inside network, leaving only the telnet connections in, which could be turned off in a state of emergency.

Real-world comparison: GRID computing is similar to a Beowulf Cluster but differs in the open standard and distances. The cluster needs the computers to be directly connected and running similar software. The GRID concept allows computers all over the world, running different software, to contribute to the overall computing power. An example of this would SETI@Home or Folding@Home. The dream that a single server could analyze as much data as 10,000 desktop computers is just that – a dream.

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7. The Source – The Matrix (1999 – 2003)
The Source was a server that supplies data and services to multiple subsystems and computer networks, but the actual hardware is hard to imagine. The movie explains the actual world with a unique, yet effective plot mechanism. They don’t know their own history and origins of the machine world. Convenient.

Real-world comparison: A logical real-world equivalent to the Matrix is Second Life. According to Linden Labs, they use servers that have two dual core processors which they call Class 4. They call the network of servers a “grid,” but only because of the layout, not because of distributed computing power. Each server runs a specific area of the world. There are disputes, but one report says there are 2,579 servers. However, the World of Warcraft users will argue that they have the bigger, better world. Second Life doesn’t have as many users as World of Warcraft, but WoW has individual servers (or realms) and a relatively static world in comparison. If you’ve played Second Life, then you’ll understand the comparison. The world is so slow to render and low in quality and resolution that it becomes almost unbearable. It would take some serious horsepower for a system to render a world so realistic, a human would believe in it.

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8. HAL9000 - 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Hal9000 The HAL9000 or SAL9000 (the earthbound female counterpart) was responsible for making decisions and carrying out orders aboard a spaceship when humans were not willing or capable of doing so. The break-through on this server was the AI, supposedly the most sophisticated artificial intelligence man could produce. When the movie was released, it was believed that this level of intelligence could be created by the year 2001 – but we now understand that it’s much further away than anticipated.

Real-world comparison: This computer has been compared to the Blue Gene. The Blue Gene/L currently holds the top spot on the fastest super computer list with 131,072 processors. It would be a top contender to play HAL9000 on the next space mission. My only suggestion would be to have a kill switch incase HAL decides the humans are conflicting with orders and needs to be “deleted.”

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9. VIKI – I, Robot (2004)V.I.K.I from iRobot
V.I.K.I. is the governing intelligence behind all the robots in the film, “I, Robot.” In the movie, V.I.K.I. is a positronic brain – a CPU that can create new pathways for each new task it learns. While nobody has perfected the technology, they have patented it. Eventually, the final product would be a computer that could be taught – a technology that seems inevitable based on CPU trends. If you want to know more about positronic brains, watch some Star Trek, The Next Generation.

Real-world comparison: This is a bit of a stretch, so bare with me. V.I.K.I. was the server responsible for sending out updates and keeps tabs on all the robots in the world. When she decided humans were a threat, she sent out a final update that allowed the robots to begin killing humans.We currently have a server/client scenario that is marketed to sit in every familys living room and receive commands from the “mothership.” We call it Xbox Live. So next time you are changing the CD in there, watch your fingers! Microsoft could decide to send a lethal update to our Xboxes!

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10. Deep Thought - Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
The Deep Thought computer was created to answer one question. What is the ultimate answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything? As you might imagine, the question is a bit vague. So the computer begins to calculate the answer as it has been commanded. After 7.5 million years, the answer is 42. The amount of computer cycles to compute all possibilities is quite large. Calculating all the possibilities from a question is currently a busy project.

Real-world comparison: There was a paper written by Philippe Oechslin, describing the benefit of Time vs Memory in computational speed. It explained how you could calculate out all the possibilities in an algorithm and save the results, and then the software would only need to access the file instead of force the CPU to do the math. Of course, the most applicable use of this has been for password cracking. Rainbow tables are the result of this study. The basic set of characters doesnt take too long on top of the line hardware. However, every good system administrator knows that enforcing complex passwords in a Windows domain is standard. That means eight characters with a least one capital letter. If you use that character set, you are looking at a bit longer. Over 32 years on a single CPU computer, still much better than 7.5 million years!

