| Friday May 27th 2016

The Terminator was written in Cobol

Terminator code

This one is incredibly nerdy, but I think it fits my standards for anachronistic use of type in a movie. Besides, I just love it.

The Terminator cobol codeIn The Terminator (1984), a cybernetic assassin from the year 2029 is sent back in time to 1984 to kill the mother of the rebel leader who will eventually lead humans in victory in a war against the cyborgs, thereby preventing the rebel leader from being born and ensuring the cyborgs’ victory instead. Whatever. As we follow this killing machine on his relentless rampage, we are given short glimpses of what it’s like to see through the eyes of a cyborg.

In case you don’t recognize it (and, unless you are a regular Slashdot reader, why would you?), the highly technical looking computer readouts in his vision display are actually source code printouts for an Apple II+ program that ran in a computer magazine (Nibble) in the early 1980s. Plus, it looks like it was printed on a daisy-wheel printer. Also used were listings of COBOL programs. COBOL was once a popular computer language for writing accounting software.

I remember noticing the out-of-place computer code when I watched the movie for a second time back in 1984, but I always thought it was source code from the Atari Operating System (Atari used the same microprocessor as the Apple II series). A quick check with Google turned up the correct info. This bit of trivia seems to be well-known in certain circles.

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3 Responses to “The Terminator was written in Cobol”

  1. […] I do recall that after I watched “The Terminator” in 1984 I did comment with friends that it was funny that the code that was shown on the movie, as the code for the robot, was written in Cobol. I did recognize Cobol right away, and of course, the language was the most inappropriate for handling real time systems. Anyway. It took some time to find a confirmation of my memory, but I found it. It is here. […]

  2. th says:

    the code referred to in the image above is actually ASSEMBLER language. LDA refers to the load accumulator command where in the code above the accumulator is checked if it is less than the date moved to VTOC or greater than than VTOC or the end of the program etc.

    Close… as both COBOL and ASSEMBLER get compiled down into machine language where all instructions are represented by bits and bytes and is generally unreadable. Also, COBOL and ASSEMBLER are the mainstay of most mainframe legacy systems.

  3. rizal says:

    I found article in this website “The Terminator was written in Cobol”, there is a picture (still picture) from movie “The Terminator” (produced in 1984, starred by Arnold Schwarzenegger)accompanied the story. My client would like to use the picture for educational purpose. I want to know who’s belongs to the picture’s copyright?
    Please, I need your reply ASAP to rizal.alessi at yahoo dot com
    Best Regards,
    Rizal Alessi
    (Photo Researcher)

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