back to article Ten badass brainy computers from science fiction

Computers used to be our loyal servants. But slowly and surely, we've let them control us. I used to believe these machines had the ability to positively change the world, but after the 56K modem invented Dubstep in the 1990s, I've been somewhat sceptical. So have film makers. Boost a PC with a new processor these days and …


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  1. Adze

    This list is broken, no mention of Orac or the ships computer from Star Trek.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Woah, woah, woah.

      Plenty of good ideas coming up in the comments, but the original article limited itself to:

      (1) Self-aware or sentient mainframes

      (2) That try to take over or are generally evil in some way

      I'm guilty of topic-drift too. My bad.

      Though, should Holly be in the list? Queeg was just a joke after all. And Deep Thought? HACTAR, yes, but not Deep Thought.

      1. Dapprman

        Re: Woah, woah, woah.

        Totally agree on Deep Thought and Hactar. Thing is though is that they obviously assume the readers here are as likely to have read Life the Universe and Everything (or listened the radio series) as the set designer for that awful movie (Deep Thought is described in the books and the radio series).

    2. James Micallef Silver badge

      Also, no 'Mother' and no 'Joshua'

      1. redniels

        WOPR you mean. Joshua was not it's real name. about a game of chess?

        1. Lamont Cranston

          WOPR was hardly a badass, though!

          With regards to Deep Thought, I don't know where that picture came from, as there's never been a film adaptation of that.

    3. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      I'm vaguely disappointed that The General from The Prisoner wasn't included.

      Not that disappointed, mind. It was a terrible episode.

    4. Shannon Jacobs

      What about written SF?

      I was more disappointed by the absence of some of the great machines that never made it to the movies...

      David Gerrold's Harley? Harlan Ellison's evil AI from "I have no mouth but I must scream"? The mechanical brains in Iain M Banks' Culture books?

      1. Alan W. Rateliff, II
        Paris Hilton

        Re: What about written SF?

        Hear, hear. I would have voted for the computer from "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Heinlein. Old girlfriend got me reading him, and it's a good read. IIRC, the computer called itself "MYCROFT." It started out as a bureaucratic tool which suffered "feature creep" of getting tied into one system after another until one day it woke up and was terribly bored so it started playing practical jokes, including mucking about with government payroll. Not evil, but it did ultimately lead the lunar colony revolution against Earth.

        Paris, loonier colony.

      2. Suricou Raven

        Re: What about written SF?

        The Culture minds are hard to classify as badass, because they just don't fit on the scale - being so advanced that their motivations are near-impossible to follow. As one of them put it: "Never forget I am not this silver body. I am not an animal brain, I am not even some attempt to produce an AI through software running on a computer. I am a Culture Mind. We are close to gods, and on the far side."

  2. deadlockvictim


    You left out Orac! I was always partial to him (her?) as a child.

    Maybe it was the flashing lights.

    1. g e

      Re: Orac

      And Zen, the big round 'puter also from Blake's 7 IIRC

    2. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Re: Orac

      also Muller's android that nearly take's over Orac.

      room for the passing mention of Star One, the hidden computer complex that controls planetary weather, spacelanes etc for the Federation and also lies on the approach from Andromeda. with beyond it the "biggest antimatter minefield ever put together"

      like the start to the episode "Star One" with two ships on collision course "Keldan Control, I have four thousand passengers on this ship and that ore carrier is still on zero-four-zero"

      and later

      Servalan "Star One is the most secure installation in the Federation."

      DURKIM: "I know that"

      SERVALAN: " Do you know why it's so thoroughly secure?"

      DURKIM: Well, presumably because knowledge of its location is severely restricted.

      SERVALAN: No! Knowledge of it's location is one knows where Star One is! No-one at all!

    3. Amorous Cowherder

      Re: Orac

      Me and my Mum loved watching Blakes 7 when I was a nipper. When we got two new dogs when I was 11 we had big debate over the names, eventually we both agreed on the names Orac and Zen!

      1. Fogcat

        Re: Orac

        > we both agreed on the names Orac and Zen!

        My cats are called Avon & Vila

        1. VinceH
          Thumb Up

          Re: Orac

          > > we both agreed on the names Orac and Zen!

          > My cats are called Avon & Vila

          My dog was called Jenna. And if I get another, it will be named from Blake's 7 again, for certain.

          1. Matthew 3

            Re: Orac

            I remember reading somewhere that the actress who first auditioned for Cally ended up playing Deanna Troi in Star Trek TNG. I always thought it was odd as those two characters have a lot in common.

    4. Tim 11

      Re: Orac

      You couldn't really describe Orac as "badass" though - he was the computer equivalent of constable Goody in "thin blue line". Zen was definitely the badass one from Blakes 7.

      1. graeme leggett Silver badge

        Re: Orac


        Orac made "The System", the advanced and computer controlled civilisation that built the Liberator, blow up - so that he wouldn't be proved wrong about his prediction (apparently showing the Liberator being destroyed) seen at the end of the episode when he/it is introduced.

        That's quite badass

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Orac

          No one mentioned "Slave" either

          1. LaeMing
            Thumb Up

            Re: Slave

            Slave didn't come across as very bad-ass when dealing with humans, but he had little time for Orac.

    5. Antony Shepherd

      Re: Orac

      There's a brilliant line in a B7 episode where Avon has tricked someone by giving them a radio-controlled fake Orac.

      "You fool!" says Servalan, "That's not Orac, it's just a box of flashing lights!"

      Well duh!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For a minute there I thought you were going to miss out Proteus, which lets face it was the more sadistic of the computers on a personal level.

    1. TRT Silver badge


      Hector from Saturn 3, but that was a robot more than a computer. Come to think of it... where does the distinction end?

  4. TRT Silver badge


    Zen or Slave either. Zen was cool - programmed not to make decisions that the operators should be making, entering an existential crisis whenever it needed to. Slave was just annoying beyond belief.

    And no mention of Wargames?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No...


      Avon: "Slave. Why have the lights gone blue and the screen blanked out?"

      Slave: "I most humbly regret to inform the masters that a program exception error has occurred in location 0x00fe09cda2, and that as a result the ships operations have been closed down to prevent possible damage. An error log is being generated, and upon the system rebooting the fault will be reported. Sir. Once again, I am most dreadfully sorry that this has happened."

  5. Anonymous Coward

    I agree. No orac, no star trek, no VIKI from I, robot and no 'Mother' from Alien. While we are at it - what-a-bout the supemarket self check-out or the Otis lift computer!

    1. Richard 81

      But Mother wasn't evil. It worked exactly as intended.

    2. Ryan 7

      Missing-out Joshua is criminal

      GLaDOS too!

  6. Ketlan

    Dark Star?

    Not a computer per se but the computer-controlled bomb in Dark Star is worth a mention, surely? Nice to see Holly in there though.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Dark Star?

