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WarGames Magazine Identified

By Michael Walden - 2013-12-17

Fig. 1 - On screen title of the WarGames movie

Fig. 1 - On screen title of the WarGames movie


As per Jargon File[1] definition number seven of Hacker[2]: "7. One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations.", I have performed a real world hack of the movie "WarGames[3][4]." Through the use of my knowledge of computer magazines, my sharp eyes, and other technical knowledge, I have overcome the limited amount of information available in the video content of WarGames and with complete certainty identified the exact name and issue number of the magazine read on screen by David L. Lightman in WarGames.

On seeing WarGames for the first time in the 1980s, I wondered which magazine it was. Later, after seeing it on TV and on VHS/DVD, the same question kept nagging at me. I believed that I would one day get to the bottom of this matter. I correctly assumed that the magazine was a real world magazine with a fake advertisement added to it. Through some effort and persistence I finally achieved my goal on 2013-02-24 at 5:30pm.

I present this here to describe what I did and to make this information publicly known. Others may have had the same question and I hope they appreciate knowing the answer. I also give thanks to the resources available on the net that enabled me to find the solution.


Below, in figures 2 through 12, are more images from WarGames organized chronologically. Some of the images and transcribed text are provided to put things into context and to aid future web searches by others.

Fig. 2 - Dinner table scene

Fig. 2 - Dinner table scene

At about 24 minutes into the film David L. Lightman is shown at the dinner table. Barely visible at David's right is a magazine. As you will see below in figure 16, it is open to p. 130 and p. 131.

Fig. 3 - Inside p. 126, p. 127

Fig. 3 - Inside p. 126, p. 127

David then sees an advertisement in the magazine from a computer game manufacturer (p. 127) that catches his eye. It says "You will have to wait until next Christmas...".

The opposing page (p. 126) provides me with the following clues. The partial title of an article is "...deas." After much thought, I concluded that the second column on that page is titled "Do Something A Little Different." That page also features a figure that looks like a Spirograph[5] drawing. I recalled seeing many similar images on computers created in a programming language called Logo[6].

Fig. 4 - Turn p. 127 to p. 128

Fig. 4 - Turn p. 127 to p. 128

As David turns the page of the game advertisement, the partial title "Logo Id..." of the opposing page can be seen. When combined with the other partial title from figure 3, the next clue is revealed: "Logo Ideas." That fits in well with the image on that page, in figure 3, which looks like it comes from Logo.

Fig. 5 - Inside p. 128, p. 129 (foldout closed)

Fig. 5 - Inside p. 128, p. 129 (foldout closed)

David then sees "...For the best kept secret in the world of computer games..." on page 128.

Fig. 6 - Inside p. 129 (foldout open)

Fig. 6 - Inside p. 129 (foldout open)

After opening the foldout on page 129 he reveals "Things will never be the same.".

Fig. 7 - Inside p. 129 PROTOVISION

Fig. 7 - Inside p. 129 PROTOVISION

Just below that, he sees "A quantum leap in computer games from Protovision." and an address:

Protovision Inc
2407 Rogers Blvd.
Sunnyvale, California 95051

With that information in hand, David goes upstairs to track down the telephone number of the game manufacturer (311-555-8632). This of course leads to the rest of the movie in which David accidentally almost starts World War III.

Fig. 8 - Back Cover

Fig. 8 - Back Cover

On his way upstairs, we see another clue to the magazine's identity on the back cover page which says "REMEMBER: Elephant Memory Systems "Never Forgets."" This distinctly brought to mind advertisements I recalled seeing for Elephant Memory Systems[7] (by Leading Edge Products, Inc.[8]) brand of floppy diskettes.

One additional piece of trivia that relates to this advertisement is the fact that the floppy disk that David retrieves from his bedroom shelf, in the first bedroom scene, and removes from its sleeve and sticks into the left hand floppy disk drive, is an Elephant Memory Systems brand disk. I do not believe that this was an intentional match, but rather a coincidence. Elephant Memory Systems disks were quite popular in the early 1980s.

Fig. 9 - Front Cover #1

Fig. 9 - Front Cover #1

Here in figure 9, and in the following figures through figure 12, are images that show the front cover of the magazine. None of these images are clear enough to directly read the magazine's title. When taking all of them into consideration, I figured it had to be "Creative Computing[9]." The two words of the title are of the correct size relationship, first word shorter than the second one. Both words also seem to start with the lower case letter "c" character. And I distinctly recall Creative Computing magazines having the diagonal ribbon / banner across the upper right corner of the cover page. Another clue here is that the front cover of the Creative Computing issue I am looking for is yellow with a red ribbon / banner. That is significant since each issue was done in different colors.

