What The Terminator's on-screen vision code really means

Typically, computer stuff in film and tv looks like and is a whole bunch of gobbledygook. Getting someone to successfully look really cool while they're typing on the computer is a miracle. Usually, though, you get those really silly scenes from Swordfish and NCIS.

Ah, but what if the character is itself a computer? Can you get that to look cool? Terminator? Cool? Yes. And guess what, all those line of code scrolling alongside his vision? Someone analyzed them, and they actually add up to something, kinda. Well, they don't mean anything relevant to the plot, but they do give some background on computer knowledge from the time.

A wonderful bit of nerdy sleuthing from [Open source] revealed the following:

The video highlights one interesting finds, concerning graphics seen in the T-800's vision. They appear to match the output of various code listings and articles in Nibble Magazine, specifically its September 1984 issue. One example spotted was a compass rose, spawned from an Apple Basic listing. it was a basic quiz to help teach children to understand the compass. Another graphic appears to be cribbed from the same issue in the MacPaint Patterns section.

The weird thing is that the original film came out in October 1984 — just a month after that article would have hit the news stands. It suggests perhaps someone involved with the movie was also involved or had access to an early copy of Nibble Magazine — or that the examples in the magazine were just rehashed from some other earlier source.

Code that regularly flickers in the left of the T-800s vision is just 6502 machine code. It's apparently just a random hexdump from an Apple II's memory. At other times, there's also 6502 assembly code on screen which includes various programmer comments still intact. There's even some code cribbed from the Apple II DOS 3.3 RAM Disk driver.

Lewin Day, Hackaday