The touch-tone sequence to reach the President from NORAD control center is the famous "da da da dum" from Beethoven's Fifth. (Approx. 44 minutes in)
The computer in David's room is actually an IMSAI 8080. The person who supplied the computer for the film tells how Matthew Broderick saved a shooting day by figuring out a programming sequence for the keyboard on his own after instructions were lost.
The delegation from the city of Birmingham, Alabama, visiting NORAD is a tribute to director John Badham's hometown.
The NORAD command center built for the movie was the most expensive set ever constructed up to that time, built at the cost of one million dollars. The producers were not allowed into the actual NORAD command center, so they had to imagine what it was like. In the DVD commentary, director John Badham notes that the actual NORAD command center isn't nearly as elaborate as the one in the movie; he refers to the movie set as "NORAD's wet dream of itself."
When the message for the tour group in NORAD is activated, the sound effect that plays is actually used in the video game Galaga, and can also be heard if you listen carefully when David is playing it in the beginning of the movie.
When David comes home the day after the NORAD computer break-in, the newscaster on the television is talking about a prophylactic recycling center.
Graphics on the large NORAD war room screens were rendered in advance by an HP 9845C desktop computer running BASIC. In 1982 the 9845C was comprised of a base with built-in keyboard and a 14" color monitor that mounted on top. Cost of a 9845C was about $90,000 (inflation-adjusted) and the entire "desktop" computer weighed about 100 pounds. The computer's resolution was not good enough to project on a large screen or to be filmed from directly, so a high-resolution monochromatic display was connected. The images were filmed from the display, one frame at a time, one color at a time, using filters for red, green, and blue. The process took about 1 minute per frame of film.
The computer used to break into NORAD was programmed to make the correct words appear on the screen, no matter which keys were pressed.
The scene where Matthew Broderick is picked up by the FBI was filmed at 7Eleven in Big Bear, CA.
During their extensive research for the film, writers Lawrence Lasker and Walter F. Parkes made friends with many 'hackers' and security experts. They later wrote Sneakers another film featuring 'hackers' and security experts.
WOPR goes through more than 150 possible scenarios in Global Thermonuclear War, including Zaire Alliance, Gabon Surprise, and English Thrust
The original director was Martin Brest, and several of the scenes he shot are still in the movie.
DIRCAMEO(John Badham): recorded voice on the pocket tape recorder in the infirmary and dubbing John Wood's voice in the helicopter scene.
The part of Prof. Falken was originally written with the idea of John Lennon playing the part.
First cinematic reference to a "firewall" - a security measure used in computer networking and Internet security. This does not predate the existence of the Internet, however, which is considered to have started in 1969.
The launch code that Joshua "figures out" for himself at the end of the movie is: CPE 1704 TKS
According to John Badham, the scene of the jeep trying to crash through the gate at NORAD and turning over was an actual accident. The jeep was supposed to continue through the gate. They added the scene of the characters running from the jeep and down the tunnel and used the botched jeep stunt.
In the opening scene of the movie, the launch code is DLG2209TVX.
The dual 8-inch floppy drive is an IMSAI FDC-2, the monitor is a 17-inch Electrohome, the keyboard is an IMSAI IKB-1, and the 1200 baud modem (on top of the monitor) is a Cermetek 212A relabeled with the name "IMSAI". The acoustic coupler prop was added for visual effect only.
The computer display showing "Game Time Elapsed" and "Game Time Remaining" is framed in a bezel with stenciled labels reading "GST", "TEP", "SIM", and "TTG". These are standard acronyms used with electronic, and other, test equipment. Respectively, they stand for Ground System Test, Test Evaluation Plan, Scientific Instrumentation Module, and Time To Go.
The phone number that David used to call the NORAD W.O.P.R. computer was 399-2364.
In the beginning sequence, there is a sign next to the door to the missile launch room that reads, "Anyone urinating in this area will be discharged".
When John Badham took over as director he changed the photographic process. It's possible to see changes in the frame lines between old and new footage.
The WOPR, as seen in the movie, was made of wood and painted with a metal-finish paint. As the crew filmed the displays of the WOPR, Special Effects Supervisor Michael L. Fink sat inside and entered information into an Apple II computer that drove the countdown display.
The writers' main inspiration for the character of Professor Stephen Falken was Cambridge Professor Stephen Hawking. Hawking was originally approached to appear in the movie, but he declined because he didn't want the producers exploiting his disability.
The main application in the video game "SuperPower 2" is named "joshua.exe". The game is a global geopolitical simulation featuring nuclear warfare obviously inspired by the movie. Also the game interface is a top-down world map view similar to the NORAD screens in WarGames.
Martin Brest was fired as director a short while into production due to creative differences. He has stated that he took NORAD'S control center layout and did a scaled down version of it for "Beverly Hills Cop"'s police control center.
Joshua, Stephen Falken's deceased son (and subsequent name for the AI machine), is the same as that of the computerized mobile mechanical arm in Demon Seed.
The second launch code, which was the one stolen by Joshua before at DEFCON 4, was JDB or JOB 9515 VNS. This could be a reference to Job 9:5-15.
In the original script NORAD ends up giving David a part-time job, and he works as McKittrick's assistant; just as McKittrick said he started out as Falken's assistant.
The Tic-Tac-Toe scene was used as part of a montage for the "Hard to Explain" music video by The Strokes.
The studio had a Galaga and a Galaxian machine delivered to Matthew Broderick's home, where he practiced for two months to prepare for the arcade scene.
A video game version of this movie was made in 1984 for the ColecoVision, Commodore 64 and Atari 8-Bit Computer. The game started out greeting you as Professor Falken and you would play a game of Global Thermonuclear War. Your objective was to stop nuclear war from occurring by protecting the country with various military vehicles and weapons in a set time limit without reaching Defcon 1.
NORAD HQ set was built in the Cascades, the "Oregon" airport was really Boeing Field, "Goose Island" is really Anderson Island in the southern part of Puget Sound (all in Washington). The last ferry off the island really is at 6:30, and you really are stuck there if you miss it.
The keypad lock tones heard when the guard unlocks the infirmary door are the tones used by touch-tone telephones. The tones heard correspond to dialing 222333 on a touch-tone phone.
The film inspired the computer game "DEFCON: EVERYBODY DIES"
The infirmary door lock keypad has 16 buttons. With a six-digit code as audibly signified as using only two of those buttons, each pressed three times in succession, there would be only 120 possible combinations. Adding the restriction that they be adjacent to each other, there would be only 24 possible combinations for David to try, and only 12 if they were known to be adjacent horizontally.
The tunnel and exterior used for the entrance into NORAD (Griffith Park) is the same tunnel used in the climax of "Back to the Future Part II"