WOPR Front - Zoomed

What is W.O.P.R. ?

If you’ve been living under a rock since the early 1980s, or you are unfortunate enough never to have seen movies from this time period, then you might not know what the W.O.P.R. is.

WOPR stands for War Operation Plan Response, and it is the name of a so-called “super-computer” featured in the movie Wargames. If this still hasn’t jogged your memory, then check out this original trailer for the Wargames movie:

Geeks like myself who grew up cutting their technological teeth on dial-up BBSes before regular humans had access to the Internet were absolutely enthralled by a movie like Wargames. This movie is a permanent part of geek culture and quotes from it and memes based on scenes from it are ubiquitous, at least within nerdy circles like my own.

If you want a little more reference, here’s a clip from the movie where the computer is first introduced. In this clip, I pay special attention to the size and shape of the machine as well as it’s relative dimensions compared to the people walking around it. This information comes in handy later.

The WOPR Desk

I currently have the unique opportunity of having an empty office. Not just empty in that there’s no furniture, but empty in that the drywall isn’t even up yet. There’s no wiring, no insulation, no nothing.

One of my personal philosophies has always been:

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.

This applies to decorating and furnishing my office space as well. As such, I’ve decided to create a prop replica of the W.O.P.R and use it as my desk. I’ll be detailing the entire process from start to finish here, as well as putting all code and drawings up on github so everyone can have access to it.

In my next post I’ll be talking about my thoughts around the design of the desk, as well as how I’m going to adapt the original prop to something usable in my office as a desk without sacrificing the look and feel.

My initial concept of the desk includes the following goals:

  • Match the relative dimensions to the original as much as possible
  • Match the original color
  • Recreate the recessed “blinky lights” panel, hopefully recreating the colors and blink patterns as well.
  • Recreate the LCD panel that displayed the game countdown. This was originally not shown on the prop, so I’ll have to find a good place for it.
  • Completely overdo all of the electronics, making it all remotely controllable over the Internet. This goal won’t be complete until someone sees what I’ve done and says “holy crap this is WAY over the top”.
  • Make the drawer facades from the original prop (which were not functional) into something functional, either doors into storage or slide-out drawers.
  • Probably stuff a Raspberry Pi or other computer(s) inside the desk. Because electronics.
  • Replace the recessed blinking light panel above the “W.O.P.R.” lettering with a monitor, preferably something HDMI so I can control the display from my RaspPi.

I don’t know yet if this is too ambitious or unrealistic, but these are my goals and I’m sticking to them until I fail, and will try again after that.