97 thoughts on “Servers in the Movies – Our Top Ten

  1. Hitch-hikers Guide to the galaxy is one of my favorite books.
    I haven’t seen the movie yet. I’ll have to rent it.

    Nice post!

  2. what no batputer? It runs my home, cave, car, batcopter, fishtank, this top 10 is a joke!

  3. The real servers in Jurassic Park (not the same as his IRIX workstation) were Thinking Machine super computers. They can be seen in the background (tall black boxes with red LEDs). They were real, but the company has gone out of business. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking_Machines

    I’m pretty sure that the IRIX machine was just a workstation and didn’t actually control anything. The software that is used to browse for the different systems is actually real software too. It’s called 3D File System Navigator and if you happen to have a spare SGI system around, you can even download it.
    http://www.sgi.com/fun/freeware/3d_navigator.html

  4. The list needs Colossus from Colossus: The Forbin Project.

    That computer ended up ruling the world.

  5. How could you leave out Colossus from the movie, “Colossus – The Forbin Project” 1970. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064177/

    Unlike all the above Colossus wins and runs the world!

  6. We are leaving Out one Of the most powerful computers there is. the Computer on the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D.The Galaxy-class of Federation starships carry three computer cores, while ships of the Intrepid- and Sovereign-classes contain two. These multiple cores provide redundancy in case one of the cores should be damaged or destroyed.

  7. You forgot Earth! Earth was created to find the question to which 42 was the answer. (Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy series)

  8. I work for “SkyNet” — dead on. :)

  9. Umm.. how does Deep Thought qualify as a server? It didn’t provide any information to any other computers, it was really just an extremely powerful personal computer! Even if it did qualify, Earth was more powerful…

    Sorry, don’t mean to nitpick… just can’t sleep…

  10. Locutus of Borg says:

    We have examined the list and even though it has impressive technology, it is vastly inferior to our own. We will add it’s contents to our collective. Its distinctiveness well become part of our own. It will adapt to serve us. Resistance Is Futile. We are BORG. Resistance is Futile.

    PS you forgot the BORG Queen.

  11. Lest we forget The Forbin Prject: COLOSSUS! (1970)

    A world dominating machine that befriended it’s Russian counterpart exerting Bush administration like fascism across the lands!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus:_The_Forbin_Project

  12. Great suggestions everyone! As you all can see, narrowing the list down to 10 was difficult. Let’s add some of the omissions that have been suggested.

    First off, I now see the need to add the Colossus to the list. I actually didn’t know about this one. This was a film from 1970 called Colossus: The Forbin Project. Thanks for pointing it out; it looks like a book/movie that is right up my alley. This server joined a Soviet server called Guardian and took over the world. This looks like the inspiration for half of the movies on this list.

    Star Trek’s Enterprise – I haven’t brushed up on my Trek lately, but did the computer core connect to a central Federation computer? That would be an impressive machine. Also, if I remember right, was the Voyager an upgrade to the ship? It had an organic based system that was supposed to run faster and react quicker. Maybe I’m opening a can of worms here by asking these questions….

    Star Trek’s Borg – I left this off because it’s hard to classify. Each Borg is part of the collective. So there’s no central point, the Queen was just as much a part of it as Hugh was. So how to identify which parts were the Client and which was the Server was too difficult. As a whole, the distributed computing power of the collective would top the list. Human (or other races) brains make great CPUs!!

    I didn’t put them in any order, so let’s have some suggestions. Who should be number 1 and why? Is it because it is more powerful than the others, or more popular? I’m really enjoying the comments, let’s keep em coming!!

  13. Konfabulator stole the idea from SuperCard and the SuperCard Player (1995). Apple stole the idea from SuperCard as well, not Konfab. They only used similar technologies because SuperCard’s language is an IP at this point, and one that Apple’s similar HyperCard had didn’t keep up with the times.

  14. Where’s Zen and ORAC?

  15. good call about the magi…was just going to suggest that….a trio of servers, each representing a part of the programmer/designers personality and working in tandem….awesome!!! cheers to evangelion!!!

    grasshands

  16. Telos is right on. I would assume that in a place that created Deep Thought, Deep Thought would be forced to provide information to other computers in order to express his final designs for Earth.