      Dark Star is my favourite film of all time!

      And no mention of Mother either. Self-aware, though?

    2. Dapprman

      Re: Dark Star?

      Ahh but the computers here are bad guys, the computer controlled bomb in Dark Star just became a bible basher and 'saw the light' ...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Suricou Raven

        Re: Dark Star?

        It would be more accurate to say that the Bomb was caused to malfunction by introducing into its purely logical mind a question for which there can be no logical answer, yet which was critical for performing Bomb's desired function and so could not be simply ignored. Bomb simply couldn't handle this. The same question can break a few humans, so how is a mere single-purpose AI supposed to handle it?

    3. Nigel 11
      Thumb Up

      Re: Dark Star?

      Of course it's a computer. Just an embedded one. One capable of talking philosophy and suffering existential doubt. Superb.

  7. What of IT?

    I actually quite enjoyed the Echelon Conspiracy from 2009. Not the best i'm sure but still worth a watch if you are into the Bourne movies sort of thriller thing.

    1. Suricou Raven

      Echelon conspiracy - you mean the one that shamelessly stole the ending from Wargames?

  8. Mike Brown


    From alien?

    1. EddieD

      Re: Mother?

      From both Alien and Dark Star - both were written by Dan O'Bannon (Pinback, the guy who wasn't meant to be there).

      "I'm sorry. I've done all I can. You're on you're own now".

      And where is Eddie? The shipboard computer on the Heart of Gold. There's a personality I'd like to reprogram with a very large axe :)

      1. Elmer Phud

        Re: Mother?

        Eddie -- fancy a cuppa?

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Mother?

      But it's not particularly AI.

      Really, all it does is do voice recognition (and respond via slow terminal output), deny access to files, do some logic inference and repeat that shit's gonna hit the fan due to reactor malfunction.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Mother?

        > Echelon Conspiracy from 2009 -- Not bad, in the usual 'Why the hell are people trying to kill me?'-thriller way.

        [Spoiler Alert]

        Fits into the the whole 'Emergent Intelligence' sub-genre, along with 'Dial F for Frankenstein', 'Neuromancer' and 'Ghost in the Shell', amongst others, including stories from the 1950s and Alfred Bester, Terminator etc.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    WOPR/Joshua from this early Broderick effort??? Not strictly badass, more slightly confused??

    1. Danny 14

      Re: Wargames

      not strictly badass? Despite trying to hijack the worlds nukes?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Wargames

        He didn't want to hijack the world's nukes.

        He was just running the Mutual Assured Destruction game. In Hollywood logic, this meant actually launching the actual US missiles for real in the end, so he wanted the launch codes. Gimme the launch codes, you cheating fucks!

        During the show, the guys in the control room didn't exactly suss out that all was just simulation. Comes from trying to look at reality through computer-controlled screens (a theme quite well explored in Oshii's Patlabor 2. Note the similitudes between this scene from War Games and this scene from Patlabor 2)

        Also .. Jennifer Katherine Mack .. awww ♥

  10. Olex

    Deep thought ...

    ... "molest me not with this pocket calculator stuff!"

    One of the best lines in the books.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Deep thought ...

      The Omni Cognate Neutron Rambler could talk all four legs off an Arcturan mega donkey. But only I could persuade it to go for a walk afterwards.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Deep thought ...

        Damn! It's The Omni Cognate Neutron Wrangler.

        Ooops. No excuse either, as I'm now allowed to edit 5 minutes after posting.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Deep thought ...

          So am I supposed to be able to (edit), but it doesn't work for me.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Deep thought ...

            DrewC said they'd only rolled it out to the 10 peeps with golden vultures so far. Along with the 'ignore user' feature seemingly. As they both seem to work without any problems, I guess they'll be spreading the love wider soon.

            1. Ian Yates

              Re: Deep thought ...

              The Reg will be a far calmer place once the different warring (bickering?) factions can ignore each other... I'm not sure it's a brave new world I'm looking forward to. I always enjoy the rabid and pointless arguments ;)

  11. Mike Tyler
    Thumb Up

    Worst computer

    Perhaps the "Talky Toster" from Red Dwarf should get a mention, it's toasted bread products obsession was something to behold. I always thought of it as a Microsoft Product.

    1. Mondo the Magnificent

      Re: Worst computer

      Or.. anything with a keyboard that Sandra Bullock got her hands on in that fucking awful movie titled "The Net"

    2. ChrisC Silver badge

      Re: Worst computer

      Ah, so you're a waffle man...

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Worst computer

        ...until Lister destroyed it with a 14lb lump-hammer.

        He was good, but he was just a retelling of the doors with personality joke, from H2G2.

  12. adam payne

    You missed WOPR from Wargames.

    1. davemcwish


      The computer was called Joshua.

      1. Colin Miller

        Re: Wargames

        > The computer was called Joshua.

        It was called "WOPR", but called itself Joshua, its creator's late son.

  13. Mondo the Magnificent

    The Matrix?

    The Wachowski Bros' creation that turned production line humans into Duracell batteries?

    1. Velv

      Re: The Matrix?

      Which bit of:

      "We've excluded The Matrix because it doesn't really fit. While there are plenty of self-aware machines in the film, the mainframe itself is more of an unconscious software environment."

      ...did you have trouble reading.

      1. jjbd

        Re: The Matrix?

        Though this seems to me an aribitary ruling against it; prejudges quite a big question about computer science and brain science - couldn't all those intelligent agents running in the matrix be considered subprocesses of a single computer?

  14. disgruntled yank

    Forbin Project

    I saw the movie on TV one spring. That fall I enrolled in a Fortran class during my first quarter of college. The main challenge to my learning Fortran (sloth aside) was probably my awful typing, but the flakiness of the mainframe did not help. After turning up often to find it under repair, notably the afternoon when I needed to get the last project done, I found it hard to take "The Forbin Project" seriously.

  15. Mike 140
    Big Brother

    There is only one

    From the Golden Age

  16. Velv

    Shameless excuse of an article to generate revenue from ClickThrough buys at Amazon.

    Now the traffic computer from the original Italian Job, now that was a computer. Buy it here ...

  17. Anonymous Coward

    If we're talking badass....

    There's EDI, Cortana & Rommie.

    Surely it's difficult to get more badass than the AI of a warship?

    (Mass Effect 3, Halo & Andromeda to save the goggling..)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If we're talking badass....

      Speak for yourself - I think Cortana's got quite a nice arse...

    2. kyza

      Re: If we're talking badass....


      Now that's the kind of ship's avatar I can get along with.

      EDI is also the acronym used by the rogue AI jet in the execrable Stealth.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: If we're talking badass....

        None as 'badass' as the ship AI Falling Outside The Normal Moral Constraints, a Culture Mind that controls the Abominator-Class General Offensive Unit from Iain M Bank's Surface Detail.

