Gordon, a former computer programmer, started the research because he wanted to get a better idea of whether hacking movies would work as a teaching tool. But his love of hacking flicks dates back to childhood. "I blame my parents. When I was a child, the only movies we got to see were 'Tron' and 'War Games' and things like that," he said. They were the kinds of movies I looked at as a child, and lo and behold when I grew up I did a degree in computer science."
In the course of his work, Gordon discovered that hacking movies are older than most people realize.
The oldest movie cited in his study is 1968's "Hot Millions," starring Peter Ustinov. In the film Ustinov plays a criminal who uses social engineering techniques to impersonate a computer programmer and steal money, using a variety of fake identities.
Gordon nearly included "Desk Set," a 1957 Spencer Tracy - Katherine Hepburn movie where Hepburn's character discusses ways that she and her staff might destroy or hack into a computer system called EMILAC. But since they don't actually do any hacking, the film didn't make the cut.
Gordon's five favorite hacking films, in alphabetical order, are:
*"Hot Millions" -- " A really excellent representation of how hacking goes."
*"Independence Day" -- "A Mac hacking into an alien operating system and loading a virus. That's Steve Jobs' dream: The power of the Mac"
*"Sneakers" -- "You have to love Robert Redford."
*"Tron" -- A sentimental favorite, it was the first hacker movie he saw as a child. "Because Tron 2 is coming soon, that's a source of great excitement."
*"War Games" -- "A big fun one… It will always be remembered as being very important."