“War Games” turns 36

On June 3rd, 1983, War Games starring Matthew Broderick hit big screens across the United States. The film’s most memorable line: “The only winning move is not to play.”

President Reagan’s screening of the film on June 4th, 1983 at Camp David ended up having a major impact on U.S. cybersecurity and defense policy going forward.

Yes, you read that right, the dawn of the U.S. government taking cybersecurity seriously across its entire enterprise, and especially its sprawling strategic command and control infrastructure, was largely born out of the movie War Games. You can read the groundbreaking 1984 directive that came out of the President’s inquiry here. What’s even more intriguing, is that War Games opened just three years to the day of one of the most dangerous moments in the Cold War, when the U.S. thought it was under attack by thousands of Soviet ballistic missiles. The cause of the near-apocalyptic false alarm? A $0.46 computer part.

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