Happy Birthday, Star Wars!
Thirty years ago today, Star Wars -- one of the greatest movies ever made! -- debuted in movie theaters. Decades later, this film (the second I ever saw in a theater) remains one of my favorites. One reason why: It gets computers right.
Star Wars and the movies that followed depict many forms of technology that seem indistinguishable from magic (as sci-fi novelist Arthur C. Clarke would put it), but the computers, robots and other electronic gadgets usually aren't among them. In Star Wars, the Millennium Falcon's cockpit lights flicker until Han Solo smacks a control panel; R2-D2 almost gets his innards fried after mistaking a power outlet for a network port; an ill-chosen engineering shortcut leaves the Death Star vulnerable to an attack at just the right spot.
It may be a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but the bugs seem very up to the moment.
Star Wars even accurately portrays tech-industry customer service at its worst. Right after Luke Skywalker's Uncle Owen buys a used droid from the Jawas, this robot breaks down and starts spewing smoke -- but the Jawas (the closest thing to eBay resellers in the Star Wars universe) initially balk at letting him exchange the busted hardware for a functioning unit. Sounds like a few electronics-retail transactions that I've heard of...
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