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Modems in the Movies: the early years

Classic tech movie moments from the 80s and 90s

In 1980s movies, modems had the power to change high school grades, wreck laboratories, and even spark global nuclear conflict. Here are some classic and silly modem movie moments from a time before the technology caught on.

War Games (1983)

In the iconic geek movie War Games, a young Matthew Broderick plays David Lightman, a hacker who uses his modem to discover a backdoor into a classified defence network. Lightman soon realises that the military supercomputer he has infiltrated, which is programmed to predict possible outcomes of nuclear war, has confused reality with gameplay and that the simulation he has started could start World War III. Disaster is ultimately averted, and Broderick lives on to dial up further modem hijinks in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Electric Dreams (1984)

In this campy '80s techsploitation flick, young architect Miles buys a souped-up computer he knows nothing about. After a series of unfortunate events - including spilling champagne on the hardware- the computer gains self-awareness. Edgar, the PC, eventually develops human emotions, and puts its modem to use as it cancels its owner's credit cards and vies for the affections of his girlfriend.

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  1. Classic tech movie moments
  2. War Games
  3. Real Genius
  4. Ferris Bueller's Day Off


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