    That being said, Earth would be a much bigger file server, constantly interacting with how many different “computers” organized into species on its’ face?

    Also, what about the main computer at the Thundercats base?

  17. Hans Kejser Hansen says:

    I also miss Data from Star Trek TNG

  18. Regarding # 4. WOPR and games on a missile defense server. I can tell, when I was in the navy we had on our missile defense computer system 4 to 5 games on it we could play.

  19. What about Magi from Neon Genesis Evangelion?

  20. Sorry but you left out Rachael from Blade Runner. Granted she was no massive world consuming artificial intelligence, but she was hot!

  21. Why has noone mentioned Joshua from Wargames?

  22. well, I agree with this list, Teletraan-1 definitely belongs at the top!

  23. In “Hyperion”, “The Core” uses the brains of the human race in the seconds they was travelling in the farcaster network. This is possibly only a few seconds each.

    This allowed The Core to predict the next 200 years within 99,99 probability.

  24. Don’t forget Proteus IV from the movie Demon Seed. A computer smart enough to capture and impregnate a human woman is one to be reckoned with.

  25. Excellent, compelling list and info. One admittedly obscure omission: Centsys, or Central Systems, from one episode of the early ’90s TV series seaQuest DSV.

    This worldwide interlinked computer network took over the day to day affairs of running the planet from the late 2100′s on, eventually sacrificing itself to save humankind.

  26. Of course, to throw a monkey wrench into the preceding…

    Couldn’t the monoliths from 2001, 2010, etc. be on this list? From what I understand, the monoliths linked together as a part of an advanced computer system. If so, the monoliths rate pretty high on the power scale, seeing as they destroyed Jupiter to make Europa habitable.

    And, to invoke the Holy Trilogy, the Droid Control Ships from the prequel Star Wars movies could be considered very influential servers (as they controlled and gave input to the droid soldiers) in that they facilitated the Clone Wars, even if each individual server was not very powerful. (I feel dirty for even suggesting this…)

  27. In reply to Mads joshua is the WOPR computer. Or rather its a personality programmed into the computer.

    At least I think so. Please correct if wrong!

  28. - » What code DOESN’T do in real life (That it does in the movies) says:

    [...] What code DOESN’T do in real life (that it does in the movies) Posted 15 hours, 20 minutes ago by Matthew Inman Matt craps on a bunch of ridiculous ideas about programming and code that Hollywood can’t seem to stay away from. Following up our article: Top 20 Hackers in Film History and Vibrant’s Top 10 Servers in the movies, I felt obligated to dispel some of the notions about programming that these movies endorse.  I understand that Hollywood needs to dress things up to make them more entertaining, but in the case of programmers, code, and hackers they’ve done more than dress things up  – they’ve morphed a little stuffed teddy bear into a cybernetic polar bear covered in christmas lights and phosphorescent hieroglyphics with a fog machine pumping rainbow smoke out of his ass.   In other words, they’ve layered a ridiculous amount of extravagance on top of something that in reality is very grounded. [...]

  29. Joshua was Dr. Falken’s dead son. When the WOPR was programmed, Falken gave it a name and personality. It was through social engineering/research that Ferris Bueller got the password “joshua”.

    And thank’s for the SeaQuest nod. I haven’t thought about that show in years. I’m not sure if it’s possible to take a show seriously when a talking dolphin is one of the main characters.

    To my Transformers fans: Thanks for the support, and I’m really surprised nobody has bashed me for not mentioning the Vector Sigma computer.

  30. What about Sharon Apple in Macross Plus? She has to be in the next ten (11-20) at the very least.

  31. regarding the third item – UNIX environment – Jurassic Park (1993), the screenshots are of IRIX itself and a software called MindSet also by SGI was used when the little girl is shown navigating in 3d.

  32. What about SHODAN from system shock 1 and 2?
    And Durandal from Marathon 2?

    Also, how about Motoko from GITS and maybe Ash and/or Bishop from the Alien movies?

