Feeds

Digital deviants: The many MAD COMPUTERS of Doctor Who

Through space and time with the universe's worst IT

Security for virtualized datacentres

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. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Apple iPhone 6: Missing sapphire glass screen FAIL explained
They just cannae do it in time, says analyst
Oh noes, fanbois! iPhone 6 Plus shipments 'DELAYED' in the UK
Is EMBIGGENED Apple mobile REALLY that popular?
Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT
Let's >sigh< see what Cupertino has been up to for the past year
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
The Apple Watch and CROTCH RUBBING. How are they related?
Plus: 'NostrilTime' wristjob vid action
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Half a BILLION in the making: Bungie's Destiny reviewed
It feels very familiar - but it's still good
Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch
Sizes, prices and all – but not for the wrist-o-puter
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.