Exhibits At the Museum

This Day in History

Today: August 23, 2014
Harrison Dit Morse, one of the programmers, looks at a script being printed on the TX-0

October 26, 1961

Saga, a Silent Shoot-Em-Up Western Playlet, Made on the TX-0 Computer with Help from Douglas Ross

MIT’s TX-0, a very early general purpose transistorized computer, is used to write the program for Saga, and was comprised of 4,096 words of magnetic core storage. The Western playlet was run on a CBS special for MIT's 100th anniversary, and in the film, 13,000 lines of code choreographed the movements of each object. A line of direction was written for each action, which were as granular as the movement of each actor’s hand, even if it went wrong. For example, at one point in the show, the sheriff put his gun in the holster of the robber which resulted in a never ending loop. Computers are commonplace in filmmaking today, but Saga was one of the earliest films to implement computer code in its production and writing.