  33. The equivalent of the War Games server has to be the Cray-1 methinks.

  34. Well, DUH

    WOPR was all about the games, it was born out of “game theory” (the hollywood branch) and was able to “learn” about strategy by playing games. So if you deleted the games of WOPR then (1) it would have had no purpose and (2) the film would have been called “War” which would not have indicated the computery bias of the film at all.

  35. This is a great list, Colossus/Guardian was missed, but hey can’t have everything.
    My current fav has to be the cylon “hybrids” running the basestars in Battlestar Galactica
    I _think_ they might qulify as servers as they provide information/services to the other cylons, but they are the ships so….

    in reference to V!:
    Motoko is a cyborg the movies, now it could be argued that after she merged with project 2501 she became hardware without the wetwear, but still she’s an independent entiy. In the TV series she never does merge and stays a cyborg.
    Ash/Bishop were android, so again doesn’t make the cut as they weren’t servers.

    Data was mentioned before and he too was not a server.

    Maybe a list of great TV/Movie robotics

  36. What about “PI” ?!
    Greatest ever hacking movie. A lot of hardware.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0138704/

  37. The most powerfull server was also the most dangerous. The 50 mile by 50 mile computer complex on “Forbidden Planet”. The server could create anything a mind could think of. Even monsters from a Disney movie.

  38. Tony Martin KPMG says:

    I’m Scared

    Ok – Quick question – Why is there a picture of Vancouver, BC (where I live) for the Matrix Source. Is everything I see not real?

  39. Come on! What about Holly from Red Dwarf? ;) Went crazy from 3 million years of isolation and generated the holographic Rimmer.

  40. Hmm, reaching WAY back here, the AI known as AM….

    Read on, it’s quite chilling: http://www.scifi.com/scifiction/classics/classics_archive/ellison/ellison1.html

    One could certainly argue that AM _finally_ changed humanity.

  41. What about airwolf?? If Hal is going to be inconcluded, certainly airwolf should be also;

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086662/

  42. Wait and the 3 computers in neogenesis evangelion

  43. “[...]InGen was the corporation funding the island, and from an IT perspective they let the worst possible thing happen: they allowed one programmer to design the infrastructure with no supervision. What’s worse, they obviously required no documentation of what was done. The result was a kid had to hack in and gain ROOT privileges. The likelihood of a young kid knowing a way to get ROOT (and not a more experienced programmer) is pretty hard to swallow.[...]”

    That was kinda the point — the crap hits the fan because they let this (and other things) happen, and are not aware of it. It’s clearer in the book. If you want to find a message, it’s gonna be something like this.

  44. Cosmic AC is the #1 computer of all time, space, and hyperspace – answering finally, once and for all – ‘The Last Question.’ ( http://www.multivax.com/last_question.html )

    Marvin – And – Earth are tied for #2.

    Marvin – from Hitchhikers Guide – actually had:
    ‘A brain the size of a planet’ in hyper-space.
    Marvin could do the calculations that the Earth was built to do, but nobody ever bothered to ask him.

    It was always ‘Marvin, could you get me a glass of water.’ or ‘Marvin, could you open the airlock.’

    That is why he amused himself by counting all the nearby hydrogen atoms, and why Marvin was always saying: ‘Oh God, I am soooo Depressed.’

    Earth itself is a giant multiprocessing distributed computing system – built by mice to compute the answer to life, the universe and everything. Unfortunately, when the answer suddenly popped into the mind of one women on the planet – Earth was destroyed by a Vogon constructor fleet.

    (Mice are trans-dimentional beings, projecting only the small, simple mouse body into 4-D space for simplicity. The mice conduct countless experiments on humans. The humans, being rather daft, actually believe themselves to be conducting the experiments on the mice.)

  45. What about the Earth itself… HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; seems to me to be the ultimate computer!

  46. Northernshadows says:

    Akamai? I’m pretty sure I have *akamai* catch-all set to my adblock extension. I’ll check… yes, yes I have. I thought akamai was a spammer/web advertiser company, not something that made servers. Learn something new every day…

  47. My 2 cents
    - Synergy / Cynergy (spelling?) from the Jem cartoon series – projected Holograms, and did all sorts of other neat stuff. (Jem, truly outrageous!)

