October 25, 2010

1983 TV News Video: "WarGames Movie" Hacking Fears Interview

Greetings. Egads, it's time for the next installment from my archival video extraction project -- and an interesting item it is.

In the debut segment, 1983 Video: "Captain Crunch" and "Computer Hacking" (TV Interview), we saw an interview triggered by network TV news' fascination with the then recent Milwaukee "414s" penetrations of computers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Los Alamos National Lab.

Today we explore how a different television network in 1983, also using the "414s" story as a hook, explored the question of whether the scenario portrayed in the film WarGames -- coincidentally from that same year -- had any possible basis in fact.

As with 1980 Video: "Telefuture" - Everything Old is New Again!, I have sandwiched this new video segment with a pair of hopefully amusing, unrelated very short clips (not necessarily from the same year as the main interview) that were also recently extracted from my video archive -- including a remarkable bit of political insight (?) in the closing clip.

The "WarGames" interview features a designated computer expert who uses as "props" a TeleVideo computer and a modem near and dear to many of our hearts, the venerable 300 bps Hayes Smartmodem (raise your hand if you owned one!)

The computer and modem never really do much during the interview -- we don't even get to hear any Touch-Tone dialing.

While the guest correctly and firmly disassociates the reality of U.S. missile systems from the fantasy scenario of the WarGames film, he oddly glosses over the "wardialing" aspects of (then current) microcomputers and modems, and instead suggested that it was "simple" with this equipment to iterate through all possible nine-digit "social security number" passwords to break into computer systems.

Hmm. There are several comments I could make about that assertion, but let's just say that plowing through nine-digit numbers (assuming nothing stops you after a few incorrect attempts) still isn't much fun even at modern Internet speeds, much less over 300 bps dial-up modems. Like the lost Flying Dutchman, I fear that the particular TeleVideo system shown may have been dialing continuously since that interview was broadcast decades ago, still searching for its first "hit" -- oh the pain, the pain.

So without further ado:

1983: "WarGames Movie" Hacking Fears TV News Interview
[YouTube] (~6.5 minutes)


Posted by Lauren at October 25, 2010 10:12 PM | Permalink
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