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stormymonday_2011

When was computer hacking first depicted in Cinema ?

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I have been watching some of Michael Caine's old Harry Palmer films recently and I note that the Billion Dollar Brain directed by ken Russell contains a scene where Leo Newbegin portrayed by Karl Malden uses a set of punch cards to hack the Honeywell H-200 owned by the barmy villain,General Midwinter

http://www.criticalcommons.org/Members/nogorman/clips/BILLION_DOLLAR_BRAIN.mp4/view

This film was made in 1967 and looks to be a suprisingly accurate portrayal of how you could feed your own code into an existing program on such a machine. Certainly, some of the old timers where I have worked can recall doing emergency fixes to bugs in existing paper tape feeds to old systems just using a mechanical dibber so such an operation was clearly possible with the right physical access and know how.

The Billion Dollar Brain predates that other example of the hacking of the computer that ran the Turin traffic lights .carried out by Benny Hill as Professor Peach in the 1969 version of the Italian Job which incidentally also starred Micheal Caine. In that instance the hack was carried out by simply replacing the tape containing the original programs with a malware substitute something again which would be feasible with suitable access to a tape library though in that case it would be much harder to pre- prepare the payload without direct access to the original program

Does anyone know of any earlier examples ?

I am interested in potentially realistic portrayals of hacking rather than science fantasy films about dystopian computers etc such as Jean Luc-Godards Alphaville

 

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I remember watching wargames, at the time, he had some serious tech, I remember the phone you dropped into the modem, and how he dialed the whole town. Sparked an interest , i spent ages looking for something similar, never found it.

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IBM did lots of promoting of their computers in films during the 1950s/60s - usually the punch cards machines were shown to be important by how they could go comically wrong if someone entered the wrong card by mistake as opposed to being hacked.

One of the most famous scenes of this was in the Cary Grant / Doris Day film 'That Touch Of Mink' where Day causes mayhem in a firm by doing this very thing. That was 1962 I think.

Hacking only really came about in films once you could access computers remotely. Prior to that it was all about getting physical access and changing a tape or inserting a disc. I think Bond did that in that Bond film that finishes on an oil rig where he swap a magnetic cassette for a dummy one and sticks the good one in the leading lady's bikini bottom.

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15 minutes ago, The Knimbies who say No said:

Superman 3 had Pryor as a IT whizz.

 

Did Dr Strangelove involve hacking? Might just have been a communication problem instead.

No, those kind of films were all about seizing control of the telephones and radios - Strangelove took its such plot device from 'Seven Days In May' about a group of US military officers launching a coup.

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Wasn't there a 1951 Chinese film showing somebody defrauding another with a 6-bead abacus? Reckon that would be the earliest!

 

(or I might have just made that up :))

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26 minutes ago, happy_renting said:

Tron (mid 1980's) involved a teen hacking into a military system. So possibly the earliest film portrayal of a script kiddie.

 

Yup, that was 1982, just a year before Matthew Broderick played the part of a young hacker in the hacker-meets-cold-war movie "War Games".

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1 hour ago, The Masked Tulip said:

... those kind of films were all about seizing control of the telephones and radios -

So? They are after all information systems. Books like The Hacker Crackdown show that the pioneers of computer system manipulation started their careers by manipulation of the phone system.

In this respect we might consider The Sting (1973) to be a depiction of early hacking (the film is set in 1936) in that it features wire fraud.

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2 hours ago, The Knimbies who say No said:

Superman 3 had Pryor as a IT whizz.

That was quite funny, because the crime was clever and would have made for a great plot device in anything other than a superman film. Unfortunately for the film, it was a crime that Superman was supremely ill equipped to deal with.

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I (barely) remember watching the series Whiz Kids in the early-mid 80s with lots of depictions of unauthorised remote entry.  That inspired my own poor attempts at hacking -- difficult in those days as you had to pay someone for the gazillions of phone calls.  It was easier to do by the late 80s as someone else paid my phone bills...

I still hanker after a decent robot arm to swap over my 8" floppies for me.

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1 hour ago, Hail the Tripod said:

That was quite funny, because the crime was clever and would have made for a great plot device in anything other than a superman film. Unfortunately for the film, it was a crime that Superman was supremely ill equipped to deal with.

Using a computer to skim a fraction of a cent off everyone? The writers unwittingly gave some bod at Goldman Sachs an idea!

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10 hours ago, 200p said:

Not earlier, but notable.

Die Hard 4 = 2007

Sneakers = 1992

Yes, although in the nineties I think Sneakers would have been a bit ahead of it's time in predicting the extent to which everything would be connected to the internet. Not sure if it pre-dated that sh1te with Sandra Bullock which predicted identity theft but wrongly pointed the finger at some shadowy government type organisations rather than Nigerian Scammers.

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3 hours ago, Hail the Tripod said:

That was quite funny, because the crime was clever and would have made for a great plot device in anything other than a superman film. Unfortunately for the film, it was a crime that Superman was supremely ill equipped to deal with.

To be fair, his heat vision would have been handy for hacking IR links.

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In Forbidden Planet (1955), Dr Morbius gains his vast knowledge by accessing the Krell machine.

The Krell were no longer around to give him permission to do so, so tecniically that was unauthorised access.

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1 hour ago, happy_renting said:

In Forbidden Planet (1955), Dr Morbius gains his vast knowledge by accessing the Krell machine.

The Krell were no longer around to give him permission to do so, so tecniically that was unauthorised access.

Very good film. It's influenced so much sci-fi since.

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