Fig. 10 - Front Cover #2

Fig. 10 - Front Cover #2

Fig. 11 - Front Cover #3

Fig. 11 - Front Cover #3

Fig. 12 - Front cover #4 - zoomed in

Fig. 12 - Front cover #4 - zoomed in

With all of the above clues in hand, I began searching on the net to see if I could find out what the on screen magazine was. I started searching many years ago and could not get access to sufficient information to pinpoint the answer.

I was eventually able to locate a site that helped further my efforts. Kevin Savetz's Creative Computing magazine archive[10] site was and still is a work in progress where Kevin is converting the print versions of Creative Computing magazines into fully searchable online text content. As part of this work, he created several indexes, one of which is an articles index[11] to all of the articles in the issues he has. By using that index, I was able to determine that the "Logo Ideas" articles were indeed in Creative Computing magazine, and were written by Robert Lawler. I then went to the authors index[12] on Kevin's site and selected Robert Lawler. This produced a list of all Creative Computing issues containing articles by Robert Lawler[13]. So, I now had a list of the 10 issues in which I could find the specific "Logo Ideas" article featured on screen in WarGames.

Unfortunately, Kevin did not and still does not have all of the text content of those 10 issues online. I assumed that it was pending and waited patiently for it to appear online.

In the meantime, I did some searching for Robert Lawler and found a web page by him[14] that confirmed the correctness of the "Do Something a Little Different" title I mentioned below figure 3.

To my surprise and delight on 2013-02-24, while searching the web for more related information, I discovered that the Internet Archive[15] had recently added Creative Computing magazine scans[16] to their archive. Also surprising was that this collection of magazine scans was organized and conducted by Kevin Savetz.

At that point, all that was left to do was to view each of the 10 magazine front covers until I arrived at the correct one...

Without further ado, at long last (30 years!), here is the exact magazine from WarGames:

Fig. 13 - Full front Cover of the magazine issue used in WarGames

Fig. 13 - Full front Cover of the magazine issue used in WarGames

Here is the front cover of Creative Computing Vol. 8 No. 9 (September 1982) which could be seen with difficulty in figure 9, figure 10, figure 11, and figure 12.

Even more exciting is the fact that you can now read the entire magazine by downloading it[17], or by reading it online[18].

It is also interesting to note that the magazine is a September issue. A given month's issue can usually be purchased, depending on the publication, up to one month in advance. So, somewhere between the beginning of August and the end of September is when the magazine could have been purchased in the real world. In the movie, David is seen attending school. September 1st is usually the start of the academic year (after summer break) in most school districts in the United States. With that in mind, David's character likely would have gotten the magazine in September and the time of the movie's setting would likely be sometime in September.

Fig. 14 - Inside p. 126, p. 127

Fig. 14 - Inside p. 126, p. 127

As can be seen, the author of the "Logo Ideas" article is Robert Lawler. Additionally, I was correct on the "Do Something A Little Different" title.

If you desire, you can read "Logo Ideas" and the following pages online[19] in higher quality than presented here.

The real advertisement that appeared in the magazine on page 127 is for "JADE Computer products[20]" of "4901 W. Rosecrans, Hawthorne, CA 90250" at the following telephone numbers: "800-421-5500," "800-262-1710," and "213-973-7707."

Fig. 15 - Inside p. 128, p. 129

Fig. 15 - Inside p. 128, p. 129

Fig. 16 - Inside p. 130, p. 131

Fig. 16 - Inside p. 130, p. 131

The upper right hand quadrant of page 130, and the upper left hand quadrant of page 131 is barely visible in figure 2.

Fig. 17 - Back Cover

Fig. 17 - Back Cover

Here is the back cover advertisement that could be seen with difficulty in figure 8.

