ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The History of Technology in the Movies

Updated on April 12, 2013

When a new technology develops and used in a culture, it eventually is found in the movies. Throughout history, communication advances posed various problems to script writers and filmmakers.

The first film dealing with the new technology then in 1908 was, "Heard Over the Phone", directed by Edwin Porter and D.W. Griffith. The film was about the Great Train Robbery and directors had to decide how to show a conversation using a phone at both ends of the conversation. The early takes simply showed a person talking on the phone. Unsatisfied, the directors created the first split screen editing that showed two people conversing that were not in the same location. Then, another problem arose in 1911 in the filming of, "The Lonedale Operator", not a telephone operator, but a telegraph operator using Morse Code. Since there was no sound, the message sent in code was displayed as dialog.

In the 1957, Tracy-Hepburn movie, "Desk Set", about a TV station office that is being computerized by an IBM machine had issues trying to tell its audience exactly what this huge computer was, why it was needed, what it does, what are punch cards of data and so on. They did so gingerly through dialogue and show and tell. It would only be 20 years until it was the norm.

The phone booth is now almost obsolete or maybe it is. Gone are the days when you were seeking a booth to make a call in public in privacy. I recall how this WAS the case even until the 90's. But in film, the phone booth usually was an object to crash into or to seek refuge in from an attacker as in Hitchcock's 1963, "The Birds", filmed in Bodega Bay, CA. in Northern California.

As computers became part of life, they presented other problems for films. In the 1983 hacker film, "WarGames", the first about a teen hacking into a high school system to change his grade and then into a U.S. military system. Like the 1957 film, directors had to tell the audience what the Internet was, which was known as the Arpanet, then. What it did, how was it used, what was a password. Like the 1957 film, they told the audience and showed them in various scenes what it was etc. They also had the actor speak as he wrote the text on the monitor, which nobody ever really does. Even that grew tedious, so that is when they developed a "speaking computer" that hooks up to a Imsai 8080 computer. Of course, the first famous speaking computer was HAL in the 1968 2001: Space Odyssey.

The advent of the cell phone first appeared in the 1987, "Wall Street". It was a large brick-like thing, not a pocket phone at all. But it was a novelty for the rich then and is showed the freedom of talking from a beach.

Today, texting is presenting filmmakers problems. The first came up in Sandra Bullock's great 1995, "The Net". Then, it was still new. Many had it and many did not. Service was spotty. But it really was more email, which was new for many. The directors used the WarGame approach by having the actress tell the audience what she was writing, because if you just show the text on a the monitor, it got boring.

Texting is emotionless and the 2013 film, Disconnect, tries to deal with this by showing the emotion of the text on the actor's face, instead of just reading a text. They have also focused only showing the text. Since the film has a lot of texting with people off camera, the problem remains of how to show real emotion of the text. Is the text sarcastic, serious, a joke? Will the audience know it? how?


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      well, thanks. Technology not only impacts the filming techniques etc. but scriptwriters and how the storyline is told to the audience. But, in 1980, the computer was such a novelty, most thought it would seldom be used in the practicable world. Maybe for crude video games, but that was it.

    • Geekdom profile image


      5 years ago

      This Hub was not what I expected at all. Still an interesting read. It is fun to see how technology in our world changes. There is a great Youtube video showing movies that would have been completely different if the internet was around. Star Wars ended with e-mailing the plans for the Death Star and then the movie ended. :)


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)