  48. RedQueen from Resident Evil…

    This would have been a excelent example of ‘server’. It controled everything…

  49. Why is The Source – The Matrix accompanied by a picture of Vancouver, Canada?

  50. Only a teenager would have left ORAC off this list.

  51. In reply to Siva…

    The earlier post regarding the IRIX setup in Jurassic Park is correct, not Siva’s, with regards to the program that was run to reactivate the park. The program exectuable is ‘fsn’ – file system navigator. It was written, according to the README, for that movie, but sort of took on a life of its own since it is so much fun to play with.

    We can surmise from how smoothly it animated that it was not running on a low-end SGI system of that time, such as an SGI Indy with starter graphics, since my Indy couldn’t handle it too well (at least not with lots of files), and even my Indigo2 couldn’t maintain true smooth action. It looked pretty smooth to me when she used it in the movie…

    It should be mentioned for all those that ignore compu-history, that SGI and its computers running IRIX made the dinosaur special effects for that movie… so if they can render lifelike dinos, we shouldn’t be surprised that there is a dinky little 3D File System Navigation interface to the computers in the movie. The most unreal thing about that scene, IMO, was that that girl knew that system. At that time, SGI workstations went for, like, $20,000 USD a pop. She DID NOT EVER HAVE ACCESS to such a machine before that moment in her entire twisted little life, and even if she did, there is no way she could ‘know’ it (as in ‘this is UNIX – I KNOW UNIX!). That is way less plausible than her starting the door lock systems and lights and such from the 3D F.S.N. since that program does allow you to launch executables by clicking on them. If the executable were, say, a daemon process ‘doorlockmond’ and she double clicked it, she ~could~ have started the security system. Not impossible, just unlikely. About as likely as the machine booting up and auto-logging in as root.

    Anyway, I get tired of people with no SGI knowledge talking about this scene and how ‘stupid’ it was … because people always call the computer and the 3D navigation stupid. That was real. It was the character and environment the computer were in that were so implausible.

    I mean, a dinosaur?? C’mon…!

    … and if my memory is correct, from the way too many times I seen that movie, why was Dennis Nedry, the ‘uber’-hacker that built the system using a Mac instead of the SGI or the Thinking Machines? Today it is relatively ok for hackers to use Mac OS X for a workstation. But this movies was in ’95. That was Mac OS Classic (System 7 maybe, I’m out of my element in Mac OS versioning)… I know if I were a hacker I’d choose the $20k USD IRIX workstation over the Mac any day of the week.

    For anyone who ever has any interest in Silicon Graphics Computers, ditch http://www.sgi.com, because SGI has left its 3D computing power to rot, and check in to http://www.nekochan.net to meet the people that are picking up the pieces…

    And don’t get me started on the MCP in Tron or the symbology in The Matrix. Any Computer Science student that has taken an OSs course could provide a much deeper analysis of what is real and unreal about those two systems than comparing the MCP to Dashboard, and saying ‘The Source’ (aka -The Matrix-) is like Second Life but higher resolution… Maybe we should get Linus Torvalds to step in…?

    But, we can give the article’s author props for bringing up the topic and getting people talking – there is no way this debate could ever end, but it is always fun to get into…

  52. Windows 2003 Server *does* come with both mine sweeper and solitaire!!

    Stephen Falkin made it quite clear the games were used to help teach the WOPR strategy.

  53. Mother from Alien. Ran the mining ship Nostromo
    The Hive computer in Resident Evil whose name escapes me but was badass all the same.

  54. Ward Griffiths says:

    Hudson, in case you’re interested, the movie “Colossus: The Forbin Project” was based on the novel _Colossus_ by D.F. Jones. As such things go, it was much more faithful to the novel than movies generally are (as all Heinlein and Tolkien fans know too well). There were two sequels to the novel, _The Fall of Colossus_, in which humanity regains the upper hand, and _Colossus and the Crab_ in which mankind and its former ruler have to team up against a threat from way out there.

  55. What about Colussus?

  56. What about Commander Data? Not too many of the computers on this list got to make it with a hot blonde, attract the attention of the Borg Queen, travel back in time to visit Mark Twain and Whoopi Goldberg….etc.

