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Fixing a bug in “Airwolf” code from 1984 [video] (youtube.com)
250 points by wslh on May 11, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 53 comments

Huh. Cool to see this get some space on the HN front page. I created the Tumblr https://moviecode.tumblr.com/ a few years ago and I've started this channel to go a little deeper into some of the examples. Hope people like it.

Next up: two episodes of Knight Rider, Westworld (1973) and Swordfish.

One of the episodes of SG1 had the source code of the Replicators on screen, iirc it was the HTML output for the Bank of Canada.

I just googled it and found http://thedailywtf.com/articles/Stargate-Code-of-the-Replica... so that might be a fun one to do a deep dive on.

Yes, thanks. I have that one in the queue to do a video on. But thanks for that link as I'm trying in the text beneath the videos to credit people who discover these things and I'll add that.

Here's another one if you don't already have it. Numb3rs shows Objective-C/UIKit code (UITableViewCell and NSArray *crayon)


Cool!, I love the site btw, I could get lost in that stuff for hours :).

I went out for beers with those guys one time. They were all pretty cool individuals.

It's funny because when I arrived at the restaurant, they were easy to spot. It was the table full of pony tails and neckbeards. (Not joking)

Which guys?

The guys from thedailywtf.com

The only one I remember by name is Remy.

You were replying to a comment about moviecode.tumblr though. Just FYI.

The root comment was about moviecode, but its immediate child was about dailywtf.

The "I love the site btw" referred to moviecode though since it was a reply to jgrahamc, hence his question.

Do Person of Interest please :). They actually used Shellshock on-screen as an exploit quite soon after it was in the news, and also AFAIR featured Stuxnet dumps.

Revolution had some Lisp code in the first season[0].

[0] - https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/216352/lisp-in-Revolutio...

Please submit stuff you see to the Tumblr so I can keep track of it all.

Did you take a look at the 6502 assembler in "The Terminator". Maybe you can find the bug that stopped AHnold from killing Sarah Connor.

They really should have used the code that controlled the ghosts in Pac-Man.

That came from Nibble Magazine.

Yes. I'm going to do that at some point.

Arrival has an R Jupyter Notebook featured about half way through when they're doing analysis.

And 24 had Chloe walking over to a terminal and doing `svn unlock xyz` once.

I bet you'll find a trove of bugs in "Whiz Kids" and "Automan"

Oh man, I loved Whiz Kids when it was on TV. I'm not specifically looking for bugs or 8 bit stuff just really spelunking into where the code came from. The Westworld one is very interesting because it's 1973 and Westworld was the first film with computer graphics in it... I finally figured out what's being shown.

Not a movie but there's a wonderful source listing in Lost Universe (I think) where the C code starts with some macros that use setjmp/longjmp to implement gosub/return. Will try to find specific episode/timestamp when I get home.

I had a bunch of screenshots from a movie, I'll get back to you as soon as I found them. The VBA code is quite funny.

Nice. Please submit them to my Tumblr!

Can't wait for the Knight Rider one

If anyone, like me, is wondering if the bug solution is correct, here's the original documentation for the RND() function in Applesoft BASIC language (page 102):


Which says:

    Returns a random real number greater than or equal to 0 and less than 1.
Which is pretty much the standard for a random function in many other computer languages through history, ie. Python's random.random(), JS Math.random(), ... There are other, more creative versions of the function, like Perl's and Ruby's rand(max), which differ slightly by allowing the user to set the max number.

But this other reference link, which presumably takes its information from the back of another book could have led the Airwolf programmer to make the mistake:


It says the generated number is between 0 and 1, without mention to 1 being exclusive. I believe this a common confusion when it comes to RND() usage.

Even if it were 0.0 to 1.0 inclusive there'd still be a bug in the code since there's a very slim chance of getting a 1.000000 from the RNG, so in that buggy code, 'F' would still almost never be selected.

For that reason, a floating point random number from 0 to 1.0000000 inclusive would be hard to work with.

Another way to fix the bug would've been

  INT(RND(1) * 15 + .5)
which is equivalent to rounding to the nearest integer* instead of truncating.

*If positive, which RND's return value must be.

The labyrinth-printing example for the C64 also uses this: https://10print.org/

Airwolf + Nightrider filled my young mind in the 80s. Ahh, how I used to love watching them!

I hope this message reaches you before you take the plunge...... I would recommend not watching Airwolf as an adult. Let it live in the "wondrous memory" part of your brain forever.

Street Hawk, anyone?

Absolutely! As a kid that rode dirt bikes all the time, and loved technology, I was totally into it. That and Knight Rider spurred a lot of ideas when I was young, and I was excited when I came across a set of Street Hawk DVDs a few years back. Brought back great memories.

I liked both series, but the music of Street Hawk feels a lot better. Knight Rider has a very dark and heavy mood.

This a delight. I've been stumbling upon them since 2014, more examples here:


This is a gratuitous digression, but the retreating blade stall is a key reason we don't have supersonic helicopters.

The Helicopter Speed Limit - Helicopter Physics Series - #7 - Smarter Every Day 51 -- starts at 2m46s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pbdwueqGp4

That's a neat video.

I was surprised to learn that Chinooks are faster than sportier-looking helicopters because of that factor.

Slightly off topic but this may be the only time that it's semi relevant to get this onto HN:

Edwin Van Santen - Airwolf (Mix) Commodore 64 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15oujjzU1lM

I just saw the name and started humming the theme song. This show and game made me want to become a helicopter pilot.

Did you become a helicopter pilot?

The whole channel seems interesting https://www.youtube.com/c/BehindtheScreens Based on This Tumblr: https://moviecode.tumblr.com/

There's got to be plenty of code to enjoy in Whiz Kids (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDdVbOcUlTo). (Why "whiz" and not "wiz?")

Hands down, greatest TV show ever made. You're free to disagree, but your opinion is wrong.

We need more Jan Michael Vincents!

Though if you actually follow @AirWolf4Life for any length of time you may disagree with that previous statement.

Anyone curious about this, don't use your work computer.

Oh my. I really loved Airwolf as a kid. I did not need to see this.

My heart agrees with you ... it is.

But I watched a couple of episodes a few weeks ago (yikes!)

The trick is to skip season 1.

Season 2 and 3 was where the real meat of the show was found.

Fun Fact: My wife wouldn't let me name our son Stringfellow

I did a similar thing a while back and, although it was one of my favourite shows as a kid, I have to conclude that re-watching it was a mistake. Same with Knightrider.

This is so true - Knightrider was my favorite as a child, and I need to leave my memories of it with 7 year old me.

I've been re-watching Knight Rider on-and-off for a while now, and it's actually fairly good. I wouldn't compare it directly to anything modern, as long as I accept it for what it is - a 1980s show.

Noooooo - you're tempting me. :)

they hit one of the two major problems in informatics... :D the number 3 in particular :D

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