For the sake of completeness, here is the full text of that advertisement:

Elephant Memory Systems "Never Forgets."
 Says who? Says ANSI.
 Specifically subcommittee X3B8 of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) says so. The fact is all Elephant™ floppies meet or exceed the specs required to meet or exceed all their standards.
 But just who is "subcommittee X3B8" to issue such pronouncements?
 They're a group of people representing a large, well-balanced cross section of disciplines — from academia, government agencies, and the computer industry. People from places like IBM, Hewlett-Packard, 3M, Lawrence Livermore Labs, The U.S. Department of Defense, Honeywell and The Association of Computer Programmers and Analysts. In short, it's a bunch of high-caliber nitpickers whose mission, it seems, in order to make better disks for consumers, is also to make life miserable for everyone in the disk-making business.
 How? By gathering together periodically (often, one suspects, under the full moon) to concoct more and more rules to increase the quality of flexible disks. Their most recent rule book runs over 20 single-spaced pages — listing, and insisting upon — hundreds upon hundreds of standards a disk must meet in order to be blessed by ANSI. (And thereby be taken seriously by people who take disks seriously.)
 In fact, if you'd like a copy of this formidable document, for free, just let us know and we'll send you one. Because once you know what it takes to make an Elephant for ANSI ...
 We think you'll want us to make some Elephants for you.
Distributed Exclusively by Leading Edge Products, Inc., 225 Turnpike Street, Canton, Massachusetts 02021
Call: toll-free 1-800-343-6833; or in Massachusetts call collect (617) 828-8150. Telex 951-624.


I would like to take a moment to thank Mr. Kevin Savetz[21] for all of his time and effort in preserving the content of Creative Computing magazines. Without his help, this web page and the information it conveys would not exist.

I would also like to thank Mr. Brewster Kahle[22] for his efforts in creating the Internet Archive. It serves as an amazing tool when researching the history of the web as well as for researching all kinds of other media stored there.

This web page serves as an excellent example of how unexpected good things can come from the data stored at the Internet Archive. It is an invaluable tool that deserves our support. Please donate to them in the form of money or possibly via additional content and help make them a better place for all of us.

Lastly, I would like to thank Mr. Jason Scott[23], who is not directly related to this web page's content, but is an important part of the Internet Archive. He is helping to preserve software of all kinds at the Internet Archive. I hope to make some interesting discoveries in that content in the future.


All text content on this page is copyright © 2013 Michael Walden.
All WarGames movie images (Fig. 1 - Fig. 12) copyright © MGM / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.
All Creative Computing magazine text and images (Fig. 13 - Fig. 17) on this page are copyrighted by their respective publishers.


If you wish to refer to a figure or section on this page you can directly link to it via one of the following anchor links.
Fig. 1, Fig. 2, Fig. 3, Fig. 4, Fig. 5, Fig. 6, Fig. 7, Fig. 8, Fig. 9, Fig. 10, Fig. 11, Fig. 12, Fig. 13, Fig. 14, Fig. 15, Fig. 16, Fig. 17
Top, Introduction, Description, Thanks, Copyrights, Anchors, Cited Links, WarGames Links, Comments, Bottom

Cited Links

[1] The Jargon File (The New Hacker's Dictionary)

[2] The Jargon File - hacker

[3] WarGames - Wikipedia (Says Release date: May 7, 1983)

[4] MGM Studios - WarGames (Says U.S. Release date: June 3, 1983)

[5] Spirograph - Wikipedia

[6] Logo (programming language) - Wikipedia

[7] Elephant Memory Systems - Wikipedia

[8] Leading Edge (Hardware) Products, Inc.

[9] Creative Computing (magazine) - Wikipedia

[10] Creative Computing Magazine - Classic Computer Magazine Archive by Kevin Savetz

[11] Index of Creative Computing Articles

[12] Index of Creative Computing Authors

[13] Index of Creative Computing articles by Robert Lawler (10 issues)

[14] Learning and Computing ©2004, Robert W. Lawler - Do Something a Little Different (Archived)

[15] Internet Archive

[16] Internet Archive - Creative Computing Magazine : Free Texts

[17] Internet Archive - Creative Computing Vol. 8 No. 9 (September 1982) : Free Download

[18] Internet Archive - Creative Computing Vol. 8 No. 9 (September 1982) : View

[19] Internet Archive - Logo ideas. by Robert Lawler (p. 126)

[20] S100 Computers - Jade Computer products - History

[21] Kevin Savetz

[22] Brewster Kahle - Wikipedia

[23] ASCII by Jason Scott

WarGames Links

The "Wargames IMSAI" by Thomas 'Todd' Fischer

The HP 9845 Project - Screen Art: War Games by Ansgar Kückes

Michael Egan's Useless [hacker|cracker|computer-criminal|*] Movie Trivia: War Games

Matthew Broderick (David L. Lightman) - Wikipedia

Ally Sheedy (Jennifer K. Mack) - Wikipedia

John Wood (English actor) (Dr. Stephen W. Falken) - Wikipedia

Eddie Deezen (Malvin)

The Official Barry Corbin Site (General Beringer) - WarGames (1983)

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