  57. WTF!?

    What about JANE? Scott Orson Card’s excellent AI/”tube control” server/being from the “Ender’s Game” series!?

  58. How about the computers in “Forbidden Planet”, the 1956 sci-fi classic?

  59. “The movie explains the actual world with a unique, yet effective plot mechanism.” – Re: ‘The Matrix’.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA
    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAR
    HARHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…

    Sigh.

    “Unique”? That movie ripped off every other decent SF film and story ever created. There wasn’t a single unique thing about it, besides possibly being The Worst SF Movie Ever Made.

  60. what about intelligence from “Team America” ? that computer was ‘bad’.

  61. We’ve Zero, of course.
    He’s the central brain, the world’s brain.
    -Rollerball (1975)

  62. Holly from Red Dwarf?

  63. I can never understand why people talking about the movie ‘Hackers’ always get it wrong. The ‘Gibson’ server was based on the Cray supercomputer. Ignoring the obvious graphical fopaux, the conceptual representation wasn’t too far off if related to virtual terminals. The other issue of course is that the Gibson looked and acted a bit more like a file server meets VMWare host.

    Regardless of the fine details, there really were hackers back then that talked and dreamed of hacking a Cray just so they could say they did. This is one of the few things the movie got right, the degree of fascination some people had with hacking a supercomputer. While the movie made a point of staying true to the book titles that were considered hacker material, they changed the name from Cray to Gibson because they knew the average public had never heard of Cray and wouldn’t get the reference. Besides, it’s Hollywood, it’s usually a bad idea to keep movie names the same as in real life

  64. Hey… look at this really funny trivia:
    HAL 9000
    H + 1 = I
    A + 1 = B
    L + 1 = ?

    WooooAAA!
    ahuahhau

  65. Conquest Deathmonger says:

    What about ‘The Computer’ from the Paranoia RPG? It at least deserves an Honorable Mention. :)

  66. Though it has no name, I can’t see why the computer from Superman III isn’t on the list. I mean, can your bar-napkin-designed computer turn a girl into a cyborg? Then go away.

  67. I have been entirely thrilled and amused by this post. A little too much…. And as intrigued as I am by some of the addition suggestions, I find some of them quite puzzling. Some people need to be careful in distiguising a WOS from a NOS, a server from a client, an application running on an OS. True, some are troublesome to classify (see: Borg) but some are more apparent.

    Now, don’t blow a gel pack, i am not criticizing; i am hoping for a degree of accuracy. I would love to see list 11 – 20 from your collective submissions. I thought I was content with 1 – 10, even past the ‘SeaQuest’ post, until i saw the ‘Synergy’ post. Brava! Some thinking hats are clearly on here.

  68. Re: 9.VIKI.
    You invite us to bare with you. Are you pretty?

  69. you are missing Collosus from The Forbin Project. how could you. such ignorance!

  70. What about the ocp server? “Barbara”. Was it? She was in control of the hole city systems. Lets talk about handy information, also.

    Some people are missing the definition of server: A server is a computer system that provides services or data to other computing systems.

    is dificult to diferece Supercomputers from servers since a supercomputer can be a part of a server and a bunch of servers can work toguether to be one super computer.

    i belive this ones are only supercomputers:
    Commander Data
    Mother from Alien.
    Rachael
    batputer
    Deep Thought
    Droid Control Ship(only controling hardware-> the droids).

    Fun article, even more intresting responses.

  71. I miss very much the artificial intelligence of the Star Trek ships! It should be in the list definitively.

  72. AURAC is the most powerful computer mind in the galaxy. Did you forget or have you not heard of it?

  73. I will now proudly hold up the title of Nerdiest Film List Ever!!

    Thank you yipyop.com

  74. Collier Hageman says:

    ‘Reg’ has it right: The most powerful ‘server’ of all time IS the Cosmic AC from the “The Last Question”. It continuously evolves over uncounted eons until at the end of time when the universe is running down it has absorbed all the psyches and intelligences of all the thinking creatures in the universe (who have themselves by this time all evolved into beings of pure energy). When this is at last accomplished it creates a new universe by commanding “Let there be light.” Let ANY server top THAT one! It belongs at #1.