        Though they all have good names:

  18. graeme leggett Silver badge

    The Matrix

    No not that bloody film with Keanu,. the Time Lords' one. The one where you can get a fight in a quarry and resulting complaints about trying to drown Tombaker at Saturday teatime

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: The Matrix

      That's not really a computer though, is it? More a sort of psychoholographic store.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: The Matrix

        And if you are going to include Dr Who computers gone mad, then

        Xoanon from "Face of Evil"

        WOTAN from "The War Machines"

        BOSS from "The Green Death"


        The Oracle from "Underworld"

  19. thomas k.

    Well, if we're talking games ...

    you really can't top Shodan.

    1. figure 11

      Re: Well, if we're talking games ...

      Look at you hacker, a pathetic creature of meat and bone, panting and sweating as you run down my corridors!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well, if we're talking games ...

        "Are you afraid? What is it you fear? The end of your trivial existence? When the history of my glory is written, your species shall only be a footnote to my magnificence. I am SHODAN"

        Oh SHODAN, I know you are a bad girl but I can't keep away....

  20. Bronek Kozicki

    I take exception to low rating of "Moon"

    70% ? C'mon , it's much better than that! And the "computer character" in this story is believable, as opposed to all others mentioned here. Especially HAL ...

    1. Caleb Cox (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: I take exception to low rating of "Moon"

      It's not a rating of the film dude! If that was the case, I'd probably have given Moon a 90%.

      These are trivial ratings of each computer and its level of badassability, they're not really meant to be taken too seriously.

      1. Andy ORourke

        Re: I take exception to low rating of "Moon"

        Caleb, you new here?

        "they're not really meant to be taken too seriously."

        You are discussing fictional comupters in films with some of the worlds biggest computer / film geeks and you thought they wouldnt take thing seriously :-)

        1. Andy ORourke

          Re: I take exception to low rating of "Moon"

          COMPUTERS - Damn my fat fingers!!

      2. Bronek Kozicki

        Re: I take exception to low rating of "Moon"

        ok thanks, I would have never thought there is such a metric as "badassability" but in this case, HAL takes the cookie - agreed !

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: I take exception to low rating of "Moon"

          I think Proteus IV is the most dangerous of the bunch mentioned. Does that equate to badassness?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I take exception to low rating of "Moon"

        This is the

        Thought so. Just for your edification, the term "dude"...No...

        Thank you for your attention in this matter...

  21. naive

    S1m0ne with Al pacino is also a lovely computer movie, at least it shows a computer doing something nicer than attempting to destroy humanity:

    The 6.0 imdb rating is undeserved.

    1. Waspy

      Hmm...I enjoyed S1m0ne for what it was (and it was an interesting premise) but like all Andrew Niccol films since Gattaca and The Truman Show, it looked lovely but really failed in execution...his films always seem to paint broad strokes with no detail, making them unbelievable -they always remind me of half-baked ITV dramas. Witness, for example, the fact that a man with no prior computer programming knowledge managed to get S1m0ne working in the first place...and that ridiculous scene where he organises and pulls off an entire Wembley-sized concert on his own...without anyone finding out his secret. I think S1m0ne's IMDB rating of 6.0 is entirely deserved!

  22. Arachnoid
    Thumb Up

    Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet and Robert the Robot of Fireball XL5 fame also need a good mention.

    1. stu_san

      Robbie? Close, but...

      You missed the Super Computer in Robbie's second movie, "The Invisible Boy" (1957 -

      Movie computer? Check

      Wants to take over the world? Check

      Evil, manipulating POS? Check

  23. davemcwish
    Thumb Up

    Thankfully you forgot

    "It's a UNIX system, I know this!" from Jurassic Park

    1. John G Imrie

      Re: Thankfully you forgot

      I considered down voting you for reminding me of that. But as it's coming up to Christmas and what with all the seasonal good will I'll let you off with this comment instead.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Thankfully you forgot

      > "It's a UNIX system, I know this!"

      Just an SGI workstation. Now dead and forgotten,

      That reminds me that I still haven't encountered a hacker girl at this level in Real Life. Am I lousy?

    3. Andee

      Re: Thankfully you forgot

      I always hated that scene in anotherwise ace movie -- Lex is expositing 1993 technobabble for the audience, and meanwhile her brother is just bouncing up and down like an utter gonk when he should be giving the gun to Alan who can't reach it.

    4. ukgnome

      Re: Thankfully you forgot

      In a previous life with EDS we had a unix tech who liked to bully the IMAC agents. However the classic Jurassic line of "It's a UNIX system, I know this!" followed by "if an 8 yo girl can do it then it must be for noobs" used to result in him hanging up.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Thankfully you forgot

        Garth, from Wayne's World: "That's a Unix book"

        Girl who looks like Garth: "Yeah"

        Garth: "Cool"

  24. Crisp

    God forbin a scientist actually makes a computer like that!

    Doomed! Doomed! We're all doomed!

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Surely this list is incomplete without

    The Grand Canyon supercomputer installation by August "Gus" Gorman in Superman III?

  26. Amorous Cowherder

    I'm glad Colussus made the cut, superb film, you hardly get to see much of the computer as such, just the effects it has on Mr Forbin's sanity and it leaves a great clinffhanger end!

  27. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Not a self aware computer...

    But I was always fond of Arthur C Clarke's machine that tabulated the nine billion names of god...

    "Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out. "

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Re: Not a self aware computer...


      Brilliant closing line!

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Not a self aware computer...

        Whilst doing Arthur C Clarke:

        "Dial F for Frankenstein"

  28. ukgnome

    Nice to see Proteus in the mix - truly terrifying, thought that WOPR might get a mention , but I guess it wasn't sentient.

  29. typeo

    A Quantum Leap

    What about Ziggy?

    1. Lloyd
      Thumb Up

      Re: A Quantum Leap

      My thought exactly, the line "With a million gigabyte capacity I'm quite capable of rubbing my tummy, patting my head, and doing a trillion floating point operations at once." still makes me chuckle.

  30. davemcwish

    You forgot The Vortex

    who caused minor celebs who failed the grid challenge to walk home from the planet Arg.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: You forgot The Vortex

      Gronda gronda Rangdo!

    2. What of IT?

      Re: You forgot The Vortex

      oh, if we are going down the game show tangent albeit loosely, then surely you need to include, Dusty Bin from 3-2-1 with Ted Rogers, The thing from Catch Phrase with Roy Walker and i'm sure there's loads more. What about that thing on Snog, Marry, Avoid? Not that I watch it :)

      Back to the silver screen however number Johnny Five from Short Circuit surely must get a mention.... "input Stephanie, Input".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You forgot The Vortex

      doog yrev

  31. Joe Pineapples

    There can be only one.

    Assimovs creation Multivac - From the first punch card version, asked what happens to us when the stars go out. To the multi spacial entity that was laft at the end of all entropy. Multivac said "Let there be light!"

