Wired is running a fantastic article about the 25th anniversary of the movie WarGames, which is arguably one of the most influential movies of my generation and certainly the most influential within the Generation X technology clique.
As noted this interview conducted with me in the year 2000, I had a WarGames poster in my office for years (it is now relegated to the server room in my basement).
When you enter the office of Matthew Devost, one of the most visible monuments to his life’s work is — a poster. More specifically, it’s a poster advertising the 1980s movie War Games, a hacker classic in which a high school kid almost starts World War Three. Devost would admit to the hyperbole of that Cold War film, yet he has become one of the most articulate advocates for educating leaders and the public by the growing threats from cybercrime and information warfare. (Future Presence Interview)
Wired deconstructs the impact the film had dealing with the subjects of nuclear war and technology proliferation at a critical time within the Cold War.
It was the year Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire”; the year the United Nations implored the Russians to withdraw from Afghanistan; the year ABC aired The Day After, a TV movie about the wake of a nuclear attack on the US. In the midst of all this came WarGames, a fizzy little thriller about looming Armageddon. It’s a deceptively simple story: High schooler David Lightman (played by 21-year-old Matthew Broderick) is a digitally proficient goofball who wants to play an unreleased computer game — and impress a pretty girl (Ally Sheedy). So he does something most Americans didn’t have a word for back then: He starts hacking. Little does he know, the “computer company” he’s infiltrated is actually a military installation running a missile-command supercomputer called the WOPR (War Operation Plan Response), and the game — Global Thermonuclear War — is real. Naturally, only David can stop it from setting off World War III. (Wired)
Worth reading the entire thing. It will also be interesting to put this in context with Kevin Mitnick’s book when it is released. He has several quotes in the article discussing how the movie impacted his case including this one:
That movie had a significant effect on my treatment by the federal government. I was held in solitary confinement for nearly a year because a prosecutor told a judge that if I got near a phone, I could dial up Norad and launch a nuclear missile. I never hacked into Norad. And when the prosecutor said that, I laughed — in open court. I thought, “This guy just burned all his credibility.” But the court believed it. I think the movie convinced people that this stuff was real. They tried to make me into a fictional character.