From the silent movie classic Metropolis to sci-fi hits like The Matrix, famous movie computers have played significant roles on the silver screen. Indeed, computers are so prominent in movies any science fiction fan have their own favorites. However, except for a chosen few, one could easily miss someone’s favorite. As a result, any list can become a source of criticism. Nevertheless, here is an attempt to pay homage to more than just 10 of the best. And with it is an incomplete and growing guide to the most famous movie computers and their names.
An Incomplete List Of Famous Movie Computers & Computer Names
Colossus – The Forbin Project (1970)
Designed to manage America’s nuclear defense system, the supercomputer Colossus develops its own intelligence. In doing so, it’s able to link up with “Guardian”, Russia’s own supercomputer. The name of the computer? Colossus. “Colossus – the Forbin Project” is considered the “granddaddy of all famous movie computers run amok films”.
Dark Star Computer (1974)
This 1974 sci-fi comedy following the misadventure of four shaggy haired astronauts was John Carpenter’s directorial debut. Clearly a low budget affair, Dark Star is known for its famous movie computer malfunctions. Indeed, the computer causes a triggering device whose name is “bomb 20” to commence a countdown to detonate. During a conversation with crewmember Pinpack, bomb 20 believe its exists. In doing so he says “hmmm, well I think, therefore I am”.
Deep Thought – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
Based upon the fictional computer from the popular radio and television series whose name is Deep Thought. It was built to calculate the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. After 7.5 million years of calculations, Deep Thought’s answer is 42. On the other hand, it professes it really doesn’t know the answer. Instead it offers to help design yet another famous movie computer. Indeed, this one is capable of answering the ultimate question. Deep Thought is easily among the most famous computer names.
Computers play a backup role in this 2013 sci-fi movie starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. The crew’s mission was to contain floating debris that had damaged orbiting satellites. Thankfully, three computers in an international agreement help save the day. In fact, the computers are from the International Space Station, Russian Soyuz spacecraft and Tiangong Chinese space station.
HAL 9000 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Among the greatest film villains of all time, the HAL 9000 is among Hollywood’s most famous computers. While in full command of the spaceship, HAL enjoyed working with humans. But then Hal is blamed for an error. HAL kills everyone on board except Dr. Bowman. Eventually, Bowman utters the famous quote – “open the pod bays HAL”.
2010: The Year We Make Contact
Subsequently, the film 2010: The Year We Make Contact attempts to explain everything. HAL is revived and finally understands what had actually happened to him.
Jarvis – Iron Man (2008)
The Iron Man movie series replaces Tony Stark’s butler, Edwin Jarvis from the comic book series, with a supercomputer who speaks with a British accent. Furthermore, it’s one of the more recognizable computer names – J.A.R.V.I.S. It serves as a personal assistant, controls all home electronics, helps design and operate Iron Mask’s suits. If that’s not enough, it also offers expert advice on how to beat evil villains.
Master Control Program (MCP) Tron (1982)
MCP was the primary villain in the 1982 Disney movie Tron. The science fiction flicked starred Jeff Bridges as a video arcade owner/hacker. Slightly resembling Jabba the Hutt was MCP. It was able to control the digital environment within the computers’ mainframe. Intent on world domination, MCP forces programs to compete on “lightcycles” in cyberspace. MCP appears again as a famous movie computer in the remake of Tron
MU-TH-UR 6000 – Alien (1979)
MU-TH-UR 6000 aka Mother, was the powerful sci-fi computer name of the Nostromo in the 1979 sci-fi classic Alien. After intercepting a distress from a nearby planetoid Acheron, Nosotomo sets out to investigate the signal source. Mother receives Special Order 937 from headquarters. The order is a Priority One directive. To illustrate, it will “insure return of organism for analysis. All other considerations secondary. Crew expendable”.
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The Net (1995)
A year after starring as an unwilling bus driver in the 1994 hit Speed, Sandra Bullock portrayed a cyber security specialist in The Net. She’s given a floppy disk containing a powerful program known as “Gatekeeper” – capable of accessing national defense systems. Bullock’s character becomes a victim of identify theft. Thankfully, she exposes the criminals by using their own computer while at MacWorld San Francisco.