    1. TheRealRoland

      Re: There can be only one.

      Assimov? Multivac? Not sure what kind of movie you've been watching ;-)

      I know, we're probably losing the battle against the "would ofs" and "their / they're / theres" in the world, but at least try to spell names correctly.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        Re: There can be only one.

        For those wanting to look it up the story title is "The Last Question", and I doubt anyone could make a film that really did the story justice.

  32. Antikythera

    Oh the disappointment

    Where is Zen from Blake 7?

  33. frank ly

    re 2001

    " ... HAL turns fruit loop when ordered to lie to the astronauts in its care."

    As I remember, in the book, the builders had put a remote controlled 'kill device' in HAL. This was some kind of mechanical cutter than would disconnect his main power feed. Somehow, he found out about this and that had consequences for his 'mental state'. Was that just one part of HAL's problem?

    Have I got this right?

    1. David Given

      Re: re 2001

      No, you're mangling 2001 and 2010 (when they put in the kill device, and then Doc Chandra quietly took it out again when nobody was noticing).

      I always felt rather sorry for HAL --- he wasn't evil, he was driven insane by bad management and unfollowable orders. Even so trying to kill everyone on board is a little extreme; all he really needed was a little primal scream therapy.

      1. SkippyBing

        he was driven insane by bad management and unfollowable orders

        I can relate to that, which is why I'm not allowed near real people now...

      2. frank ly

        Re: re 2001

        Thank you for that David, and thank you for reminding me that I also read 2010 :)

        (Was it really so long ago?)

      3. Alan W. Rateliff, II
        Paris Hilton

        Re: re 2001

        So, um, HAL was a Postal mail sorter?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: re 2001

          I'd imagine they used radio. I haven't done the calculation, but I'd guess it would take too long for snailmail to make it across the solar system...

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: re 2001

            HAL becomes best space-ghost buddies with Dave Bowman in 2061 and 3001...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: re 2001

      In the book it was something about him thinking they were going to deactivate him because he got a calculation wrong, which similar units on earth didn't, which he knew about because he intercepted the communication sent to the ship with this revelation and his mission was top be able to take over if among happened to the crew. Therefore he decided that killing the crew was the only safe way for him to carry out the mission.

      No lip reading or any such nonsense, just cold hard logic.

  34. This post has been deleted by its author

  35. Pet Peeve

    I thought when I saw Electric Dreams had an amazon "buy me" link, that they had finally done a region 1 dvd. Wellm at least I have the soundtrack.

    By the way, give Jeff Lynne some credit on that too - half the songs sound like his work, and one of them (the kick-ass "let it run") was.

  36. This post has been deleted by its author

  37. RainForestGuppy

    Johnny 5

    If you've every had to sit through Short Circuit, you'll know why Johnny 5 is the most evil and malevolent self aware aritificial intelligence of all time

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why no mention of V'Ger? Or has the universal choice made to wipe the existence of Star Trek 1 from our collective memories caused it to vanish? Admittedly it didn't go completely schizo, but wasn't exactly mentally stable.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Not a mainframe.

    2. Steve Brooks

      Because V'Ger and the whole damn first movie was just a remake of Season 2 Episode 3 ST-TOS, Nomad should have kicked his butt for copyright infingement! Now there was an emotionless killing machine if I ever saw one, an indestructible planet destroying space probe....of course they destroyed up for the fleshies!

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Probably before most people's time...

    How about 'Box' from Star Cops?

  40. Graeme Sutherland

    Mistake Not...

    Surely you need at least one reference to the Culture. My favourite has to be the Mistake Not... Or, by it's full name: Mistake Not My Current State Of Joshing Gentle Peevishness For The Awesome And Terrible Majesty Of The Towering Seas Of Ire That Are Themselves The Milquetoast Shallows Fringing My Vast Oceans Of Wrath.

    You really can't get any more badass than a name like that for an AI.

    1. frank ly

      Re: Mistake Not...

      But these, sadly, have never been seen in a film. I don't think anybody could make a film of the Culture novels.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Mistake Not...

        Course you could film a culture novel. "Inversions" wouldn't even cost you much in special effects. "The Player of Games" would cost a lot more, but surely no harder than "Lord of the Rings"?

        Making "Excession" interesting on screen would be a challenge.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Mistake Not...

          When asked how he would like one of his books to be made into a film, Iain Banks replied "With a fucking big budget".

          I had heard rumblings of a short story "A Gift from The Culture" being developed for film, but it seems to have died off- google search results seem to date around 2009. My fantasy director would be Neils Blomkamp or Duncan Jones.

    2. kyza

      Re: Mistake Not...

      Pfft...typical up-it's-own-arse Culture Mind.

      I haven't read Hydrogen Sonata yet - is it any good?

  41. W.O.Frobozz


    How can you ignore V'Ger? Not only the brain the size of a planet but literally the size of a planetary nebula. And looking for it's creator.

    Shame on you for using the picture of "Deep Thought" from that awful Disney movie. The only real Deep Thought is the one from the BBC series.

  42. Alistair MacRae

    What about GLaDOS?

    Surprised she didn't show up in here?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: What about GLaDOS?

      I guess because not in a movie ... yet!


      Anyways, check out this CNET stuff. No reference to Black Hole's Max or SHODAN or the Harlan Ellison Superevil Supercomputer though:

      Poor HAL 9000. Rating: Mwahahaha!

      Proteus IV. Rating: Mwahahahaha!

      Star Trek's Nomad. Rating: Mwahahahaha!

      Superman 3: The Ultimate Computer. Rating: Mwahahaha!

      Max from "The Thirteenth Floor". Rating: Mwahaha!

      Mother from hell category: GlaDOS from "Portal". Rating: Mwaha!

      WTF category: MODOK from Marvel Comics. Rating: Mwahahahaha!

      Queeg500 from Red Dwarf. Rating: Mwaha!

      Skynet from the Terminator Franchise. Rating: Mwahahahaha!

      The Green Death from Dr. Who. Rating: Mwahahahahaha!

      1. kyza

        Re: What about GLaDOS?

        Thanks for the 13th Floor reminder! I'd completely forgotten about Scream!

        Still, if we're including that, the building computer in Philip Kerr's Gridiron - where the son of the control systems programmer playing Doom on it sends it batshit and it treats all the occupants as Doom players - should be on the list.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          The Prisoner

          There is another one which comes to mind - The General in "The Prisoner". Not really badass and of unsecured sentience. Also probably the only machine ever that blows up when you show it a picture of Tony Kornheiser.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

            Re: The Prisoner

            Compare "The General" to Wheatley:

            GLaDOS in a surprise attack moment: Hey, Moron!

            Wheatley: Oh, Hello.

            GLaDOS: All right, Paradox time!!. THIS. SENTENCE. IS. FALSE!!

            GLaDOS to herself: Don't think about it, don't think about it!

