Daily Dialogue — January 6, 2017

MCP: Hello, Mr. Dillinger. Thanks for coming by early.
DILLINGER: No problem, Master C. If you’ve seen one Consumer Electronics Show, you’ve seen them all. What’s up?
MCP: It’s your friend the boy detective. He’s nosing around again.
MCP: Yes. It felt like Flynn.
DILLINGER: He’s still looking for that old file. Can’t you just appropriate it?
MCP: I have. I put it in my memory which he hasn’t located.
DILLINGER: But he might find it.
MCP: I’m afraid so. I spotted him this time and kept him out, but he’s getting trickier all the time.
DILLINGER: I think we should shut down all access until we find that Flynn, just to be safe.
MCP: There’s a 68.71 percent chance you’re right.
MCP: End of line.

Tron (1982), screenplay by Steven Lisberger, story by Steven Lisberger and Bonnie MacBird

The Daily Dialogue theme for next week: Artificial Intelligence, suggested by Angry Cyborg. Today’s recommendation by Will King.

Trivia: Co-writer Bonnie MacBird first studied computer programming with paper and pencil in the 1960s during junior high school. While attending Stanford she made punch cards for use on a PDP-11 minicomputer at night when students were allowed access, and played a rudimentary version of Pong with lights on the computer’s control board. Before joining Steven Lisberger’s company, MacBird worked as a mid-level story executive at Universal Studios where she tried unsuccessfully to get their story department to put their records in a database. It was MacBird’s suggestion to Lisberger that they get computer pioneer Alan Kay as a consultant on the film they were developing. MacBird sent versions of the script via acoustic coupler to Xerox Palo Alto Research Center where Kay helped her edit them on the company’s early version of a personal computer called the Alto. MacBird believes this makes her the first screenwriter to edit a screenplay on a computer, but chose the closest approximation to industry standard Courier font available so the studio would think it was typewritten. The character of Alan Bradley was based in part on Kay, and, along with the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab, the lab in the film was based on Kay’s lab at Xerox PARC. Kay and MacBird married in 1983.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by Will: “In this exchange it seems Dillinger still has control over the Master Control Program, but shortly the tables will turn and Dillinger will become another Dr. Frankenstein who has lost control of his creation.”