Robocop Ran DOS

8 surprising tech cameos in Hollywood’s biggest sci-fi hits.

Stupid Movie Tech Moments

Virtually no sci-fi or action flick these days is complete without a computer scene showing a few screens of mysterious scrolling text and a 3D wire-frame model. But where does this vaguely tech-looking stuff come from? Well, more often than not, it comes from a Website, app, or startup screen from the real world at the time the movie was made. Read on for some of the most unexpected tech cameos in movies.

The Terminator (1984)

Robots coming from the future to kill Sarah Connor? Perfectly believable. That code on the left-hand side, however, is assembly code for an Apple II (originally from Nibble Magazine, apparently). Maybe the Terminator is booting up off of a 5.25-inch floppy.

(Photo credit: Dominick Wagner, by way of

Terminator 3 (2003)

In the second sequel appearing 19 years later, we see Kristanna Loken as the model T-X Terminator. Look closely at the left-hand side: "Remote Access," "Software Update," "Quicktime Player," and so on are all control panels from Mac OS 9. Would have made a great "I'm a Mac" ad.

Strike Back (2010)

This British spy-thriller miniseries has, like any good spy show, a nail-biting scene involving missile guidance systems. The code for this guidance system, though, comes from one of the JavaScript source code files for WordPress. The best part? The WordPress Lead Developer went and integrated the changes for the "guidance system" back into WordPress.

(Photo credit:

Stargate SG-1: Ark of Truth (2008)

The straight-to-DVD Stargate SG-1: Ark of Truth didn't break any sales records, but it certainly broke audiences' willing suspension of disbelief when it showed an advanced alien robot race...coding pop-ups in JavaScript. No wonder we can't get rid of those things.

Robocop (1987)

A devoted policeman is brought back to life thanks to a robot suit. I can't even imagine what kind of software it could be running--wait, is that COMMAND.COM in the upper-left corner? Yep, Robocop runs MS-DOS.

Gundam Wing (1995)

This mid-90s addition to the classic Japanese giant-robot cartoon Mobile Suit Gundam had phenomenal success in the United States on Cartoon Network. But clearly the animators hadn't anticipated a widespread American release--the text on the back of a scrolling medical readout is, in fact, the read-me file for Adobe Photoshop 6's TWAIN scanner drivers.

Doctor Who (2008)

One episode of this classic British sci-fi series sends Doctor Who 50,000 years into the future, where...they still have Apple keyboards, apparently. Maybe they were able to get a special AppleCare extension.

Goldeneye (1995)

You know, when you think of product placement in a James Bond movie, you think about his fancy watch or remote-control sports car. IBM's OS/2 Warp showed up on every computer in Goldeneye--even the burning ones.

That's all we've got for today. Need to scratch your movie tech itch? Check out The Empire Strikes Back Turns 30 and the 2010 Geek and Tech Summer Movie Preview.

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