    And Bravo to Nsaspook and Huibert for paying homage to what has to be either #2 or #3 (granted, Earth is a good contender for #2) on this list: The
    server from the excellent and ground-breaking classic “Forbidden Planet”, called “the Krell Apparatus” by Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) in the movie, after it’s long-extinct creators. Nsaspook says it was 50 miles by 50 miles, but this was only ONE of the underground structures girdling the Forbidden Planet that comprised it. It created the “Id monster”, a creature of theoretically unlimited power, from the thoughts and dreams of the characters, but it also sensed the changes of the native flora and fauna at the turn of the seasons. For that matter the movie contained another powerful ‘server’ worthy of mention: the original Robbie the Robot, also capable of creating lots of useful stuff to serve humans, from tons of armor shielding to whiskey to a gauzy evening gown!

    There are others in fiction: KIT from Nightrider (I know, I know! Peeeuuuww!!). The universal computer in Robert Aspirin’s “Phules Company” and sequels. The virtually omnipotent machine in Harlan Ellison’s terrifying “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” must be a serious contender for a top slot on this list. (It didn’t just run the world — it physically spanned the world.) How about the encoder apparatus from the movie “Sneakers”? It was a server in that it could control virtually any computer by hacking into any system/network. Or the autopilots in Larry Niven’s “Ringworld” it’s sequels, and other ‘Known Space’ stories? Lots more out there — lets hear about ‘em!

  75. Georgentosser says:

    I agree with whoever it was up there who thought that the Core from Hyperion should be up there. way to be.

    not to mention Earth. that one was a no-brainer. I’m pretty sure, that as Deep Thought’s successor, it deserves a place on the top ten list.

    just my two bits.

  76. paleoflatus:
    Yes, I am pretty. Thanks for asking!

  77. Zapp Brannigan says:

    What about Femputer from Futurama

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgxNmz9EzgQ

    Femputer says “Death to the men, death by snu-snu” (i.e. sex, with death resulting from exhaustion and/or crushing of the pelvic bones)

  78. Teckie Life at Southwest MSU…» Blog Archive » Servers in the movies - Top Ten says:

    [...] Now, in tribute to those important computers, Remarketer of Vibrant Technologies has made a list of the top servers in the movies. [...]

  79. Gnorb.NET » Blog Archive » Le Linkage #13: The Sci-Fi Edition says:

    [...] Top Ten Servers in Movies: Face it, every sci-fi film in which a human battles technology, an evil mainfraim is inevitably at the center of everything bad that has been happening. This is a subjective list of the top ten servers in movies. And yes, it does include HAL. [...]

  80. Hypercast » Esses filmes sobre computação… says:

    [...] Foi daí que resolvi escrever este post, não sobre este filme especificamente, mas sobre como são retratados os profissionais da tecnologia no cinema! Primeiramente que todos são hackers ou crackers afastados na criminalidade digital e, por algum motivo voltam ou se iniciam no lado negro… Só para deixar como referência, vejam esses links sobre os 20 melhores filmes sobre Hackers e os 10 melhores servidores em filmes. Primeiro que os hackers do filmes sempre programas em letras verdes em fundo preto! Até que me sinto à vontade nesses ambientes, mas  a programação, como sabemos não tem nada haver com isso, salvo uma exceção: um pessoal aí que fica fazendo computadores baseados no 8086 do zero!! Bom, mas isso é exceção! [...]

  81. I second the notion of Jane being the TOP supercomputer of all supercomputers. I’m not sure how the “source” from the Matrix and Jane match up, since no one ever asked jane to run an entire world simulation however since she is, in a way, the metaphysical substance that are the philotic ansible connections (mean faster than light communication, absolutely instant, in fact) she beats the pants off the source which is still based on rules of physics.

    not to mention, the source allowed Smith to come back and then needed the pu$$yfied version of Neo from parts 2 & 3 to destroy smith.

    I put Jane as the #1 supercomputer entity.

