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back to article Computer Chess: Geek, gaming and retro-tech movie of the year

Surely no normal person would ever want to spend an hour and a half, let alone a whole weekend, in the company of beardy-weirdy 1970s computer nerds as they challenge their chess programs to beat all comers – and maybe, one day, even a human too? Director Andrew Bujalski must be rather keen to do so, because it’s the subject of …

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Coat

Teletype

The bottom picture on page 1 ("even Teletype machines get a look in") does not show a Teletype. However, the bottom picture on page 3 does show a Lear Siegler ADM-3 "glass teletype".

When you're writing for geeks, it's important to get these details right :-)

// roll of yellow paper in the pocket

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Re: Teletype

I think I might still have an ADM-3A in storage... not seen it in 20 odd years though, remember getting it from a bootsale back in the 80's.

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Re: Teletype

"When you're writing for geeks, it's important to get these details right :-)"

Indeed, like the size of a PDP-11. The smallest PDP-11s fit inside a VT-100 enclosure, and so, by the standards of minicomputers of the time, weren't large at all.

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Re: Teletype

Somewhere in here

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Indeed, Steve the Cynic (was: Re: Teletype)

Here's a gander at mine:

http://www.computermuseum.li/Testpage/Heathkit-DEC-H11.htm

First booted in early 1978 ...

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Thumb Down

There is a world of difference between a review of a film...

...and a summary of the story. This, unfortunately, is a bit too much of the latter - and it also seems to me to have rather too many spoilers in it.

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Re: There is a world of difference between a review of a film...

I stopped reading halfway, which is probably too late as that'll be half the story and the half the best jokes gone.

Poor show, El Reg.

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Re: There is a world of difference between a review of a film...

Spoilers? On a film about the '70s-'80s? Really?

I've never heard of him and I'm in the US, but the "review" certainly has piqued my interest. It would take El Reg carefully explaining that it's not another those-goofy-geeks movie to do so.

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Anonymous Coward

Spoilers? You could use this as pass notes for an exam rather than watch the film itself. Maybe then the article would have simply fit into two pages instead of one. Or are El Reg article writes paid by the word now?

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What do you think?

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Childcatcher

Pretty sure these guys are guilty of developing in Erlang, too.

For another film of some interest, the esteemed commentariat may avail themselves to a review of Particle Fever.

Thus concludeth my contribution.

Oh no, wait..

1) Do we get to see an IBM 5100?

2) Those convex glass tubes with glowing text carets... I am getting flashbacks... NURSE!!!

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Nobody thought in 1980 that a chess program on a micro could beat a grandmaster.

Ken Thompson's Belle used custom hardware made of LS TTL chips controlled by a LSI-11 mini ("It is portable, but one has to be dedicated to take it anywhere"), while Robert Hyatt's Cray Blitz ran on a - shock - a Cray supercomputer. Outside rapid play, none of them could beat a GM, and it wasn't until 1983 that something running on a micro beat a Master in tournament conditions.

Of course, they all expected to beat the world champion in five years...

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Re the photo on page 1 of the review...

Are you absolutely sure that it's not Jarvis Cocker playing a young Bill Gates?

Other than that, thanks El Reg - probably wouldn't have heard of this without the article and will look out for it.

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Windows

Der Steppenwolf

Chess theme. Actions in the social sphere as chess moves. Analytical meets emotional.

Hermann Hesse springs to mind, somewhere between Der Steppenwolf and Das Glasperlenspiel.

I shall have to try to see this....

Nice change here by the way. Keep 'em coming.

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Re: Der Steppenwolf

Also seems related to "The Player of Games", by the late and missed Iain M. Banks. I always thought that Banks had inspired himself in Hesse's works.

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Re: Der Steppenwolf

@mephistro

Never read any Banks. Might need to rectify that defect.

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Happy

Prawn takes horsey

Holly could have taken them all!

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Ahhh! That takes me back. The big box in two of the pictures is a Cromemco System Three which was the best engineered machine of it day. Pity it's not connected to anything - not even the mains.

I've got one in my attic, but wouldn't dare switch it on now unless the fire brigade were already en-route. Linear PSU featuring huge transformer, diode bridge rectifier, feeding into flower pot sized electrolytics that might go off like hand-grenades

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>>a Cromemco System Three which was the best engineered machine of it day.

I appreciate a proper nerd with the best of them but if that's a well engineered system:

>>wouldn't dare switch it on now unless the fire brigade were already en-route. Linear PSU featuring huge transformer, diode bridge rectifier, feeding into flower pot sized electrolytics that might go off like hand-grenades

I'll point you at Stonehenge (it still tells the time - with a large granularity I'll grant you), Iron Bridge (no need to say why), Brunel's railway bridge over Tamar in Plymouth (expansion bearings seized decades ago, still takes trains). The entire London Underground. My house. ESA. My grandad.

Need I go on ...

Cheers

Jon

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Just watched it, what a waste of an hour and a half.

Either it was trying to be way too arty or it was just the output from a random number generator.

Seriously. What the hell was that film about? Was there any point to it whatsoever? Did it have anything valid or original to say at all?

Poor acting, no plot WHATSOEVER, just a bunch of scenes that make you feel awkward with a very tenuous link between them.

** SPOILER ALERT ***

And as to the subject matter - are they trying to induce nerd rage or what? Computers that have seemingly achieved sentience but are told to stop asking questions. Computers deciding to only want to play humans, when they would have no way of knowing which was which. A computer that asks "What is the highest value?", to which the reply is a text string "INFINITY". Well either the computer will already have a concept of infinity , or not - the string "INFINITY" isn't gonna help dick all in that respect. All these things just make no sense if you have any understanding of computers, and especially the subject matter (AI).

Go watch Zardoz instead - it may be just as shit, but it will make more sense.

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Don't bother watching this sober. If I'd have randomly caught this on late night TV after a particularly heavy session in the pub, I would likely have thought it to be the-best-movie-evaaar. But stone cold sober on a Saturday afternoon. Notsomuch.

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