All My Sins Remembered #2: TRON and Project CLU

by Joey deVilla on April 5, 2012

I put on TRON (the original 1982 film) as background noise last night. I first saw it in the theatre in 1983, shortly before I got my first computer, an Apple //e. I don’t think I’ve seen the film since 1998, when I was working at the two-man consultancy Datapanik with my friend Adam Smith. We had it on in the background when we were speccing out the program we were working on — a database of every mall in America — and we got the codename for it from one of the characters in the movie: CLU.

One of the bits in the movie that always makes me laugh is the outfit that the I/O Tower Guardian wore, especially the hat. There’s something…papal…about it:

I/O Tower Guardian from the original "Tron"

Watching TRON took me back to those days in 1998 when we worked on Project CLU. For a good eight months, I practically lived in Adam’s house, which he shared with his girlfriend Nancy, and which also functioned as Datapanik’s offices. It was a three-bedroom apartment in a brownstone-like building on St. George Street just south of Dupont. Adam worked his office (the smallest bedroom) and I worked (and often slept in) the guest bedroom, where I cranked out code on my trusty Toshiba laptop, with a processor racing away at 233 MHz and packed to the gills with a then-huge 96 MB of RAM:

Joey deVilla (circa 1998) working away on his laptop

…and our test machine was a PC on loan from my friend Rob:

Joey deVilla (circa 1998) working away on a desktop PC

We worked long and hard on this project, and naturally, we had to slip an “Easter Egg” into the program before it shipped (in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever shipped a desktop application that didn’t have some kind of Easter Egg). The right combination of pressed keys and a mouse click on one spot of the “About” window would reveal this photo featuring me, Adam and his cat, Mooks:

Joey deVilla, Mooks the Cat and Adam Smith

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