UnNews:Computer from "War Games" to be scrapped for one penny

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Computer from "War Games" to be scrapped for one penny

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26 December 2014

IMSAI 8080

The red-white-and-blue front panel of the historic computer is vintage Americana.

HOLLYWOOD -- The computer used in the movie War Games is to be scrapped for a single penny, frustrating activists who view it as part of America's heritage.

Few can forget how the two pubescent youngsters used their 8-bit IMSAI to break into Department of Defense computers, place America's nuclear arsenal on DEFCON 9, make dozens of hidebound military men sweat, and acquire fast friends by singlehandedly changing the culture of war. The episode is considered the founding moment of hacking culture.

The IMSAI, with its smart line of plastic toggle switches, was the perfect machine for teenagers who could remember what number was a command to load the accumulator and how to encode it in binary. The red LEDs were a veritable eye into the machine's inner workings and, remarkably, never burned out. Programs could be stored in ROM memories, each holding an impressive 0.000004 gigabytes. Getting a program to successfully "chain" to another was the crowning achievement of a summer at the cabin, unless one preferred swimming.

Remarkably, however, U.S. experts believe that the pathbreaking IMSAI is now obsolete. For one thing, the modem attached to one of its two serial lines has virtually no phone numbers that will answer it. DoD computers are now all on the Internet, and the Department has switched from American teenagers to North Korean experts to hack into its missile network, a lamentable facet of the tendency to "outsource" work.

Moreover, there is still no 8-bit implementation of either SQL or JavaScript — despite repeated Requests For Proposals (RFP) from the Defense Department — making much popular software infeasible. It is even hard to get MP3s to play on the IMSAI.

The contract to tear down the IMSAI, issued to Joe's Salvage of Brownsville, Texas, is for $0.01. First, however, the IMSAI has to be transported there from Hollywood. The U.S. Navy had hoped to build a museum around it, but crowd-funding was not forthcoming. Joe, principal of Joe's Salvage, says that the steel chassis of the IMSAI will be sold as scrap. The delicate circuit boards will be put on a pallet and sent to China, where despite the new global warming treaty, it is still legal to throw it into a landfill.

In other news, Russian strongman Vladimir Putin sold famous nuclear attack submarine Red October to an American scrap yard for one penny, which is a lot of rubles these days.

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