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back to article Digital deviants: The many MAD COMPUTERS of Doctor Who

The Doctor has always made use of a range of remarkable technologies in his travels, including the Tardis, his Sonic Screwdriver and a whole host of homebrewed devices and contraptions. But there’s one area of technology that he seems to have trouble with, and that’s computers. Specifically, apart from his own “mobile computer …

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Anonymous Coward

The Green Death has a lovely cliffhanger to one of the episodes:

"You disappoint me, Doctor. I should have thought you'd have guessed. I am the BOSS. I'm all around you. Exactly. I am the computer."

Just wonderful.

A few years ago Mark Gatiss wrote and starred in this for the DVD release.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiZI-B7fxUw

Great to see so many of the cast involved.

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Happy

>> But then, when you're looking at stocking your data center with systems built by someone called the Shadow, who lives someplace called the Planet of Evil and who claims to be a servant of the Black Guardian, maybe you should get a second quote. <<

We did, we tried Microsoft, Google and Sony. So we went with "the Shadow from the Planet of Evil" because at least he was upfront about it.

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Adverts too!

And of course, there was the series of adverts for Prime computers by Tom Baker and his assistant (then wife):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJeu3LCo-6A

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FAIL

Re: Adverts too!

Yeah, and look what happened to Prime Inc! :-)

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Re: Adverts too!

Ah, that brings back memories. Saw those when they were screened at Boskone sometime in the early '80s.

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Mushroom

I've visited the BOSS!

at least it was a real 'computer' factory!

http://www.doctorwholocations.net/locations/anacompmagnetics

they used to make mag-tape and EDS packs - old RCA plant.

apparently the constant drizzle removes a lot of dust from the air, making it a good place to manufacture magnetic media.

I did visit them here before they were demolished and moved to Abertillery!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I've visited the BOSS!

"I did visit them here before they were demolished and moved to Abertillery!"

Did you dress up as a milkman or cleaning lady to gain entry?

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Oracle really don't need help

"The Oracle, quite naturally, didn’t take kindly to that description at all and ordered the Doctor destroyed. And you thought your Oracle support contract was bad"

Please don't give Larry ideas, they are evil enough already

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The Doctor needs the BOFH as a companion

Although who gets to be the Alpha Male in that partnership could lead to much hilarity

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Anonymous Coward

The matrix, oracle? didn't someone do a film with similar concepts once? :)

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Happy

I know it doesn't count but…

Orac from Blake's 7 has to be the best TV computer: infallible but cranky and fortunately with an off-switch!

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Re: I know it doesn't count but…

not completely infallible, it failed to correctly identify that stone that reflects back what the perceiver is +10%

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Coat

dr. moon and...

I thought the Silence in the Library was really very good for the of planet backup strategy ;-)

The "flesh-bots" were inspired for anyone that still has to trawl the high street...

P.

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Best computers

The best computers (Ok robots, we are are stretching definitions here) were the clockwork robots from the girl in the fireplace episode.

To be fair they were sent by the ship who decided to use the original crew to make up for the lack of spare parts.

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Alien

Who needs computers?

"... it could turn the planet’s people into helpless slaves..."

That's been achieved by just a few bankers...

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Re: Who needs computers?

You misplelled "a small wunch of bankers".

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I think assumptions need to be put aside, have you ever called an IT tech to look at a PC that is working perfectly well? Thought not, and a TV episode where the doctor walked in on a well working computer would be remarkable short I am guessing.

Episode start; "Hi, I'm The Doctor, I've come to fix your mad computer. What' it's not mad? Goodbye then!" Episode end!

Using the anthropic principle as guide its obvious that you only ever see the doctor fighitng mad computers because they are the only sort of computer that needs fighting.

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I've been called to look at a PC that's working perfectly well.

In fact, many of the calls I received back when I was in support were due entirely to the user's simply not knowing how to use the computer.

Come to think of it, that actually might make a somewhat original episode -- spend almost the whole show trying to fight a computer, only to find out that the computer's fine; the user just clicked on the wrong shortcut...

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Re: I've been called to look at a PC that's working perfectly well.

"So next time you see a dialogue box saying 'Are you sure you want me to go insane and try to enslave humanity?', CLICK NO!"

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Anonymous Coward

Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday

This little-known stage play from the '70s featured a mad computer which the Doctor did successfully blow up by using the liar paradox. While being menaced by giant crab-things, no less.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday

The Liar's Paradox indicates that truth is a process, not an absolute - and that the worthiness of the 'truth' can be determined by the usefulness of the process.

For example, the sentence 'This is not true' is of itself, absurd. However, if you were to use the iterative process it implies to come up with a solution to some other problem, or a new way of understanding etc. - it could be thought of to be 'True' in the sense that it has proven itself to be a useful process.

However, if the process simply results in an endlessly fruitless loop of introspection it could be thought of to be 'False' in the sense that it's a useless process (unless your intention is to drive a computer to destruct itself that is - in which case it's true again :) )

Why Paris? Haven't seen her for a while, that's all.

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Re: Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday

a mad computer which the Doctor did successfully blow up by using the liar paradox

Yes, but I think he's still behind James T. Kirk in the "talking computers to death" rankings. Still, there's naught wrong with high explosives as a debugging tool.

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Re: Still, there's naught wrong with high explosives as a debugging tool.

...

End User: "Yes, I've turned it off and on again."

BOFH: "Have you tried blowing it up?"

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Boffin

What about the TARDIS itself?

I mean, in "The Edge of Destruction", a stuck switch has it hurtling back to the Big Bang to be obliterated, and the only way it's able to communicate this error condition is to show cryptic images on the video screen and induce psychosis in the passengers. What Gallifreyan BOFH came up with that interface??

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Re: What about the TARDIS itself?

the only way it's able to communicate this error condition is to show cryptic images on the video screen and induce psychosis in the passengers

And the Straight Line of the Week award goes to...

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Joke

So it wasn't Al Gore

both WOTAN and BOSS were first with the idea of connecting the world's computers and enslaving humanity with mind control.

What? We're not mind-controlled? Have you looked at anyone with a smartphone?

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Anonymous Coward

Doctor Victorian Steampunk Who ..

When they were rebooting the series did they have to include all that Victorian ironmongery in the Tardis control panel.

--

posted anonymously for obvious reasons ...

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SVV
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The maddest real computer

Must be the BBC Micro stuck inside the Tardis console that displayed the "rotating triangles" screensaver type program on a screen, obviously used to subliminally advertise the capabilities of this excellent machine to a generation of schoolchildren and interest them in a future career in computer programming.

Can't have been much use to entertain the crew on a long Tardis flight (how long does a space / time machine take to travel through spacetime? We have never been told in the programme, but I guess special relativity is too primitive to tell us the correct answer....). They should have loaded up the hacked version of Chuckie Egg where you got 255 lives instead, as that kept the whole class well entertained for the entire hour long computer studies lessons back in the mid eighties.

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Re: The maddest real computer

I vaguely recall the Doctor (probably Tom Baker era, since that is 'my era') explaining once that the time-space transit is instantanious, but the TARDIS makes it seem to take longer to those inside for the sake of their sanity.

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Re: The maddest real computer

More for the sake of a toilet break. I can just imagine, finally defeating the Vogons and getting into the tardis for a toilet break, shower and a long nap only to arrive instantaneously at the next mad computer (and yes I know Vogons didn't exist in the Dr Who universe, but it's time we had a mashup!)

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Sir

"their IT certifications aren’t worth the psychic paper they’re printed on"

ftfy

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Anonymous Coward

RBS?

Did the Doctor ever do a stint at The Royal Bank of Scotland?

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