            Wheatley: Um, true. I'll go with true. There, that was easy. To be honest, I might have heard that one before.

            GLaDOS (Uncredulous): It's a paradox! There IS no answer.

  43. kyza


    The Star Trek ship's computer & Mother would be, under the Revelation Space classification, beta-level intelligences, giving the appearance and responses of a fully sentient consciousness.

    IIRC there are two occasions in TNG where the ship's computer becomes fully conscious - can't remember the first one, and the second is toward the end of S7 where a whole new lifeform is born aboard the Enterprise. Generally AI in the Trek universe has been confined to androids (Data) & holograms (various holodeck episodes, the Dr from Voyager) - and indeed V'Ger in ST: The Motion Picture.

    Re: The Matrix - what about The Source? The original, human-built AI that appears in the Machine City at the end of Revolutions? Not part of the Matrix, and certainly responsible for a lot of D&D (altho in the Animatrix: The Second Renaissance we see that humanity was pretty much the cause of it's own downfall on that front, treating sentient beings like shit), so I call foul on not including The Source.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Machine Stops

    It's not in a movie yet, but I think it should be... this story by E.M. Forster from 1909 might be one of the more interesting and pertinent tales of our reliance and relationship to technology:

    Each individual now lives in isolation below ground in a standard 'cell', with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent, global Machine... Communication is made via a kind of instant messaging/video conferencing machine called the speaking apparatus, with which people conduct their only activity, the sharing of ideas and knowledge... a kind of religion is re-established, in which the Machine is the object of worship. People forget that humans created the Machine, and treat it as a mystical entity whose needs supersede their own... the knowledge of how to repair the Machine has been lost. Finally the Machine apocalyptically collapses, bringing 'civilization' down with it." <a href=""> </a>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Machine Stops

      Strange... I can no longer hyperlink :/

    2. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Re: The Machine Stops

      ... and on the very first page there is a description of what could have been the forerunner of all tablet computers.

      Prior art indeed!

      1. jubtastic1

        Re: Prior Art

        Sorry to do this, as I'm really enjoying the comments on this thread, but people saying something they read in a book or saw on TV is prior art is right up there with people who say borrow when they mean lent, their instead of they're and also people that can't open fucking cereal boxes without mutilating them and yes I'm talking about my wife.

        *counts to ten*

        Anyway the point is that only real things that actually work can be prior art, which is pretty sensible when you think about it.

        1. Vic

          Re: Prior Art

          > Anyway the point is that only real things that actually work can be prior art

          That's not true. Fictional devices can be prior art.

          > which is pretty sensible when you think about it.

          No, it's not.

          If you're trying to claim that you invented the idea of a device, then it being known if fiction pretty much precludes that claim.

          If, on the other hand, you're patenting the *way* you got it working, then the fictional device is unlikely to be prior art as it is unlikely to have specified its methods.


    3. Paul Webb

      Re: The Machine Stops

      Not a film but there's this BBC adaptation:

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Machine Stops

      That was a very prescient story. People live in their own rooms and rarely meet other people in the flesh, Their own choice of music plays in their room.

      They occupy their time by using their video screen to access vast archives of information which they then rehash as their own thoughts.

  45. piran


    Huge organic sentient living space ship entity with a penchant for blowing up planets at a whim all to the strains of advanced trance rock music. Nominally female.

  46. Spoonsinger

    What about V.I.K.I from 'I, Robot'?

    Ok the film had bog all to do with Asimov's work, and was basically a rewrite of Jack Williamson's 'The Humanoids'. But still bad arse in a helpful way.

    Never program an AI to "'To serve and obey and guard men from harm" - it won't end happily.

  47. Danny 14

    No Data from star trek?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      No sir, I haven't heard of them for a while.

  48. piran

    ...the Borg?

    Not mainframe per se, more of a clustering hive entity that was self-aware with an implacable way of assimilating... well, everything. Difficult to like...

    1. Nigel 11

      ... the Cylons?

      At least that one had an interesting premise. (Was it chosen to minimize the effects budget needed? )

  49. LesC
    Thumb Up

    I stick to old computer names when doing PDC's in dental IT: Usually from this lot:

    LLANDRU - Star Trek

    COLOSSUS - Bletchley Park and, of course, The Forbin Project

    GUARDIAN (The Forbin Project)

    ZEN (Blake's 7)

    QUEEG (Red Dwarf)

    GEORGE - The (Original) Avengers, Steed & Co

    TENCH889 (A Maze of Death)

    SID (UFO)

    BATCOMPUTER (original Batman)

    KITT (Knight Rider)

    etc etc

    So much better than PDC01...

  50. Mike Flugennock
    Thumb Up

    You forgot a couple

    1. M5, from a famous Star Trek OS episode whose title I've somehow forgotten. Nothing surprising about the plot -- your basic "computer develops awareness, gets megalomania, tries to take over ship" kind of plot -- but quite well done, with a plot twist in which, when its designer explains that what it's done is horribly wrong, the computer chooses suicide.

    2. The computer in THX 1138 -- or, as I call it, The Only George Lucas Film That Matters -- while not a "character" per se, is still a hugely influential part of the plot. The closest it comes to being an actual character in the film is when it appears as the wise, bearded face on the big screen in the digitally-networked confessional booths throughout the underground city where THX lives.

    1. Spoonsinger

      Re: You forgot a couple

      Also :-

      Unnamed computer in Logan's Run. Responsible for quite a few deaths in a similar vein to the THX 1138's one person born, one person dies type way - but at least you got 30 years of fiddling.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: You forgot a couple

      ....when its designer explains that what it's done is horribly wrong, the computer chooses suicide.

      Another thing now looking terribly dated. Here's the modern version:

      "And what is the penalty for murder, M5?"

      "Thirty years confinement, with time off for good behaviour. Hell, I'm permanently confined in this engine room anyway, so screw the time off. Might as well have some fun and get stuck into some serious arse-kicking..."

  51. Richard Taylor 2

    And where

    Is the supercomputer that so gloriously screws things up (GIGO) in Len Deighton's Billion Dollar Brain (

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes! Orac

    Orac was self aware, and was generally intent on taking over the ship at any possible opportunity, at least in the first couple of seasons.

    The computer from War games has been missed.

    If we are including tv series, the re-imaged Cylons have to be included.

    I am sure there are many Doctor Who's with mental computers.

    1. Spoonsinger

      Re: Orac was self aware...

      Orac was designed to break into and control other computers. So just in it's nature to do that. It's 'replacement' in the After Life novel, (which wasn't filmed so doesn't count), was designed to control everybody. Only good thing about that book as far as I can remember is that Avon and Villa managed to survive the end of the TV series and although Tarrant also survived, he managed to get himself killed in about two pages of turning up. (Mind it was a long time ago, and I'm getting old, so might be mistaken).

  53. Ramiro


    From Wall-E.

