What All The Fancy Code In Movie Computer Sequences Actually Mean

What all the fancy code in movie computer sequences actually mean

Hey look, it's an actor looking at some computer code in a movie. He must be really smart! He must be a computer hacker! He must be able to take over the world with just his keyboard! Not quite. The code used in movies is usually nothing but some mumbo jumbo on WordPress or Wikipedia. No, seriously. That image above showing The Doctor looking at code is a SVG file of a light wave taken from Wikipedia.

It's great. John Graham-Cumming is collecting screen shots of computer code from movies and TV shows on the tumblr Movie Code and explaining what the actors are really looking at. Just because it's filled with symbols and indentations doesn't mean it's that technical (even if code is always technical).

Below is scenes from Terminator (he's looking at 6502 assembly language of an Apple II) and Elysium (code that is taken from Intel Architecture Software Developer's Manual Volume 3: System Development). Hilarious. You can see more code in movies here.

What all the fancy code in movie computer sequences actually mean
What all the fancy code in movie computer sequences actually mean


    I love it when they're doing complex mathematics with HTML.

      And then they always seem to be able to track people to precise locations by IP address immediately, because each computer seems to have the same IP address all the time, even when they're in different internet cafés or wireless networks. Can't imagine that happening if they're using a dynamic IP address via an ISP. Or can they?....... Do I need to look over my shoulder more??? :-)

    It's the code version of lorem ipsum

    Someone needs to tell these people when they are calculating complex maths equations or doing some fancy facial recognition, or making a security camera image super detailed that by not making the CPU process stupid 'calculating sounds' in the background the task would be done a lot faster.

    So the terminator is running assembly language. How is that a problem? From what I understand, it actually makes some sense in relation to tracking/location.

    In uni, one of the lecturer's actually brought this up as we had a task using 6502 assembly language (apparently it's really easy to emulate a 6502 processor). He said the code passing by looked somewhat legit.

      Curious that the article says it's from an Apple II as well, when 6502 was much more widely known for its use in the C64. The company that created it was even bought out by Commodore shortly after it was released.

        The 6502 was used in the VIC-20; the C64 actually used a 6510 (which was VERY similar.)

        I assume the VTOC reference in the code is something largely specific to the Apple II. A quick google shows it's the disc-based Volume Table of Contents, but a similar search for C64+VTOC comes up with no similar reference.

        Almost all popular 8-bit computers of the time used a 6502 or Z80. The Z80 had a much more complex instruction set (including several pseudo-16-bit registers, made by pairing 8-bit registers) but the individual instructions took longer to run.

          True, but the 6510 used the same assembly language as the 6502, except it had a small set of extra features. And the C64 was current when Terminator was in production, whereas the Apple II hadn't been sold for a few years by that point.

        Zombie Jesus, because Apple invented everything, Ashton Kutcher told me so.

        Last edited 07/01/14 4:22 pm

          Well Ashton Kutcher would know, he invented inventing.

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