The idea that a computer hacker could inadvertently start World War Three was seen by many as preposterous back in 1983. But after watching WarGames, the Hollywood movie starring Matthew Broderick about that very prospect, Ronald Reagan became concerned about such a danger. And when he asked a general about the likelihood of a similar attack on the real U.S. military, the answer certainly didn’t quash his fears.
Directed by John Badham, WarGames first hit cinemas in 1983. The Cold War thriller saw a pre-Ferris Bueller Matthew Broderick play a computer hacker named David Lightman. He stumbles across a military supercomputer called War Operation Plan Response (WOPR), which is designed to estimate the potential consequences of a nuclear conflict.
Of course, this being a Hollywood movie and all, WOPR doesn’t quite work as planned. Indeed, after Lightman begins to toy with it, thinking that it’s nothing more than a military-themed video game, the system goes dangerously awry. Unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy, the computer goes into meltdown.