2001 : A Space Odyssey Easter Egg - Supercomputer 'HAL'

Incrementing each letter of the computer-name "HAL" gives you "IBM".

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Contributed By: Albert on 07-28-1999
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Eboreg Onxre writes:
This is a well-known modern myth. As Arthur C.Clarke has pointed out any number of times, HAL actually stands for "Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer" -- the fact that it happens to be ROT1 from IBM was sheer coincidence, and caused much embarrassment when it was spotted...
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Chuck writes:
Arthur C Clarke has denied that HAL was intended to hide the IBM name, but a follow up many years later was done on purpose; the creators of Microsofts Windows NT software were members of the original VMS team. VMS -> WNT !!
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Ed Ellers writes:
I'd guess that placing the HAL plant in Urbana is a reference to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which these days is the home of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the Center for Supercomputing Research and Development, and other activities in the field. (I don't know what they were doing in the early 1960s when 2001 was being written, but I suspect they had some computing research at the time. There are two real-life companies called HAL that deal with computing; one is HAL Computer Systems in Campbell, California (a Fujitsu company), which does not have a 9000 (yet) but does have a GP7000 series. Another actually is in Urbana -- this one is HAL Communications, which has been making digital radio communications gear since the 1970s.
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Docco writes:
Not to get off on a conversation about George Lucas in a Kubrick "2001: A Space Odyssey" area, but THX 1138 shows up in lots of Lucas things. Licence plate on a car in American Graffiti, it's the cell block that Han and Luke claim they are relocating Chewbacca from when they go to get Leia on Death Star. It even links to Steven Spielberg (Lucas good friend) in the form of Pinky and the Brain, where in the credits (I think on the Animaniacs opening) The Brain is writing on a chalk board, "THX=1138" for a math equation. Nuff said.
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This conversation can no longer serve any purpose. Goodbye.
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xanbo writes:
IBM was interested in advertising in movies around the time "2001" was filmed. Marlboro did this, and as a result Marlboro cigarettes are common in the early James Bond films. IBM had already laid the groundwork for sponsorship to "2001" before they learned it was about a computer going berserk and killing people. IBM pulled their funding once this was discovered. That is a fact, however there is speculation that the computer was changed from IBM to HAL as a subtle form of retaliation.
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applesauce writes:
If you look closely on one of the panels of the HAL computer, one of the first shots of it I believe, you can just make out the IBM logo emblazoned above one of the panels.
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KillerBob writes:
Not to burst your bubble, davin, but 2001 came out in 1969, and Starwars came out in 1976. Either "SW GL" was added later as a "special edition" feature, or SW refers to another author. It's also possible that THX1138, having come out in 1971 (was it '71 or '70?) was a nod to 2001.
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Foggy writes:
According to the 2001: A Space Odyssey book, HAL stands for Heuristically ALgorithmic computer. That's all I have to say.
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If you look in the background in Watto's junkyard, you can see a one man pod from the Discovery in it. It's colored green, but it really is a space pod! By the way, I'd really like to see a pic with the THX SW GL 1138 in it... I couln't notice it, not even on the 35mm print. And again, 2001 came out first!!
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donajos3 writes:
In the book 2010 when Dr. Chandra Is talking to SAL he mention that they are in Urbana, IL. If you know your history, IBM is from Urbana, IL.
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tlfreud writes:
Sorry, but IBM is not based in Urbana, IL. It is the most famous company ever to emerge from Armonk, NY.
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J_Nefarious writes:
Actually, the 425 area code thing is pure coincidence. The 425 prefix for the "greater east side" which includes Redmond, was added about sometime in the late eighties / early nineties. Before that the whole Seattle Tacoma area (including the greater east side) had the 206 area code.
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MacDave writes:
Like KBob says, THX 1138 was released to the public about two years after 2001 came out. But THX 1138:4EB (George Lucas' USC film school project, the basis for the 88 minute theatrical release) was completed in 1967 (so the title for his forthcoming film had already been chosen, it was not taken from the video screen in 2001). Unless someone working on 2001 (which took about 3 years to make) happened to catch GL's short in a private USC film school showing (and just decided to arbitrarily chop off the ':4EB') there is no connection between the two films. Nice try! No Biscuit.
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Ryan writes:
If you look at the screens that make up HAL, you can see the screen that says "COD" in bold letters on it and it also contains some smaller type which reads "THX SW GL 1138". THX 1138 is a great film by George Lucas which preceded his 2001 inspired Star Wars.
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Why has nobody noticed that within Microsoft's Windows NT, there is a architectural construct known as the Hardware Abstraction Layer?.. yes yes children... H.A.L. Oh Yawn.
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lmbarrelle writes:
THX1138 showed up in another George Lucas movie too, was it in Star Wars? Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King are both known for showing up in their movies somewheres, too.
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davin writes:
Hmmmm....THX SW GL 1138. Seems like THX-1138 (Lucas's first film) with SW and GL in between. SW = Star Wars and GL = George Lucas.
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steve66 writes:
HAL may be IBM but the area code for Microsoft in Redmond Washington is 425. Look at your phone as you punch it in and note that 425 is HAL!!!!
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Lyncazarian writes:
THX1118 Was Lucas's first ever movie.. it's plugged in ALL of his work.. it's .. well needless to say.. if you can find it.. a really funny movie (not up to George Lucas' standards by what we know him for today).. if you ever find it.
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In the words of a certain computer, "this conversation can no longer serve any purpose." (goodbye, dave)
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J-Dog writes:
The letters, H-A-L arre one letter ahead of I-B-M. Kubrick was insinuating that HAL is "one step ahead" of IBM. I know this is true because i read it in his biography
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