Does anyone have an educated guess what kind of computer Batman had in the 1960’s Batman tv show? That was when I decided I had to have a computer of my own. Unfortunately, I had to wait some 15+ years to get one.
I’d figured it was just a bunch of prop components rather than ‘hey let’s model the set after an actual computer. the audience will never know.’
The Burroughs B205 was very popular as a prop in movies and TV shows and was a big part of what was shown in the Bat Cave.
Didn’t they use the same setup for Lost in Space? There were many computers in Alpha Control in the first episode.
It’s a Burroughs B205, according to this wonderful site: Starring the Computer - Batman - The Movie
Freaking awesome. Thank you for proving me wrong. Had genuinely thought it was just a kitbash to look sciency.
This particular B205 console featured in a number of movies and TV series and its tape drives in even more.
Here’s a list compiled from the Burroughs B-205 page and Starring the Computer (which have surprisingly few intersections):
- “Lost in Space” (1965-1968)
- “Batman” (1966-1968)
- “Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine” (1965)
- “The Angry Red Planet” (1959)
- “The Fantastic Voyage” (1966)
- “The Towering Inferno” (1974)
- “The Witness” of “Hogans Heros” - Episode 115
- “The Green Hornet” - “Invasion from Outer Space”, Episode 24
- “The Green Hornet” - Season 1, Episode 4, “Crime Wave” (1966)
- “Battle for the Planet of the Apes” (1973)
- “Cannon” - Season 2, Episode 8, “The Rip Off” (1972)
- “Hogan’s Heroes” - Season 4, “The Witness” (1969)
- “In Like Flint” (1967)
- “Sex Kittens Go To College” (1960)
- “The Time Travelers” (1964)
- “Time Travelers” (1976)
- “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” - Season 1, Episode 23, “The Human Computer” (1965)
B205 Tape Drives:
- “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” (1969)
- “The Time Tunnel” (1966-1967)
- “The Right Stuff” (1983)
- “Austin Powers, the Spy who Shagged Me” (1999)
- “Caprice” (1967)
- “City Beneath the Sea” (1971)
- “Fail Safe” (1964)
- “Get Smart” - Season 4, Episode 19, “Absorb the Greek” (1969)
- “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” (2001)
- “Land of the Giants” - Season 2, Episode 4, “Deadly Pawn” (1969)
- “The Land of the Giants” - Season 1, Episode 14, “Brainwash” (1969)
- “Lost In Space” - Season 3, Episode 1, “Condemned of Space” (1967)
- “Lost in Space” - Season 3, Episode 10, “The Space Creature” (1967)
- “The Man With My Face” (1965)
- “The Night the World Exploded” (1957)
- “Our Man Flint” (1966)
- “Paper Man” (1971)
- “Planet of the Apes” - Season 1, Episode 5, “The Legacy” (1974)
- “The Right Stuff” (1983)
- “Search” - Season 1 (1972)
- “The Swarm” (1978)
- “Teen Wolf” - Season 4, Episode 10, “Monstrous” (2014)
- “The Time Tunnel” - Season 1 (1967) — is this a dupe?
- “The Towering Inferno” (1974)
- “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” (2011)
There used to be a web page on this console and its modifications, but I can’t find it for the moment. (Is it gone?)
Too bad the BAT MOBLE was parked in front of the computer, looking at the some on line clips.
What I liked was the was the fighting was shown as comic stlills like “PUCH” “BASH” “DUCK”
“DOOGE” “SLIP” “KNOCK OUT”
For this question, “Starring the Computer” is always the best bet for an answer.
BUT, there’s isn’t any PDP-10 in there! Please help me make this right.
Probably not these, but they might be of interest:
Some film frames here:
Some B205 history here too:
I recall, we had a thread on this in the G+ group ‘of old’, but I couldn’t find any backup. Do you have it? (I guess, the URL in question should be on archive.org, as it was once a quite popular link.)
There is an archive here:
I do have a backup - several - but they are rather difficult to navigate!