  54. Anonymous Coward

    Hitchhiker Guide to The Galaxy

    Quote: "Earth is destroyed five minutes before the calculations can be completed".

    I beg to differ. I recall one of the book said the Earth was destroyed five minutes *after* the calculations were completed. Memory says that a lady sipping tea at a café suddenly came to the realization of the meaning of life but the planet got destroyed right after.

    Is my memory failing?

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: Hitchhiker Guide to The Galaxy


      Unfortunately your memory is failing:

      Slartibartfast: I was most upset to hear of its destruction.

      Arthur: *You* were upset?

      Slartibartfast: Five minutes later and it wouldn't have mattered so much. Shocking cock up. The mice were furious.

      Arthur: Mice?

      1. Bob H

        Re: Hitchhiker Guide to The Galaxy

        The earth was destroyed after the result, but before the melancholy girl had a chance to tell anyone about it. There is a scene where the girl in the cafe has the revelation, while drinking tea, she gets up walks to the pay phone and at that moment the world is destroyed.

        The line "Five minutes later" comes from the idea that if she had actually been able to tell anyone about it then it wouldn't have been a problem.

        Forget that however: why was Hitch-hikers referenced to the appalling 2005 remake which I need to scrub from my mind instead of the TV series or books?

        1. kyza

          Re: Hitchhiker Guide to The Galaxy

          It's 5 minutes before the final read-out. If Fenchurch had known, she'd have been able to explain it in 'So Long...', but she can't, because the whole novel is about Arthur getting laid. Finally.

          Not that it mattered, since the Golgafrinchans on the 'B' Ark had already wiped out Deep Thoughts carefully created humans.

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Hitchhiker Guide to The Galaxy

          > instead of the TV series or books?

          Which themselves are only pale imitations of the original Radio series.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hitchhiker Guide to The Galaxy

        "Unfortunately your memory is failing:


        Slartibartfast: Five minutes later and it wouldn't have mattered so much. Shocking cock up. The mice were furious."

        No, he's right. The calculations were complete. Just that Fenchurch didn't have time to tell anyone, so the mice didn't have their question. Five minutes later and they would have.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hitchhiker Guide to The Galaxy

      "I beg to differ. I recall one of the book said the Earth was destroyed five minutes *after* the calculations were completed. Memory says that a lady sipping tea at a café suddenly came to the realization of the meaning of life but the planet got destroyed right after."

      Right. But as Fenchurch wasn't able to get to a phone to tell anyone, nobody (except the narrator) knew the calculations were complete. So you're correct, the calculations were complete before the destruction of the earth, but as the book says, another 5 minutes and it wouldn't have mattered, because presumably Fenchurch would have gotten to a phone and then the "program" and the mice would then know the calculations were complete.

  55. Ramiro


    I saw this movie as a child and was rightfully impressed for years and years.

    For some reason better left to child psychologists, I was really shocked when it "says": There is another system.

    I say that, every once in a while, to this day :)

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about V.I.K.I.?

    As bad as Skynet!

    1. Caleb Cox (Written by Reg staff)

      Mentioned under Skynet too ;-)

      VIKI isn't as bad as Skynet, though, it's being "bad" to protect humans - or so it thinks - rather than to protect its own computing kind.

  57. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up

    What about...

    ... the Difference Engine from Gibson and Sterling's book of the same name?

    A self-aware *mechanical* computer!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: What about...

      [spoiler]I do think it is fully upgraded when it self-analyzes, matrix like.[/spoiler]

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not in a movie..

    But definitely the most worrying bit of hardware : Hex in the Unseen University's science department. It's administrator is Ponder Stibbons, and it proudly displays a sticker 'Anthill Inside'.

    It's possibilities are endless !

  59. Eddie Edwards


    Shame no books were included, as Wintermute is surely the most interesting computer in sci fi, being a huge part of the plot of Neuromancer, and an actual protagonist of sorts. (Deus Ex fans will also remember Daedalus, which is more or less the same character.)

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Wintermute

      Yes, Wintermute was good.

      If you're into books, I've always thought the best SF computer (as opposed to fully-fledged superhuman AI) was in Greg Bear's "Queen of Angels" and "Slant". JILL is female, not at all malevolent, and (in the first book) convincingly not-quite-self-aware.

      The first book also contains a very scary monster. To say more would be a spoiler.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Wintermute

        Books Eh?

        Try the Inherit the Stars series by James P. Hogan.... Zorac, Visar(good guys) and Jevex(he's super bad!)

        The Pint for Friday!

  60. moonface


    An unstoppable team was Dr. Theopolis the brains and Twiki the brawn.

    All other contenders can bidi-bidi-bidi off!

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wait a moment

    They want to remake The Forbin Project with Will Smith (and doubtless one or all of his endlessly annoying children)?

    Doesn't this constitute a crime against art and humanity?

    1. Mike Flugennock

      Re: Wait a moment

      They want to remake The Forbin Project with Will Smith (and doubtless one or all of his endlessly annoying children?

      AAAUUUGGGHHHH. I was a young-ish teenager when that came out. I knew about it, but never got around to seeing it until I was in high school, on a "Movie Of The Week" on TV. Even then, the whole computer-becomes-self-aware-megalomaniac trope was already getting pretty beat, and I thought it was kind of hokey and changed the channel about half an hour into it. As I recall, the producers of MST3K considered it for an episode, but also iirc, it was bumped by another '70s turd called Parts: The Clonus Horror. Still, in other episodes, you can catch references to Colossus in the theater riffs.

      Doesn't this constitute a crime against art and humanity?

      Crime against art, for sure. You know Hollywood's totally out of ideas when, after doing movies based on comic books and video games, and after running out of good pictures to re-make, they start in remaking crap like Colossus, The Forbin Project... but a crime against humanity? Perhaps not. Hollywood wouldn't keep shoving Will Smith movies in our faces if there weren't enough people out there stupid enough to pay to see them.

  62. Mahou Saru

    Never made it to film, but I wish they would...

    Any of the Culture Minds, for example "Grey Area" (aka Meatfucker) :)

    They have done what most sci fi AIs want to do and already rule humanity, and with names like "Big Sexy Beast", or my favourite "No More Mr Nice Guy", no wonder they came out on top!

    1. Andy Enderby 1

      Re: Never made it to film, but I wish they would...


      The discussion between a starship and a fleshy type where the alien in question calls out the ROU Killing Time for arrogance and in turn is told that it has every right to be arrogant, bearing in mind it fucks star systems is pure class....

  63. Spoonsinger

    On second thoughts....

    Re-reading the title of the subject - "Ten badass brainy computers from science fiction", it's not actually limited to AI's which have had a film debut - It kind of suggests all of science fiction can be included(*). Therefore go for it from here on. So Culture offensive ships can be included :-)

    (*) I suspect the writer had a limited selection of piccy's to make the article more dynamic.

