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Competition: Tron Versus the Future

Submitted by on December 13, 2010 – 11:28 pm12 Comments


Nearly three decades ago, the future of computing was virtual reality and insane amounts of neon. It was programmes as people, riding around on light cycles and smashing each other about with identity discs. At least, that’s what writer/director Steven Lisberger told us with a little help from Jeff Bridges and a little cash from Disney in Tron. It never quite panned out that way.

Now, a whole lot of years later, that very ’80s idea about running around inside computers is coming back to our screens in the form of Tron: Legacy. The very first chance you’ll get to see that is at 12:01am on Friday morning, and the biggest way you’ll get to see that is at the iMax in Bradford’s National Media Museum. We’ve got two tickets we’re half inclined to give you, but we want you to tell us about the futures that never were.

Tell us in the comments below what used to look like the future to you. Which building, gadget, pop video… whichanything promised you a future we never got, then slipped away to become an odd curio of a bygone age?

If you’re wondering what the hell we’re waffling about – one of our bloggers used to think that Citroen BXes must surely have fallen through a crack in time from 2015 thanks to its hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension. Now, said blogger won’t be named on site out of embarassment… Hopefully you get the idea.

So, let us know what used to look like the future and why in the comments below for a chance to win the two tickets. As well as the giant 3D midnight performance, the Media Museum is putting on an event that includes the opportunity to play Tron games past and present as well as recreate scenes from the film using green screen technology. There are more details here. We’ll be picking out a winner on Wednesday afternoon. If you are on Twitter please do leave your ID so we can contact you quickly. Tickets are non transferable so please don’t enter if you know you wouldn’t be able to make the event.

If you don’t win the competition, you can have a look on the National Media Museum’s website for iMax booking information on Tron Legacy.

(Image via Disney)

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  • Nick Copland says:

    Clothes in science fiction TV series. According to the sci-fi of the late 60s/early 70s, it seemed that in the very near future everyone would be wearing some kind of silver/prime colour jumpsuit with no buttons, visible zips or superfluous style – merely the ability to hug your perfect anatomy and resist all kind of weather conditions – whatever planet/moon you were on. Space 1999 and UFO were my favourites – can’t remember which had the women with matching purple hair and some kind of chainmail miniskirts…?
    Anyway, imagine my disappointment with the rise of retro fashion, the spread of the national waistline, and the demise of those exciting new fabrics like rayon (surely the ideal textile for laser wielding adventurers…) – true, silver jumpsuits had a brief moment in the early 80s – then …. nothing…
    I am now starting to dress like my grandfather, and cannot see the return of the jumpsuit any day soon…

  • Jon Holmes says:

    I have to suggest the Sinclair C5. I remember seeing a clip of one in action on TV when I was a kid and to be fair it did look like the future to my innocent young eyes. Living in Headingley now, I see one most days – it’s been for sale outside the Vintage clothes shop on North Lane ever since the place opened. Plasticy, ugly, impractical. Surely a curio now. Even the Segway had some success!

  • Lucy says:

    Westminster tube staion – the ultra industrial dream. Lots of pipes and unnecessary bits. Feels like when you walk out of the staion the world might of ended. Also has that turn of the millenium ‘futuristic’ grey or silver look.

    • This totally made me think of Leeds University, even though it’s a totally different type of futurity. The bottom half of it, seen from high up, totally looks like a set from a ’70s sci-fi show or movie like Buck Rogers. I used to sit in the Terrace bar imagining shit laser battles across its white and concrete rooftops, all covered in pipes and walkways. Outside one of my very first lectures someone told me they’d read that the bizarrely tiered Roger Stevens building was a notable landmark in Leeds. It sort of is, but…

      Concrete buildings, though, did at one point make me think of the future. Probably the fact they’re tall. Tall buildings have always seemed super modern to me, even though we’ve been building them for decades.

  • I still think the virtual reality world will happen. Whether it’s Tron or Snow Crash style – we’ll probably get both at some point. Just sometimes the future doesn’t happen quite as quick as we’d like. Though as a computer geek kid I remember stories of computer games with actual large cartoons who would walk around (as opposed to crap graphic sprites) sounded amazing – now 3D graphics have made this the norm. I also remember tales of places in America where you could run around and fire laser guns at each other – somehow Laser Quest didn’t quite live up to the promise of the vision in my head.

    But I’ll take a global network of supercomputers as a decent progression from my Spectrum days – so on some aspects I think we’ve done quite well.

    My Tron comp entry, though, is the Turtle.

    If you went to school in the 80s you may remember seeing one of these devices for technical drawing. It was a plastic domed robot on wheels that you stuck a pencil in the top of, then used the computer to command it to move around, leaving a drawing on the paper behind it.

    Still sounds brilliant to me, but I haven’t seen one since 1983.

  • E B Snare says:

    Although I love Tron, and this would be amazing, I don’t think I can really go tomorrow because I have work on Friday and all this rubbish, but I wanted to add my comment because I’m like that.

    There’s a really good book we had in our university library that was all about visions of the future in the 1960s, and why they never appeared, and what the cultural repercussions are.

    My Tron entry is/would be the HOLOGRAM. From Star Wars to Red Dwarf, holograms are the emblem of the future. It’s like a overhead projector, but with fancy 3D technology. We’re sort of getting there with 3D TV and things like that, so my entry is not necessarily something that has completely slipped out of our reach, but something that continually disappoints. I want a Holodeck, like on Star Trek where they consistently get ‘trapped’ in some Holodeck programme (how? Seriously?), and scanners and holographic projection computers like in Minority Report, and possibly even some sort of holographic wardrobe where you could try on clothes.

    Failing all that, give me some powerful synths and neon glowsticks
    and I’m happy.

    Also RE the Turtle, we had a version at our school and that was in the 1990s. You wrote computer coding into the programme on your PC, it transmitted it to the Turtle (not sure how) and then it traced out the shape on the floor. My friend now has a miniature robot vacuum that does a similar thing. Frightening.

    PS I love Tron.

  • Emma McLean says:

    For me, it’s got to be Virtual Reality – not jumping on the bandwagon above, promise!

    I remember when Segaworld opened in the Trocadero in London way back in 1996, with it’s virtual reality centre piece. I used to watch the screens for ages seeing what the players could see (which was mainly wire mesh shapes of pterodactyls as I remember…) but the concept was awesome, and seemed so close. Maybe we’re a step closer on the interaction side with Kinect and Move but we’re a long way from the fully immersion holographic projections around us.

    I live in hope!

    (Just Googled Segaworld, apparently it cost £50 million!!)

    • Kinect is disappointingly distant from the immersion I was hoping for. Before it came out it looked like videogames from the future, but now it feels like a gimmick. Sad eyes.

      I did once have a conversation with a bloke outside a country pub who, when he learned I was a games journo, told me he built software for the military and that holographic technology is totally there already, they just don’t want us to have it yet. Judge his credibility for yourself…

  • Linktest says:

    Thanks, I’ve recently been hunting for info about this subject matter for ages and yours is the best I’ve discovered so far.

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