Computers in the Movies – Finding Electronic Prop Rentals to Reflect the Times

When a movie is made reflecting a time of the past, it is imperative that every detail is accurate. From the attire to the way actors portray the characters to the props, everything must reflect the period or era relevant to the storyline. One of the hardest props to locate and replicate is that of older computer technology. Movie producers have always made it their goal to keep up with the latest technology. Unfortunately, all too often, there are movies out there portraying the wrong type of computer or worse, computer technology that is inaccurate for the times.

If you are creating a movie reflecting an era of the past, call ProTek for electronic prop rentals at 978-621-4358.

The History of Computers in Film

Computers have rarely taken a starring role in films. In fact, they were part of a background and not considered useful tools. However, displaying the right technology is still important to Hollywood movie producers. After all, they want people to see the latest technology for that era and make it relevant.

The earliest notable use of a computer in a film is in 1927 when Metropolis featured a robot. While a robot is not a computer, it was the start of using technology in film.  For example, the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory featured a Siemens 4004 that was used to search out the remaining golden tickets.

In recent years, it has been noted that movie producers are now incorporating certain brands into their films. For example, the use of Apple products has increased since 2006, showing off everything from Power Macs to Powerbooks in films like Night at the Museum and John Tucker Must Die. Other brands have been showcased in films as they grow in popularity, including Sony and Nokia.

Finding Antique Electronics and Computers

The issue for producers creating movies that go back in time is finding the antique electronics and computers they need. Creating these products takes time and money; something a movie producer does not have to spare. Therefore, the next alternative is an electronic prop rental, which provides the movie set with these antique electronics for filming.

Some of the more in-demand antique electronics include:

  • Tektronix 585A


  • AN/FSQ-7


  • English Electric System 4


  • IBM 360


  • B205s

One of the best places to look for antique computers and electronics is with electronics recycling companies. Professional recyclers often refurbish and save these antique computers (and even the latest technology computers) specifically to be used later as prop rentals for movie sets. ProTek Recycling has a Tektronix 585A in pristine condition and ready for your next movie set. It features the iconic instrument panel that was used in laboratories and research centers in the 60s and early 70s.

Call us at 978 621 4358 or contact us online to learn more about our electronic props or to inquire about an antique computer for rent.

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