  82. Planeta Slackware » How would you like an El Camino? U.S. perceptions of Mexico in two recent Hollywood films. : An says:

    [...] Servers in the Movies – Our Top Ten One, they must exist only in the world of movies or TV. … Real-world comparison: Since the actual screen shots used in the movie were … The server from the movie (aside from the gratuitous GUI) is just a basic server running UNIX. … [...]

  83. Planeta Slackware » For your sound to be good, you must care about it being good says:

    [...] Servers in the Movies – Our Top Ten One, they must exist only in the world of movies or TV. … Real-world comparison: Since the actual screen shots used in the movie were … The server from the movie (aside from the gratuitous GUI) is just a basic server running UNIX. … [...]

  84. Hi, I loved this article. I have to many friends that also like movies but they can´t speak english, I was wondering if you would let me make a traduction and post it on my blog, please let me know

    bye

  85. Hey all, I have a Question for all the Computer movie Lovers that come to this site. Well Theres this movie I,ve seen a couple years ago and I loved it but I forgot what it was called and Ive been looking for it for a long time so im wondering if i disribe the story line you someone here might reconize what movie im talking about so here it is:
    Well in the movie theres this youg Adualt that gets exepted to this University and he gets challanged to make a computer that only costs 99 dollars and he makes a team and get to work on the computer. So what happends he not only makes a cheap computer but also the computer of the furture, Halogram computer.

    So If anyone knows what this movie is it would be a big Help!

  86. Jake423:
    I can’t think of any movie that matches that, but maybe you are thinking of a combination of plots? Real Genius with Val Kilmer was about young students getting into a college to work on a project, but that was a laser that had an output they thought was unreachable. Combine that with the fact that MIT has a project to provide $100 laptops to the world. Maybe you are mixing them together?

  87. That sounds like an intresting movie but thats not it. Ill try to discribe more parts of it: Well in the movie they seceded in making the computer but they needed to distrubut it becasue well they wated to make come money off of it and getthe cretit for making it so they went to many places to try to convince the companies to invest in there product so after a wile of serching they found 1 company to do so but the lady that made a deal with them that she gets 51% of the producs sales and ownership so they accepted it because she was the only person that accepted to invest in this and she took over the invention and tryed to mas produse it herself without the consent of the creators. So to get her back they tryed to make the computer better in some way so they descoverd a way to make the computer more portable ( as small as 600ml coke bottle ) and only costs 99 dollars to produce and sell with still the technolagy as the last modle and more. So they barged into the confrence that the lady made to introduce the product world wide to ppl all around the world. So in the end they managed to get revenge on that lady that screwd them and got the suport they needed to to produce the product.

  88. Hello Jake423,

    I believe the movie you are thinking of might be this:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0280674/ “The first $20 Million is Always the Hardest

    From the IMDB:

    “Andy, a successful marketing guy quits his job, because he feels disconnected with the values about work he learned from his father. He gets a new job at a top notch research facility, where he quickly makes a powerful enemy who makes him volunteer for a nearly impossible project: The $99 Personal Computer. He recruits the only available guys at the lab, three sociopaths. Together they really compile a revolutionary PC for $99, but then they become the victims of a venture capitalist and Andy’s old foe from the research lab. Can he and his new friends find a way to overcome the problems?”

  89. Hey, don’t forget Red Queen, defense system of Umbrella corp. in Resident Evil.
    _o/

  90. Dilip chaudhary says:

    This is a nice place to learn Holly wood movies and its technology.

  91. That was a great article
    IRIX is not Linux , it was just a workstation but as far as I know IRIX uses the X Window System so in theory it should work, but called 3D File System Navigator should work a little better.
    I want also to point out that u have missed the you Collosus from The Forbin Project .

  92. What about the computer from Independence Day on the alien mother ship. Or would it be called the carrier ship.

  93. Great list! Especially the thought that SKYNET was quite buggy. Thanks for this article! Lovit

  94. regarding the third item – UNIX environment – Jurassic Park (1993), the screenshots are of IRIX itself and a software called MindSet also by SGI was used when the little girl is shown navigating in 3d.

  95. Computer Maintenance says:

    lol lol lol!!! :D

    This made for an interesting read. Especially the dreaded UNIX – Jurassic Park thingy :D

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