"War Games" IMSAI 8080 - Computerphile - nzwargamer.net

“War Games” IMSAI 8080 – Computerphile

Computerphile
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A teenager in his bedroom playing Global Thermonuclear War ‘online’ via his IMSAI 8080 in the classic movie War Games – Jason from the Centre for Computing History shows us their IMSAI 8080

N.B. To clarify, both Jason and Sean have seen War Games. At the time of filming neither had seen the film “Ready Player One”, which was not yet released.

(War Games features in the Ernest Cline book “Ready Player One” – whether it survives the transfer to the big screen remains to be seen)

Computer that Changed Everything:
Atari VCS 2600: Coming Soon

This video was filmed and edited by Sean Riley.

Computer Science at the University of Nottingham:

Computerphile is a sister project to Brady Haran’s Numberphile. More at

25 Comments

  1. 4:23 It's K9! The body's different, but that head is definitely K9! Clever illustration.

  2. It would be good to see one of these machines with a terminal connected because until he talked about it, I assumed that they must have done everything via the switches.

  3. The IMSAI 8080 would have been nearly 10 years old by 1983, so it’s plausible that David Lightman would have acquired a hand-me-down from an older geek friend, or bought it used.

  4. So what did the backplane do? How did it connect the 100 connectors per card to the connectors on the other cards?

  5. After watching war games for the first time I went home and tried to hack my c64… 2 years later I got my first modem and was totally blown away about the fact that I was sitting there on the living room floor with my beloved computer that was communicating with another computer located far away across the country.

  6. About the speaking computer: Anyone remember Dr. Sbaitso, by Creative Labs? Used to have fun with that on msdos asking it maths questions with very high number outcomes. "Eight octillion, seventy-two septillion…" etc. Lol

  7. I was looking at a 1983 computer magazine today which had an ad for speech synthesizers for as low as $149. This was the same year War Games came out, so it was certainly possible to have one. My grandfather bought a TI 99 4/A in 1984 after they were discontinued (and thus had a huge price drop). It included a hardware speech synthesizer which was used by a lot of games.

  8. I feel like watching War Games again. Miss all the fun stuff that happened
    during that era. Does anyone remember phone phreaking?

  9. lurch/wobble/zoom, sorry, but that camera work makes me ill

  10. I'm curious about the 404 error on the wall in the background. Is that a joke for use when a display has gone missing?

  11. 3:14 Well, considering that the movie was released in '83 and the IMSAI 8080 first came out in '78, that means that it was a 5 year old computer. That doesnt seem too unreasonable to me. 5 year old computers, especially used ones, are pretty inexpensive, especially when talking about what is basically a clone of the Altair.

  12. " Malvin: I can't believe it, Jim. That girl's standing over there listening and you're telling him about our back doors?
    Jim Sting: [yelling] Mister Potato Head! Mister Potato Head! Back doors are not secrets!
    Malvin: Yeah, but Jim, you're giving away all our best tricks! "

  13. I believe the computer generated speech in Wargames was produced by a TMS5220 chip (the same chip used in the Gauntlet arcade game).

  14. When I saw the movie, I thought that box was the modem or an I/O controller, the way he did a basic sequenced power on on the switches.

  15. 4:23 OH WOW! YouTube constantly triggers ancient memories in my brain, which is one reason I love it. I remember that specific page of that specific magazine so clearly. Now that I look at the illustration, it strikes me that there are two cultural references going on there, both of which are very dated now, to different degrees. I wonder how many younger people looked at it and missed them completely? 🙂

  16. Had the Altair. Purchased from a former Mits employee. It ran CPM, wordstar, etc. It had 4 eight inch disc, terminal. I had it hooked up to a huge DEC printer. I wish I still had it.

  17. I've made many detailed videos about the IMSAI on my channel IMSAIGUY. It even talks!

  18. The voice of Joshua was John woods voice. The director had him speak each word of a line reading them in backwards order. Then they cut and spliced them in correct order, and added an effect to it.

  19. I wish I could find one of these even gutted.

    Even switches for the IMSAI are outrageous.

  20. I own one of these. I lusted after them in the pages of BYTE magazine in high school and it was my computer in Assembly Language class in college. Of course I did my programming homework in my dorm room on a TRS-80 and transferred it over to the IMSAI, but it was a beautiful thing. A year later the CS department did a deal with the devil IBM and replaced all the IMSAIs, Cromemcos etc with boring IBM PCs. They sold all the IMSAIs for surplus. I bought mine for $25, so David Lightman could have easily afforded this stuff. It's been a very long time now and I haven't booted the IMSAI since 2004. The caps are no doubt toast by now, so I'll need to replace them to get it going again along with my Amiga 1000 and Atari 800. The TRS80 I sold to buy a ring. It was 1981.

  21. lordinateur imsai 8080 pour war game movie cool

  22. That movie must have gotten Apple pissed because the kid didn’t have an Apple II.
    Almost every computer appearing in movies since then is from Apple.

  23. In 1983 the unassembled parts kit IMSAI8080 was $699 and the fully assembled was $931 which adjusted for inflation in 2020 is $1608 and $2,396 respectively.

    It was very much a luxury item as the minimum wage was a meager $3.35 an hour

  24. the first ad I sw for IMSAI was PE in 76. at that time I was using IBM System 3 MOD 10 while the match depart had HP 2000 C. it was insane what we were doing on these machines using 2.2MB disk drive and 32KB of memory. We programed in BAL, Fortan, COBOL lvl 1 and RPG II. The HP had 10MB packs and 64KB. with 32 user and programed in BASIC. While we talked about having computers on our desk with as much power as IBM 370 and disk driver the size of credit card. We dream of GB of drive and MB of memory. by 79 TI had the TI-990 with 1MB memory and 200MG drives. By 89 they were 32MB memory and 200MB 1" by 5.25" running at 1GH. the system 3 ran At 1MH. Try writing a program in 16K to print PI to endless number of places. to print on 132 Column line printer. we got 6 pages after letting it run for a week.

  25. So in the future when you guys quit sending data to other planets and grow up the data will go through the electric plug so frequency doesn't hurt the immune system of the planet brain frequency animal frequency plant frequency it's a living process

  26. I'm only three years late for this video. That's actually pretty good for me.
    Not first!

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