Feeds

Digital deviants: The many MAD COMPUTERS of Doctor Who

Through space and time with the universe's worst IT

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Xoanon

Reg Hardware retro numbers

So think you might have a mad computer on your hands. What do you do? You call in the Doctor to fix it for you, right? Wrong. Turns out that’s probably the worst possible thing you can do.

The fourth Doctor tried to fix a computer once, instead of just blowing it up. It didn't go well. He got it working again, but he also left an imprint of his own consciousness in its data banks, causing it to develop multiple personalities, including his, and go insane. The Doctor had to deal with the outcome many centuries later in 1977’s The Face of Evil. The Face? It was the Doctor’s own.

Screenshot from Doctor Who serial 'The Face of Evil'

Here’s what happens when computer repair goes horribly, horribly wrong
Source: BBC

The addled machine then proceeded to declare itself the god Xoanon, enslave the entire crew of the ship it was designed to run, and run a decades-long eugenics program on the humans, reducing them to primitive, warring tribes.

The Doctor eventually managed to complete his repairs to Xoanon, but not without a lot of tears along the way, with Xoanon nearly destroying the entire colony with a self-generated atomic explosion. Is this really the guy you want showing up at your desk when you put in a trouble ticket with PC support? We think not.

The Matrix of Gallifrey

Reg Hardware retro numbers

So why does a man as intelligent and dedicated to science as the Doctor seem to have such trouble with computers? Clearly, Time Lords in general just never got the hang of such things, because the vaunted APC Net - Advanced Panatropic Computation Network - of Gallifrey, more popularly known as the Matrix, is arguably the worst computer system in Who history.

Oh, it contains the collected knowledge of the entire Time Lord race, sure. But what good has it ever done? It does a bang-up job of creating truly realistic virtual reality, but it’s all full of awful bogs, crocodiles, samurai warriors, and creepy clowns, as the fourth Doctor saw in 1976’s The Deadly Assassin.

Screenshot from Doctor Who serial 'Trial of a Time Lord'

The Master demonstrates just how crap Gallifrey’s IT security really is
Source: BBC

It doesn’t seem to have any security measures at all. The mad Time Lord Omega had no trouble stealing the Doctor’s “bio-data” from the Matrix in 1983’s Arc of Infinity. The Doctor’s nemesis the Master absconded with secrets from it in 1986’s Trial of a Time Lord, as did a bunch of roving sysadmins from the star system “Sallostophus in the constellation of Andromeda”. The Doctor’s own evil future-self, the Valeyard, was seemingly able to edit its contents at will.

Little wonder, then, that the Doctor never seemed able to get along with computers. He did his undergraduate computer science work on the most poorly designed system in the universe. The Time Lords may be the undisputed masters of space and time, but trust us, their IT certifications aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. They “long since stepped aside from the barren road of technology”, and it shows. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
Jaguar Sportbrake: The chicken tikka masala of van-sized posh cars
Indian-owned Jag's latest offering curries favour with us
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
Xiaomi boss snaps back at Jony Ive's iPhone rival 'theft' swipe
I'll have a handset delivered. Judge us after you try us...
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.