I wouldn’t be surprised if I had asked about it before. I did something similar when I found a bunch of computer TV ads with Tom Baker (Doctor Who at that time).
Paul Kimpel has written an emulator for the
ElectroData/Burroughs Datatron 205:
He’s also done emulators for the Burroughs 220
and the Burroughs B5500
www dot phkimpel dot us slash B5500
And see also
The Burroughs 205 and 220 Blog
datatron dot blogspot dot com
On the subject of Burroughs emulators: Michael J Mahon has a simulator running on the Apple II; see http://michaeljmahon.com – it’s even capable of running an Algol compiler!
Star Trek (the original series) was unusual, for TV sci-fi of that
era, in that Roddenberry, Matt Jefferies, Wah Chang et al., needed to design
and build completely imaginary future tech, including the
elaborate bridge set, the transporter, the sick bay diagnostic
bed, the engine room, tricorders, phasers, communicators, etc., etc.
(including the briefing-room computer console).
Other sci-fi shows of the 60s typically used recycled “real” tech. Hollywood
prop houses bought up lots of obsolete 50s computer gear, which schlockmeister
Irwin Allen used as props in his sci-fi shows – Burroughs tape drives,
Burroughs B-205 and B-220 computer consoles, the iconic
Sage system maintenance console, etc.
The Outer Limits did the same thing and used obsolete vacuum-tube era gizmos
as props in the episodes that took place in government or private labs,
moon bases, etc. You can practically smell the burning dust on the
vacuum tubes looking at some of that stuff. There’s one particularly
impressive tape drive that was used in several episodes (most prominently
in “The Zanti Misfits”, but also in “Moonstone” and “The Sixth Finger”) –
the Ampex FR200 half-inch data recorder, as seen
in a magazine ad from 1956:
A pair of classic computer tape drives appears in the episode “Chameleon”
These are identifiable as Univac “Uniservo I” drives, as
utilized in one of the earliest commercial computer systems, dating from 1951.
There’s also a paper-tape device that appears in a number of episodes that
might conceivably have originally been part of a store-and-foward
radio-telegraphy system. And vintage reel-to-reel audio tape machines
appear in a number of episodes, from Magnecord and Roberts.
Inspired by this discussion, I had a look at a few films from the list, and some feature an amazing assortment of equipment.
(Also, some are actually hilarious and even interesting for how they introduce discussions, we’re still involved today, but this is another story/OT. If you’re looking for them on YouTube, be prepared for 240p – half the NTSC resolution + digital compression, it doesn’t get more retro than this.)
The pilot film for the original star trek (The CAGE), fits into the future/retro look for even in 1966.
The Outer Limits (original 1963-1964 season) even has tabulating-machine-era
plugboards as bits of set decoration in a number of episodes:
hanging on the wall in “Chameleon”, in Cliff Robertson’s electronics lab in
“The Galaxy Being”, on a desk in “The Borderland”,
and on the back of Professor Mathers’ “evolution moviola” in “The Sixth Finger”.
Now that’s really retro!
On the other hand, even within the past decade, there was still
plugboard computing equipment being used in production:
Something to note about that 205 console used in Batman, Lost in Space, etc,. is that it was a secondary control panel, known as the Programmer’s Console. It sat on a desk that held the relay switching logic for the paper tape equipment and Flexowriter typewriter. It was optional, although most systems had one.
The main console (and to some who used the 205, the “real” console) was mounted on the mainframe cabinet, as shown in this picture of a 204, which was a 205 sans
magnetic tape capability the Cardatron interface for IBM punched card equipment [corr. 2021-10-11]. Known as the Supervisory Console, it had buttons corresponding to each register lamp, which allowed experienced operators to quickly set the registers by playing two-handed chords on the buttons.
You entered data on the Programmer’s Console, on the other hand, using its decimal keyboard, which loaded only the D register. That was slower and more awkward for setting registers, but usually better for keying multiple contiguous words into memory.
Also note that it was just the “205,” not the B205; same for the 220. The Burroughs B-series systems came later, starting confusingly enough with the B200.