2008: A Type Odyssey

I always liked the display screens in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I was reminded of them the other day by something. I went online to have a look round for a picture of some of them, and, well, there’s really not very much. Even the IMDB pages have very low resolution blurry shots that barely show the HAL console, never mind the details of what the info screens are showing. I’ve got the DVD, so a bit of stepping through frames later I can at least recreate the basic appearance of them. The small text is unreadable for the most part, but I could make a guess (that’s part of the fun). I created a desktop (iPhone/mobile) out of them too.


The big question of these things, though, is, “What are they showing?” Given that so much of the rest of the film is pretty carefully thought out, it seems a bit odd that these screens should end up as a slightly more sophisticated version of Star Trek’s blinking lights. There are some graphs, some video feeds, and a few lines of numbers, but these three-letter codes are the most eye-catching. If they’re supposed to be some representation of HAL, what are all the buttons on the console for? Actually, I do wonder why the buttons are there - since everything is done by voice, and when HAL goes wrong, there’s no frantic hitting of buttons or any hint that these consoles do anything at all.

Still, it is all rather pretty!