Personal Computer References in Pop Culture


Star Trek IV

Hackers

Futurama

The Simpsons

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Personal computers (PCs) first appeared in the early 1970s. Gradually, PCs entered "Pop Culture", generally meaning that artists began making references to PCs in popular arts, such as television, music, and film. This Web site is an attempt to document all pop culture references to PCs.

Defining what constitutes a pop culture reference is not entirely straightforward. My general guidelines when considering a reference are:

  • the medium itself is considered a popular part of past or current culture (TV show, movie, book, magazine article, toy, coin, postage stamp, etc.)
  • the artist (creator, writer, etc.) specifically chose a PC when some other item could have been used
  • the artist specifically chose a PC because of something special about personal computers
  • the product is targeted at the general public, not personal computer enthusiasts primarily
  • the reference is a minor or secondary part of the product, not the main focus
I feel that a pop culture reference is not something where the PC is the main focus of the medium, such as a news article, a documentary film, etc.
The marketing strategy of "product placement" interferes with the motive for the appearance or mention of a PC, but the end result is a reference to PCs.

See my Chronology of Personal Computer for a more complete list of all things PC.

Your contributions to this list will be gladly accepted. Be as specific as possible as to dates and how the reference appeared. Images should include any appropriate photo credits. Send me email at .

start-1995 1996-1999 2000-2001 2002-2003 2004-2005 2006-2007 2008-2009 2010-end

June 3, 1983

MGM/UA Entertainment releases the film WarGames to theaters in the USA. The main character uses his IMSAI 8080 computer at his house to connect to a mainframe computer by using his phone.
(Copyright 1983 MGM/UA Entertainment)

June 8, 1983

Paramount Pictures releases the film Trading Places to theaters in the USA.
  • A couple of computers are used with monochrome monitors to see the prices of oranges for that day.
  • An advertisement for a Macintosh computer is on the back page of the Wall Street Journal.

January 5, 1984

Netherlands Antilles issues a 45-cent postage stamp depicting a personal computer in making newspapers.

February 15, 1985

Universal Pictures releases the film The Breakfast Club to theaters in the USA.
  • Several computers can be seen in the library, which are off the entire time.
  • In the beginning of the film, you can see a computer room with notice "Hackers will be expelled".

June 11, 1986

Paramount Pictures releases the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off to theaters in the USA. An IBM PC personal computer appears in a bedroom and in an office.
(Copyright 1986 Paramount Pictures)

November 26, 1986

Paramount Pictures releases the film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home to theaters in the USA. An Apple Computer Macintosh Plus is used to graphically depict a complex metal formula. A person from the future who travels back to 1986 tries to talk into the mouse of the computer.
(Copyright 1986 Paramount Pictures)

1988

The movie Betrayed is released to theaters. An Amiga computer can be seen in the movie.

1988

In the film What Waits Below, Commodore VIC-20 computers are shown as part of a secret transmitter.

1988

In the film Airplane II, Commodore VIC-20 computers are shown in an air traffic control center.

1988

In the TV show War of the Worlds, an Amiga monitor is shown.

1988

In the Disney film More Than Human, a Commodore Amiga 1000 computer is shown.

1988

In the film Prince of Darkness, a Commodore Amiga computer is shown.

1988

In the film Deep Obsessions, a Commodore 64 computer is shown.

1988

In the film The Princess Bride, a Commodore 64 computer is shown playing Accolade's Hardball game.

October 26, 1988

Netherlands Antilles issues a 115-cent + 55-cent semi-postage stamp for Youth Car Campaign, depicting a girl at a computer.

January 18, 1989

On the CBS television show Wiseguy, a Commodore Amiga A2000 computer is shown.

February 25, 1989

In the TV show Friday the 13th, a Commodore PET computer appears.

February 26, 1989

The ABC TV network airs the movie Get Smart Again. Appearing is an Amiga A1000 computer with 1080 monitor.

March 9, 1989

In the TV show Days of Our Lives, a Commodore 64 computer is shown.

June 16, 1989

Columbia Pictures releases the film Ghostbusters II to theaters in the US. A desktop personal computer is shown several times.

1989

On the PBS TV show Nova, entitled "The Strange New Science of Chaos", an Amiga computer appears.

