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Anecdotes: HAL 9000 (1992?-2001) Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129757D
Original Publication Date: 1992-Sep-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 2 page(s) / 17K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Eric A. Weiss: AUTHOR [+2]


P.O. Box 537 Kailua, HI 96734 USA

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Copyright ©; 1992 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Anecdotes: HAL 9000 (1992?-2001)

Eric A. Weiss

P.O. Box 537 Kailua, HI 96734 USA

On January 12,1992, several newspaper feature writers commemorated the birth of the super- computer. HAL 9000, the central character of the 1968 science-fiction movie and novel, 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick.l; The main narrative of the story is of a space mission, in the year 2001, to search for life on a planet at the extreme edge of the solar system. HAL, secretly given command of the mission, attempts to put down a mutiny, and is murdered by dismemberment by the last remaining human aboard. In his last words, HAL tells how he was made operational in Urbana, Illinois, on the 12th of January

1992 and instructed by Mr. Langley, who taught him to sing a song called "Daisy," which he then does with his dying breath, creating a moment of wrenching electronic pathos.

   (Image Omitted: HAL tells how he was instructed by Mr. Langley, who taught him to sing "Daisy," which he then does with his dying breath, creating a moment of wrenching electronic pathos.)

The way the movie script was written is unique. Kubrick, then at the height of his science-fiction creativity, after Dr. Strangelove and before A Clockwork Orange, suggested to Clarke, a wildly successful and prolific scientific-fiction author, that they cooperate on a movie based on Clarke's short story "The Sentinel" about a flying black monolith. Clarke enthusiastically accepted Kubrick's proposal that he first write a complete novel from which they would derive the screenplay. This dual creation has resulted in some confusion about HAL. In the book, where the computer is called "Hal," he gives his birth year as 1997 rather than 1992 and identities his teacher as Dr. Chandra rather than Mr. Langley. [Editor's Note: Dr. Chandra, correctly identified this time, appears in the film 2010 as a passenger on a spacecraft traveling to Jupiter to attempt a repair of HAL so that it could return the disabled spaceship Discovery to earth.] Clarke now remembers that Douglas Rain, the Canadian actor who dubbed HAL's spooky anodyne voice, misspoke the date, but the change in the instructor's name seems to have been deliberate.

At the time of the movie, computer people thought that the reference to Urbana was in homage to ILLIAC and HAL was a one-letter backward- shift of IBM. Clarke now says that he chose Urbana to honor his college math teacher who went there from England and HAL stands only for what Clarke said it did, Heuristically programmed Algorithmic computer. The song which the movie HAL claims is called "Daisy" is correctly titled "A Bicycle Built for Two" and was recognized at the time as the tune used to demonstrate a Bell Labs singing computer. The song includes the telling phrase "I'm half-crazy...," su...