Computers have been around for a long time but when did mainstream digital computers really begin to appear in TV shows or films? I believe this is inline and similar with this question.

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    What's the criteria for "mainstream" computers? Apple II? Commodore 64? Do gaming consoles (likely Atari) count?
    – Steve-O
    Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 1:22
  • @Steve-O hmm I don't think video games really count(Atari is a video game console right?). So something that has ideally business use. Forgive me I was not alive then and therefore I am reading random sources. Apple I, I guess is ideal being one of the first consumer/business computers. I believe there was also Altair 8800 and an Italy brand. I would like to limit this to English speaking movies if I can also. Not sure if that is allowed.
    – William
    Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 1:28
  • starringthecomputer.com/featuresyear.html
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 14:44

3 Answers 3


The earliest film to prominently feature a consumer grade computer would be A Man, a Woman and a Bank (1979), starring Donald Sutherland. The computer used was a Commodore PET 2001.

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From IMDB synopsis: "Two novice thieves are plotting to rob a bank in Vancouver. A photographer snaps a shot of one thief as he is carrying the bank building's blueprints. The would-be thief then begins a relationship with the photographer and attempts to retrieve the photos. Meanwhile, the thieves' plot consists of this: one man will enter the bank building after dark, while the other man sits in a van and uses a computer to unlock the building's doors."

The first consumer grade computer used for a character's personal endeavors as opposed to the quasi-business use above was an Apple II in Evilspeak (1981).

Large mainframe computers began showing up in films as early as the mid 1950s.

  • 3
    How did you figure this out, if you mind me asking?
    – William
    Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 2:34
  • 7
    I used to work for Apple and helped do research for presentations we did for the 30th anniversary of the Apple II computer in 2007. After reviewing movies and TV from the early period of home computers, these appeared to be the most prominent films that used them as more than simple background props. Could be wrong, but we looked pretty hard. Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 6:58

Demon Seed (1977) also portrays a computer that resembles old desktop computer. I am not able to recognize but it resembles Commodore PET 2001 which was released in 1977 too.

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While by no means an actual personal computer, the first example of a contemporary home with a computer in a TV show was Whizzo on The Addams Family.

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