It’s hard to believe, but there were no YouTube supercuts and mashups in the ‘90s. People may not have been able to see every instance of Deadwood’s “cocksucker” being uttered in rapid succession (great job, Internet, by the way), but they did have hackers. Or at least, they thought they would have them in the not too distant future; a future when people would get their information superhighways mailed to them once a month from America Online.
In a time before people spent most of their waking hours plugged into the Internet, directors had to imagine a way for hackers to do stuff with computers in a way that audiences would see and say “Hey! I think that fellow might be hacking!” And imagine they did.
Hold onto your SCSI ports, and behold the ‘90s Hacking Supercut, which teaches us what smartphone-deprived Luddites thought about people who knew their way around the mainframe. Notable highlights:
- Hackers in the future prefer virtual reality environments where they have to stick out their arms and vigorously wave them around for hours on end.
- Apple paid for Newton product placement. Talk about sunk costs.
- “A gigabyte of RAM should do the trick.” A very small trick.
- Atari made a wacky laptop that looked like a word processor deprived of native printing capabilities.
- Breaking into the system means monochromatic gibberish characters will dissolve, revealing brightly colored, useful data.
- “Hello, Newman.”
- Hackers can’t just read code; they need pictograms to orient them.
- That stopping-bullets stuff in The Matrix is still pretty cool; Johnny Mnemonic’s hacking visor, not so much.
- Phones used to need something called a “telephone cord.”
- Serif fonts and vomit-colored marble desktop backgrounds are the calling card of a master black hat hacker.
- Office Space may have the most realistic impression of how corporate data is leaked.