LCARS Computer – Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
The Federation’s main computer on the starship Enterprise controls all onboard operations. The Federation uses cutting edge operating systems like LCARS (Library Computer Access/Retrieval System). In fact, the computer is so sophisticated it can power everything onboard. For example – teleportation and launching torpedo tubes to protective force fields. Furthermore, the computer’s maximum warp speed enables the Enterprise to “go where no man has gone before”.
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Powerbook 5300 – Independence Day (1996)
The 1996 film Independence Day was one of the most highly anticipated films that year. In fact, it became the highest grossing film of the year. Despite wreaking havoc and nearly taking control of the entire planet, the squid-like aliens were eventually defeated. This was because of the now famous computer virus created by David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum). Sitting next to him was his co-star Will Smith.
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Logan’s Run Computer – Logan’s Run (1976)
In this post-apocalyptic world, humans live in a domed city controlled by a computer. When residents reach the age of 30, they must participate in a cult-like ceremony to be “renewed”. Logan, portrayed by Michael York discovers his own termination date. Consequently, he sets out to search for “Sanctuary”. When Logan finally confronts the computer, he says there is no sanctuary. As a result, the computer is confused, causing it overload and explode.
Memotech MTX512 – Weird Science (1985)
Two high school computer nerds develop a program on a Memotech MTX512. This program was built to create a perfect woman in this 1980s sci-fi comedy. After infiltrating a government security system and a lightning strike, one of the more famous movie computers creates a woman. That woman was Kelly LeBrock, an actress that most guys can only dream of.
Red Queen – Resident Evil (2002)
The Red Queen, was famous movie computer name in the 2002 movie Resident Evil. It was a holographic image inspired by the daughter of the head programmer working for the totalitarian Umbrella Corporation. Designed to oversee the secret underground laboratory “The Hive”, The Red Queen’s main purpose was to protect assets of the Umbrella and its employees. When a lab created virus breaks out, the Red Queen tries to kill everyone in the Hive. This was ostensibly an effort to save humanity from the virus.
Samantha – Her (2013)
Instead of a sci-fi computer it’s an operating system. But Her starring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson deserves mention. The actress once voted by Esquire Magazine as its “Sexiest Woman Alive” never appears in the movie. Instead she is the voice of Samantha, the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system. Her develops a relationship with her co-star and falls in love.
Skynet – The Terminator (1984)
The famous movie computer system created for the U.S. military by defense contractor Cyberdyne System. A very famous computer name, Skynet was designed to act as a “Global Digital Defense Network”. Like the HAL 9000, Skynet becomes self aware and perceived humans as a threat to its existence. Skynet responds by invoking nuclear war against Russia. This sets the stage for Judgement Day and enlists terminators to exterminate the human race.
The Machines – The Matrix (1999)
Written and directed by the Wachowski Brothers and starring Keanu Reeves as Neo, humans are controlled in The Matrix. It’s a virtual reality simulator, by The Machines that have taken over the world. Members of the hovercraft Nebuchadnezzar believe Neo is “The One”. He’s prophesied to lead the humans to end the war against the intelligent machines. Although the fate of Neo was up for considerable debate, he defeats The Machines in Matrix Revolutions.
The Matrix Resurrections
Neo does return in the new Matrix movie – The Matrix Resurrections. Also known as the Matrix 4, the science fiction film is scheduled for release in theaters and HBO Max December 18. Keanue Reeves returns, as does one of the most famous computers in movie history.
The Net (1995)
A year after starring as an unwilling bus driver in the 1994 hit Speed, Sandra Bullock portrayed a cyber security specialist in The Net. She’s given a floppy disk containing a powerful program known as “Gatekeeper”. This software named Gatekeeper is capable of accessing national defense systems. No it’s not a computer, but in an era when the World Wide Web was still in its infancy, Bullock’s character becomes a victim of identify theft. She eventually exposes the criminals by using their own computer while at MacWorld San Francisco.
WOPR – War Games (1983)
WOPR (War Operations Plan Response) is America’s top military supercomputer. It’s inexplicably hacked by a high schooler starring Matthew Broderick. After cracking the password (Joshua), Broderick accesses the backdoor and plays a video game known as “ Global Thermonuclear War”. WOPR, believes it’s the real deal and almost destroys Russia with a nuclear barrage. The most famous quote from the famous computer movie has WOPR asking “shall we play a game?”
About The Author:
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. During his peak years, he reportedly had a digital audience reach of 489 million and more than 5.5 million monthly visitors. His stories have also appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com.