1983 Newscast Covers a Hot New Trend: Computer Fraud

Screencap via Twitter.
Screencap via Twitter.

In 1983, the BBC drew attention to the growing and serious problem of computer fraud by discussing the movie War Games and also a bunch of teenagers who broke into Pepsi to send a bunch of syrup clear across Canada.

This piece of entertaining techno history comes via the BBC’s archival Twitter account. The broadcast is pegged to a South African heist and also “the latest American blockbuster, War Games.” The Newsnight anchor says “computer fraud” like you might share the name of a very mild medical condition you have just googled and are secretly not entirely confident how to pronounce.


Despite the War Games reference, the examples cited—with absolutely incredible graphics—are less global thermonuclear war, more small-time fraud and troublemaking. For instance, “Pepsi Cola were also hit by youngsters,” who engaged in the syrup shenanigans, according to the Newsnight anchor. After recapping various recent instances, the anchor turns to a computer security consultant and asks, “War Games, first of all—could it happen?” He didn’t think it was a probability but “the fact of such computing power in the hands of teenagers is certainly with us.”

“And our children in schools are learning how to deal with computers so it can only increase, can it not?” the anchor notes. “That’s right, and they may not wish to play Space Invaders all the time,” he replies. Oh buddy—if only you knew!

Senior Editor, Attic Haunter, Jezebel

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