Do androids dream of electric Apples?

When David Szetela delivered his keynote speech at KansasFest 2007, he revealed a fact that is little-known to all but diehard geeks (which was, of course, exactly who he was addressing). It connected two of my favorite things: the Apple II computer and the Terminator movies.

In the Terminator films, the audience is often treated to the perspective of these cybernetic organisms sent from the future to change the past. This red-hued vision makes assessments and executes routines faster than the human eye can perceive -- but if you watch a certain scene in the first movie frame-by-frame, you may spot some familiar algorithms.

Terminator II+

Targeting systems online. Click for larger picture.That's right: the Terminator's underlying architecture is powered by code designed for the Apple II's 6502 microprocessor. Not only that, but the specific code used in the film was first printed in Nibble Magazine, of which Mr. Szetela was the founding editor. Apparently the personal computer that launched a technological revolution will launch another one: the rise of the machines. Or perhaps the Terminator, being the ultimate machine, has enough spare cycles to be running an emulator in the background. What can't Ahnuld do?

It's not unusual for directors to sneak their preferred computers into a movie to accomplish the impossible: a year after Terminator, an Apple IIc was powering the intertia-free spacecraft of the Explorers. It's just one of many such cameos -- and that's not even considering movies that are actually about computers. What computers have snuck their way into your favorite flicks?

(Hat tips to Mental Floss and Mark Simonsen)

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