Is there any documentation of the specs (processor speed, memory, etc...) for the WOPR super computer in the 1983 film War Games?

I was watching the movie tonight and I was curious as to how "Joshua" compared to modern computers.

  • 1
    Wopr was able to brute force a 7-10 digit nuclear code in a couple of minutes. Modern computers can't do that. Hardware is one thing but remember even with old hardware Joshua was an A.I.
    – user18209
    Jan 17, 2015 at 15:39
  • Leaving the password slot machine issue aside, it’s hard to tell what kind of operation did WOPR need to do to try a single code… They mentioned Joshua is “sending random numbers to the silos”, which would require not only strong WOPR, but also extremely capable communication channel (and no lockout mechanism in the missiles)…
    – Mormegil
    Jan 17, 2015 at 23:59

3 Answers 3


If you take into account Moore's Law (which basically states computer output doubles every 18 months), you could extrapolate that today a computer should be 1,048,576 times more powerful today than it would have been then (June 1983 release date), as there have been 20 of these 18 month periods since then (approximately). This graph would tend to bear this theory out:

Supercomputer speeds over the last 60 years - from Wikipedia

This image depicts the number of FLOPS (FLoating Point Operations Per Second) by year. In 1983 it appears we were around 10^7 FLOPS while today we should be somewhere around 10^18 FLOPS. In fact, the fastest computer currently is the Tianhe-2 which is based out of China. It can perform at 33.86 petaflops (a petaflop is the 10^18 I mentioned earlier), so it is a bit faster than what the graph indicates, but hopefully you get the picture.

I don't know how powerful the WOPR was actually supposed to be, as I don't see anything mentioned. Part of this may be it was supposed to be one of, if not the most powerful computer on the planet at the time. If so, my analysis should hold true. Mind you, the numbers we are talking about are mind boggling from a 1983 standpoint ... getting to where we are at today might leave you with a large gaping hole in your cerebral cortex.

  • 1
    My reading of the graph would tend to say more like 10^9 for 1983, rather than 10^7. Otherwise, good answer. Sep 5, 2013 at 15:48
  • The script of WarGames implies that the software of Joshua, at least, dates to the early 1970s. We don’t know how old the hardware is, but it might have been a fair amount creakier even that the computations above conclude. Aug 5, 2018 at 17:08

Well, the only real mention of WOPR/Joshua's capabilities come from the sequel, WarGames:The Dead Code. Once he and the main kid character come across the mothballed/in hiding WOPR, Dr. Falken mentions, "In his day he was MILES ahead of the curve".

Given that Joshua manages to hold his own with his 21st century replacement, R.I.P.L.E.Y., even after the WOPR mainframe was destroyed and Falken uploaded Joshua into RIPLEY, I'd say the good doctor's statement still held true.

  • 2
    There's a sequel? O.o
    – BlueMoon93
    Dec 9, 2016 at 0:18
  • Yes, there's a sequel, though it's not as good as the original in my opinion. Same basic premise, genius kid opens a can of worms by unknowingly playing a game against a government supercomputer, but this time around the supercomputer is running a gambling website that targets and identifies terrorists.
    – Brendan O
    Dec 9, 2016 at 4:29

You might compare the power of the WOPR back in 1983, to a modern day calculator at best!

  • 4
    More details please. Why do you think that the comparison is apt. Sep 5, 2013 at 14:49
  • 3
    More of a comment then an answer
    – Travis
    Sep 5, 2013 at 17:16

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