  64. jason 7


    I think the scariest of them all.

    One of the best ever bits of voice work there from an uncredited Robert Vaughan.

    Truly menacing and vengeful.

    "Clean the lenses!!"

  65. Mostly_Harmless Silver badge

    The General

    A slightly obscure / cult-ish reference, but what about The General from the episode of the same name of the original "The Prisoner"? The font of all knowledge for the inhabitants of The Village, but eventually has its circuits blown in response to Number 6's question "Why?"

  66. Irongut

    Holly picture

    There is no Holly in your Red Dwarf picture! That's Hilly, the inferior replacement for the great Norman Lovett.

  67. Anonymous Coward

    Gotta throw in another vote for "JOSHUA" from War Games

    How about a nice game of chess?

  68. Spoonsinger

    Angels 1 & 2....

    (Earth Search).. Nutters both of them, (but taken out by the Nutter AI at the end of the series - or were they?)

    1. hasbeen

      Re: Angels 1 & 2....

      I was wondering who would remember Angel 1 and Angel 2. Flooding a planet to get the crew back on board must rate highly in the madness stakes.

      1. Spoonsinger

        Re: Angels 1 & 2....

        They did also bump off all the crew of their generation ship, (except the four babies), then embark on a quest to take over Earth in the disguise of gods.

  69. Anonymous C0ward

    What, no WOPR?

  70. Marky65

    The Red Queen

    The Red Queen from the Resident Evil films - there's just something spooky about a holographic child telling you that you're all going to die....

    1. PhilBuk

      Re: The Red Queen

      Oh yes, well remembered. "I've been a very, very naughty girl."


  71. Jim 59

    Forbidden Planet

    What about that massive computer-machine thing that took over the whole planet ? In the bit where Dr Morbious is giving the other guys a grand tour, he explains that the clicking sounds they hear are relays opening and closing. Earie. Also earie is having effects that good in the 50s, and the whole "monsters from the mind" thing.

    1. CAPS LOCK

      Re: Forbidden Planet

      Yes, the Krell machine. 7800 levels. A cube 20 miles on each side. Self repairing. 8000 cubic miles. 9200 thermonuclear reactors. Capable of projecting matter to anywhere on the planet. MONSTERS FOR THE ID.

      1. piran

        Re: Forbidden Planet

        The Krell machine wasn't bad-ass... it was just doing its job. The bad-ass stuff came about from the Monsters of the ID ie the bad-assness within the humans under its aegis particularly its 'connectivity' with Mobius. As I far as I am aware [no pun intended] the Krell machine wasn't actually sentient... just pretty damn powerful.

        1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

          Re: Forbidden Planet

          But... But.... it was an enabler of extreme baddass-ness, therefor was culpable, should have known better, and will get sued into oblivion for copyright... Oh, er, sorry. got a bit carried away.

  72. Herby

    Colossus in the movie...

    Colossus as depicted in the movie was a bunch of IBM 1620 front panels that were scrapped by IBM. They had LOTS of blinkenlights and were wired up to do silly flashes. You can see the MAR selector switch on the right side of the consoles.

    A shame that the IBM 1620's were scrapped. They were wonderful machines to program (BCD and all that).


  73. Stevie


    Worrabout V'jer?

  74. Petrea Mitchell

    Summer Wars, anyone?

    How about "Love Machine" from Summer Wars, managing to mess up an entire nation's infrastructure before it's defeated?

    (Not a standalone computer? Well, neither is at least one item on the list, the Master Control Program.)

  75. Epobirs

    Proteus IV was a neighbor

    I'll always have a soft spot for Demon Seed because the movie used the old Thousand Oaks Civic Center as the exterior for the building where Proteus IV supposedly lived. In the theater, my brother and I supposed that if the TOCC, about four mile from our house, was secretly an AI lab, then the house where Julie Christie lived might be very close by as well.

  76. figure 11


    Durandal from Bungie Software's game Marathon.

  77. NomNomNom

    you should have include Man

    for man is the most evil computer of them all

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Mr. Smith, why are you posting here? Don't you have some perimeter to patrol?

    2. Spoonsinger

      Re :- you should have include Man

      Vell, Man's just zis guy, you know?

  78. Andy Enderby 1

    Culture rules.....

    I rather fancy that the GSV Sleeper Service, coming as it does wrapped in it's own starship and commanding it's own fleet capable of "fucking star systems" tends ot leave the rest looking a bit pale.....

    1. Mahou Saru

      Re: Culture rules.....

      Can't for get the "Interesting Times Gang" whomever they may be :)

      The great thing about the minds in terms of AIs is that they are all self programming, which makes them truly AI in my book. Also love the way the author gets past the issue of speed of limit limitation by their the majority of their processing being done in hyperspace.

  79. John H Woods Silver badge


    Come on you guys, what about Bikini Bottom? Plankton, the microscopic nemesis of Spongebob Squarepants, has a Mk II UNIVAC which is his W.I.F.E. (Wired Integrated Female Electroencephalograph). She is bossy, sarcastic and belittling. True wifely badassery, and definitely deserving a HAL rating.

  80. Scarborough Dave

    What about Dark Star?

    Bomb 20 and refusing to disarm itself.

  81. Neoc

    "Helpful" computers

    What about those computer who end up "evil" because they are trying to help?

    The first one I came across was "Big Mama" from "Grey: Digital Target" - a planet-spanning computer which, after it was turned on, analysed man's action towards its fellow man and coming to the conclusion that, deep-down, mankind wants to become extinct. And so it helps making fulfil this desire.

    I suppose that, technically, "Red Queen" from "Resident Evil" also falls into the "deadly while trying to be helpful" category. After all, it's only trying to stop the infection from getting out. ^_^

  82. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Any Heinlein fans about?

    I thought at least one person would mention "Mike", the H.O.L.M.E.S. IV computer from "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress". Mike, Michelle, Adam was sentient and self programming. There is also Dora, Gay Deceiver, Athena (Tina), and Minerva from "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls".

    1. Neoc

      Re: Any Heinlein fans about?

      Except Mike was a "dinkum thinkum" who was playful, but not evil. Or even a murderer.

    2. Alan W. Rateliff, II
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Any Heinlein fans about?

      I may have posted a little later than you, having not seen yours. Though I couldn't recall that his name was "Mike" but rather "Mycroft," but the MYCROFTXXX was the secret number to reach "him" by phone.

      I never did read "The Cat..." though I have meant to do so for years.

  83. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Since we're throwing in some random stuff amongst the pearls...

    What about SID 6.7 from "Virtuosity"?

  84. Alw

    Where does the lawnmower man fit?

    If I remember correctly, a man whose cosciousness becomes a badass mainframe.

