Scenes of computer hackers trying to crack someone's password are very common today, but when you think about those scenes only work because the audience are aware that computers are secured using passwords, and securing computers with a password is a rather new thing when compared with the history of cinema. So the question becomes, which movie (or TV episode) was the first to portray a computer system secured using a password (documentaries don't count)?


4 Answers 4


Depending on what you count as a computer, what you count as a password, and whether speaking it counts, possible answers include:

  • 1969: Star Trek TOS: S3E15 Let That Be Your Last Battlefield has Kirk, Spock, and Scott speaking codes to start the computer's self-destruct sequence (the same codes that were later used in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock).
  • 1969: The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, a live-action Disney comedy, has a character whose mind has melded with a computer, and recites the contents of a file if he hears its password.
  • 1982: Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan has Spock using switches to enter a 5-digit ‘prefix code’ to access another starship's computer.
  • 1982: TRON has both Flynn and Dillinger typing a password to access the Master Control Program.
  • 1983: WarGames (as mentioned in another answer) has a full-on hacker-trying-to-guess-the-password scene.  (It's one of the few movies that captures the teen hacker mindset and spirit of the times; and a great watch IMHO.)

There are also two earlier possibilities I've not been able to confirm:

  • 1967: Caprice has a computer, and (according to this page) has secrets stored in an encrypted filing system, so may need a password to access that.
  • 1968: They Came To Rob Las Vegas also has a computer which (according to this page) stores secrets using an encryption system, so again may need a password.

(For reference, the first real-life password-protected login on a computer was on CTSS in 1961.)

  • 1
    This may be irrelevant, but I'm fairly sure there was some access control involved in Colossus: the Forbin Project in 1970
    – matt_black
    Commented May 17 at 13:51
  • interesting, I never thought of self-destruction codes as passwords, but I suppose it's valid - a password is an access code after all
    – Luciano
    Commented May 17 at 13:52
  • @matt_black Colossus did occur to me (another great movie!), but I can't see any access control at all.  Initially, Forbin simply speaks, and his assistant types it into a terminal.  (Later on, of course, there were more direct methods.)
    – gidds
    Commented May 17 at 14:18

I remember an episode of a detective series Simon and Simon about a boy who was hacking bank accounts on a bank system.

According to Google the episode is Trapdoors from 1981, script is here:

Simon and Simon S01E03 Trapdoors

There is mention of passwords as part of trying to access systems.


The first I found in Subzin is from WarGames (1983). Here's the first mention:

00:19:52 - You're really into computers, huh? - Yeah.

00:19:59 - What are you doing? - I'm dialing into the school's computer.

00:20:14 They change the password every couple of weeks, but I know where they write it.

00:20:32 - Are those your grades?! - Yeah.

00:20:35 I don't think that I deserved an F, do you?

Here's a screenshot:

the password is pencil


00:25:35 They might have changed the password.

00:32:15 I put in a password that only I know about.

00:35:32 so I could get his secret password.

00:36:18 If I could just get that damn password, I could play the computer.

00:52:28 The kid broke into the war game using a password left by the original programmer.

00:52:33 - A password? - Yes, sir.

00:52:43 We can find the password and take it out, but it might help to beef up security.

01:36:08 It's like the entire password file has been wiped out.

01:38:15 They've taken out my password.


I'm wondering if the three letter combination for the pre fix code in Dr Strangelove (1964) counts?


announcing through headset intercom This is your attack profile: to insure that the enemy cannot monitor voice transmission or plant false transmission, the CRM114 is to be switched into all the receiver circuits. Emergency phase code prefix is to be set on the dials of the CRM. This'll block any transmission other than those preceded by code prefix. Stand by to set code prefix.


Roger. Ready to set code prefix.


Set code prefix.


dials up letters: OPE Code prefix set.


Lock code prefix.


Code prefix locked.


As you may recall, sir, one of the provisions of plan R provides that once the go code is received the normal SSB radios in the aircraft are switched into a special coded device, which I believe is designated as CRM114. Now, in order to prevent the enemy from issuing fake or confusing orders, CRM114 is designed not to receive at all, unless the message is preceded by the correct three letter code group prefix.


Then do you mean to tell me, General Turgidson, that you will be unable to recall the aircraft?


That's about the size of it. However, we are plowing through every possible three letter combination of the code. But since there are seventeen thousand permutations it's going to take us about two and a half days to transmit them all.

  • I discounted that one as the CRM114 doesn't seem like a computer.  (It's described as a ‘device’ in that dialogue, and also a ‘piece of radio equipment’ on Wikipedia, which also says that it's similar to some real-world analog communications systems.)  If we're including that, then presumably lots of other electric and mechanical devices would have to be included too, right back to combination locks…
    – gidds
    Commented May 17 at 18:37

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