Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Commentaries on this Media!

On the opacity of pre-graphical computer interfaces

by Critical Commons Manager

A character who has been imprisoned on an alien space ship for centuries claims to have learned to operate the ship's computer system used to transport passengers to and from the ship. But as usual, randomly flipping switches on the control panels of old IBM air defense computers leads to chaos and hilarity rather than the desired technological outcome. After dozens of IBM's SAGE systems were decommissioned and sold to prop suppliers in Los Angeles, the cinematic imaginary concocted a wide range of narrative motivations for characters to interact with room-sized computers.

Decommissioned IBM AN/FSQ-7 computers play the control panels of an alien space ship in Soap

The televisual convention of randomly flipping switches to control computers is taken to amusing extremes

from Soap S3E3 (1979)
Creator: Susan Harris
Distributor: ABC
Posted by Critical Commons Manager