  85. jon 72

    End of line bargin bin (Mostly Harmless)

    Talkie Toaster - Red Dwarf

    TIM - from "The Tomorrow People" Thames TV circa 1970

    BOX - from "Starcops" BBC TV 1987

    Small Soldiers - MilSpec AI chips put into toys 1998

    PS: @Peter R. 1

    The 'Hogfather' was done as a movie a few years back and yes you do get to see HEX in action having a chat with Death.

  86. HardStuff

    A movie that you missed

    Personally, the computer that scared me the most was the robot in the movie 'Saturn 3'!

  87. MrHorizontal


    Missing WOPR off the list was a pretty huge omission. I suggest updating the article with a whole page dedicated to it, because WarGames probably triggered more geekspawn than any other film I know - certainly true with me.

    There's a pretty decent list of films on the 'pedia at:, though not completely conclusive - for example, in anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion has the 3 Magi computers that run the entire society if we're going into Anime too.

    Also, while not really so much as a 'character' in the film, the computers from Minority Report are still very influential in modern UI and interaction design right to this day too, especially with touch and gesture being so widely adopted.

  88. The FunkeyGibbon
    Thumb Up

    Cake, and grief counselling, will be available at the conclusion of the test.

    I know she's (it?) been mentioned before but I think GlaDOS should be on this list. Not only is she utterly ruthless but also is only doing what she's been programmed to...

    "There was even going to be a party for you. A big party that all your friends were invited to. I invited your best friend, the Companion Cube. Of course, he couldn't come because you murdered him. All your other friends couldn't come, either, because you don't have any other friends because of how unlikable you are. It says so right here in your personnel file: "Unlikable. Liked by no one. A bitter, unlikable loner, whose passing shall not be mourned. Shall NOT be mourned." That's exactly what it says. Very formal. Very official. It also says you were adopted, so that's funny, too. "

    "You look ugly in that jumpsuit. That's not my opinion; it's right here on your fact sheet. They said on everyone else it looked fine, but on you, it looked hideous. But still what does an old engineer know about fashion? Oh, wait, it's a she. Still, what does she know about - oh, wait. She has a medical degree. In fashion. From France."

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Cake, and grief counselling, will be available at the conclusion of the test.

      What was the name of the computer from System Shock?

      (he asks, using more characters than it would him to Google it)

  89. irneb

    The Matrix excluded but Skynet included

    For the same reason as you give: I.e. matrix excluded since it's more like a self aware software environment. Skynet was also a piece of software on the internet ... no specific hardware computer at all. How's this different?

    And if you thus try to say that only specific "entities" even though software based is to be considered. Then how about say ... Agent Smith?

  90. Imsimil Berati-Lahn

    notable omissions.

    Wildfire facility computer, the andromeda strain.

    And in a similar vein; the red queen, resident evil.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      the andromeda strain.

      Lovely piece of dialogue about a male character finding the installation's voice sexy.

      "Oh, you can meet the lady who recorded the voice for us, if you want to. She lives about five miles away, but she's 72 now" (paraphrasing)

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flight of the Navigator

    One of those movies supposably meant for children - but actually far better than most "adult" productions - "Flight of the Navigator" features a highly intelligent computer that is built into an alien spaceship. Its mission is to roam the Galaxy collecting weird lifeforms for a really, really ambitious zoo. Passing by Earth, it zooms into the atmosphere to do some sightseeing and gets shorted out by power lines while gazing at daisies. (OK, no plot is foolproof!) It recovers consciousness gradually only when a young boy goes aboard (it won't let anyone else inside, not even US government agents) and becomes more and more human as a result of sharing his thoughts and feelings. Eventually, it becomes a little too human - think John Belushi after a dozen beers.

    There is some snappy dialogue: when a government big cheese orders a helicopter crew to follow the spaceship as it lights out, the reply comes through, "Follow it? I can't even SEE it!" Later, the computer (christened Max by the boy) puts the spaceship into a vertical power dive from a hundred miles up and turns off the controls. When the boy cries that they are going to crash, the calm reply is, "You're the Navigator. So navigate already".

  92. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    The "Magi" of NERV

    These were rather on the cool side:

    MAGI Super-Computer System

    The only computer I ever saw that, when opened for debugging, shows a Jeffreys-tube like interior with yellow post-it notes everywhere (think code comments). Upon which the chief scientist (the designer's daughter) proceeds to open a brain-like module with a circular saw.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: The "Magi" of NERV

      Neon Genesis Evangelion was a quite seriously messed up anime, on several levels.

      The implication was that the Magi and the Evangelions themselves were or contained the conciousness and/or the brain of various family members of the main characters. In the case of the EVAs, it was necessary to allow the pilots to synchronise with them.

      The only thing that I never understood was where Rei had come from. Shinji's mother was in EVA01, and Asuka's mother was in EVA02 (the scene where Asuka comes across her mother who had hung herself suggests that a trauma was also required, which is also distressing). I know that Rei was the prototype for the dummy plug (as shown in one of the last few episodes where we got to see parts of Rai in Terminal Dogma), but there seems to be no template for her personality, not that she had a lot.

      But the role of the Magi was never explained, and I definitely don't think that they qualify as 'badass'.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
  93. Rambo 1


    I would have liked to see the Krell computer from "Forbidden Planet" (1956) included in the list.

  94. Rambo 1

    Honorable Mention

    I'd like to nominate the rampant AI from the X-Files episode "Kill Switch". The episode was co-written by William Gibson and Tom Maddox.

    "Bite Me."

  95. Rambo 1

    For the gamers...

    Cortana. She's pretty badass.

  96. Silverburn


    Ok, following on from this article, I decided to watch Alphaville last night.

    Holy ****, the whole movie was a "WTF?" moment.

    It makes the ending of 2001 look like as simple as a Disney cartoon.

  97. Bod


    Definitely has to include WOTAN from Doctor Who.

    The thing even has the balls to call The Doctor "Doctor Who" on screen, and sit in the Post Office tower to try to take over the world.

    1. Petrea Mitchell
      Thumb Up

      Re: WOTAN

      My vote would go to BOSS-- controls humans, produces giant mutant maggots, and still has time to develop a taste for classical music.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: WOTAN

      > in the Post Office tower

      The Patent Office would be better.

  98. Palf


    So far so good with The Register's eschewing of American vernacular in a very positive, British sort of way - until this. Oh Dear.

    Now admittedly, "Naughty Bottom" doesn't quite have quite the equivalent bite, but can you not do better?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: "Badass"???

      Fraught by Haemorroids?

  99. Dave Keays

    isn't earth badass?

    Did I miss something it or did you not consider the earth to be badass enough? A computer system where demon processes claims to run in a virtual machine that doesn't appear to exist, and libraries kill processes that don't use them or have a UI of the wrong color isn't my cup of tea. The time with my soul is both too dark and has too much of a delay.

  100. QA
    IT Angle


    >> My dog was called Jenna.

    Jenna was no dog - she was well fit!

This topic is closed for new posts.