November 22, 1989

MCA/Universal Pictures releases the film Back to the Future Part II to theaters in the USA. An original Apple Computer Macintosh appears in the window display of an antique store in the future.
(Copyright 1989 Universal Pictures)

1990

In the film Screwball Hotel, an Amiga 2000 computer appears.

1990

In an episode of TV show Alfred Hitchcock Presents, an Amiga 1000 computer and an Amiga 2000 computer appear.

1990

In the rock music video for the song "Rev. Jack's Roaming Cadillac Church" by Timbuk3, an Amiga 1000 computer appears.

October 4, 1990

The Fox Network airs the Beverly Hills 90210 TV show in the USA. The school newspaper room has several Macintosh computers.
(Copyright 1990 Spelling Television)

February 14, 1992

Paramount Pictures releases the film Wayne's World to theaters in the USA. A Commodore PET appears.
(Copyright 1992 Paramount Pictures )

September 9, 1992

Universal Pictures releases the film Sneakers to theaters in the USA.
  • A complete personal computer can be seen in an office.
  • A Multisync monitor displays a Windows VEditor application.
  • A small laptop computer is seen on a desk.

(Copyright 1992 Universal Pictures)

January 14, 1993

The Fox Broadcasting Company airs The Simpsons TV show in the US. A computer looking very much like a 1984 Apple Macintosh is shown.
(Copyright 1993 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

October 14, 1993

The Fox Broadcasting Company airs The Simpsons TV show in the US. Personal computers are shown, including using a telephone line for modem communications.
(Copyright 1993 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

December 10, 1993

Paramount Pictures releases the film Wayne's World 2 to theaters in the USA. A character in the film wears an Amiga Video Toaster t-shirt.
(Copyright 1993 Paramount Pictures)

February 17, 1994

The Fox Broadcasting Company airs The Simpsons TV show in the US. Appearing is a personal computer with keyboard and monitor.
(Copyright 1994 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

May 25, 1994

Paramount Pictures releases the film Beverly Hills Cop 3 to theaters in the USA. A personal computer appears, used to monitor the park. A personal computer is used in control of counterfeiting money.

July 20, 1994

Warner Bros. Pictures releases the film The Client to theaters in the USA. An IBM PS/2 system appears.
(Copyright 1994 Warner Bros. Pictures)

November 13, 1994

The Fox Broadcasting Company airs The Simpsons TV show in the US. A character writes "Beat up Martin." on a "Newton" handheld computer (with green apple and worm logo), which interprets the writing as "Eat up Martha.".
(Copyright 1994 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

November 14, 1994

New Caledonia issues a 95-franc postage stamp marking the 50th anniversary of ORSTOM, depicting a personal computer.

July 28, 1995

Columbia Pictures releases the film The Net to theaters in the USA.
  • The game Wolfenstein 3D is played/debugged on a Macintosh computer.
  • Several types of Apple Macintosh computers are used throughout the film.
  • Another computer shows a Windows screen with a to-do list.

(Copyright 1995 Columbia Pictures)

August 24, 1995

Maldive Islands issues a 30-l postage stamp depicting a woman at a personal computer.

September 15, 1995

United Artists releases the film Hackers to theaters in the US.
  • Various personal computers are used throughout the film to control television programming, a supercomputer, traffic lights, building lights, and more.
  • Apple Computer products appear (3.5-inch disk drive, portable computer, windowing software).

(Copyright 1995 United Artists Pictures)

September 17, 1995

The Fox Broadcasting Company airs The Simpsons TV show in the US. A stock sound "ta da" from Windows 3 is played when a DNA machine finds a match.

September 24, 1995

The Fox Broadcasting Company airs The Simpsons TV show in the US. A personal computer shows the "Flying Toasters" screen-saver.
(Copyright 1995 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

November 4, 1995

Thailand issues a 6-baht postage stamp for the World Agricultural and Industrial Exhibition, depicting a personal computer.

November 26, 1995

The Fox Broadcasting Company airs The Simpsons TV show in the US. A TV news anchorman says "don't forget to look for my new column in PC World magazine".
start-1995 1996-1999 2000-2001 2002-2003 2004-2005 2006-2007 2008-2009 2010-end


Other web pages of interest:
  • Chronology of Personal Computers
  • Disney References in Pop Culture
  • Video Game References in Pop Culture
  • Chevrolet Corvette References in Pop Culture
  • This Day in History

Last updated: 2011 August 6.
Copyright © 2006-2022 (email: ).
URL=https://pctimeline.info/pop
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