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Experience the WOPR for Yourself — Relive WarGames as David Lightman

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  tech telecom

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If you've ever clicked on the metadata at the top of each of my blog posts, among other things, you'll see a list of my favorite movies, and among them the 1983 movie WarGames. If everyone had a list like this, chances are you'd fine this title on a lot of them. It was extremely popular when it came out, and it continues to have a powerful hold on numerous people. References from the movie continue to permeate the fabric of society — both online and offline.

One of the most captivating parts of the 1983 film is the WOPR (War Operation Plan Response), an intelligent computer system that NORAD uses to help plan Cold War strategy, including determining how to best initiate or retaliate in nuclear war. David Lightman, the movie's protagonist, is a high school junior who skims by in school but excels at computers; rather than apply himself, he'd rather dial into the school's computer and change his grade himself. The impact of WarGames even extends into phreaking — the movie helped to popularize wardialers, causing some states, like Colorado to, more or less, outlaw them.

If you look online, there are a few WOPR simulators online - a couple YouTube videos demonstrate this. The initiative is nice, but the reality is they are extremely poor. To my surprise, there did not happen to be any authentic system available that more or less mirrored WOPR from the movie. So, what did I do? I did what every good programmer does — I spent the next three days writing 2,000 lines of code, the result of which was a fully fledged recreation of every computer system — not just the WOPR — used in the entire 114 minute movie.

For the first time, if you'd like to dial into a school computer to "check out your grades", book a complimentary ticket to Paris, or play Global Thermonuclear War with Joshua, now you can! Of course, just like in 1983, you'll need to use a terminal or terminal emulator to connect to WOPR. A full overview of the system and how to connect is available online to walk you through the system step by step — check it out on YouTube, and feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or concerns.

No need to merely watch the epic 1983 movie anymore — now you can actually relive it yourself! Come on, be honest wouldn't you like to play a game?

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