How People Reacted to Computer Viruses in 1988


"It arrived at MIT in the middle of the night. The students were safe... their computers weren't." Such an ominous line might be used in a cheesy horror movie, but this time it comes from an old Boston TV news report. Computer viruses are not really news anymore, mostly because they're pretty common and also fairly simple to remove. But in 1988, that wasn't the case. A harmless but self-propagating line of code earned its own three-minute segment that year, accompanied by an interview with a "part-time Virus Hunter" and (inexplicably) gameplay clips of Atari's famously terrible E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. For fun, let's count the number of times people say "insidious."

In the end, MIT and its students were safe, as were their computers.