Facts about HAL 9000

Born: 1951
Birthplace: Fiction
Best known as: The supercomputer from 2001: A Space Odyssey


HAL 9000 Biography

HAL 9000 is the spaceship supercomputer in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the 1968 film written by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke and directed by Kubrick. (The movie, and a full-length book of the same title, were based on Clarke’s 1951 short story The Sentinel.) HAL malfunctions, attacking the crew of the Discovery and endangering the mission until he is shut down by the astronaut Dave Bowman (Kier Dullea). Hal’s creepy-calm voice and calculating intellect have made him one of science fiction’s best-known characters. One much-quoted exchange from the movie occurs as HAL tries to trap Bowman outside the ship: Bowman: "Open the pod bay doors please, Hal." HAL: "I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that." HAL also appears in the sequel film, 2010 (1984).

Extra credit

The voice of HAL 9000 was provided by actor Douglas Rain… HAL’s age is the subject of a slight discrepancy: Clarke’s story has HAL becoming operational on January 12, 1997, while in the film the date given is January 12, 1992; both agree that HAL was “born” at Urbana, Illinois… HAL is sometimes compared with chess-playing computer Deep Blue.


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