I saw Tron in the movie theater when it came out, 30 years ago today—July 9, 1982. I was almost ten years old and it blew me away. Like with many kids of my age, this movie—along with War Games—changed the course of my life. I’m not exaggerating.
Tron and War Games (1983) were the movies that truly got me into computers. At the time I was always at the arcade, playing video games. They sucked all my love and quarters. Back then I was fascinated by computers too, but only as a mean to play games.
It was Tron that made me look at those machines in a completely different way. I remember watching those 3D graphics in disbelief, in the dark of the movie theater. Bedazzled, my brain absorbed everything on the screen down to the last pixel. What the hell was that? Apart from Atari’s Battlezone—which I loved to play—this was the first time I ever saw anything similar. It was so amazing, so impossibly trippy.
Tron made me question what was inside those arcades and inside machines like the Apple II and the Sinclair ZX Spectrum—a popular 3.5MHz Zylog Z80-based home computer with rubber keys that was released in Europe just a few months before. Tron gave a personality to all those games and programs loaded from a cassette tape. I started to think that, whatever was going on inside those boxes, it was something amazing. Almost magical. Tron also told me about hacking into a computer system even before I knew it was going to be called hacking. It seemed like the coolest thing in the world.
War Games, released a year later, only made this fascination grow more complex, but it was Tron that planted the seed. By the end of that movie I knew I wanted to be part of that world. Doing graphics or whatever. I just wanted to get into them, just like Flynn did.
Today, Tron looks graphically dated. The story is naive too, slow in parts, but it’s as trippy as the day it came out. And the fact is that those black and white characters have a certain Fritz Lang-ish nature to them that fascinates me even today.
Perhaps it’s nostalgia. Perhaps it’s the fact that I would enjoy watching two and half hours of Jeff Bridges reading the phone book. Whatever it is, I don’t care. I just know that I love this movie deeply. [Amazon, iTunes]