The 1992 movie Sneakers is the closest Hollywood has gotten to accurately portraying information technology in general, and computer security issues in particular. It was directed by Phil Alden Robinson, who also did the 1989 Field of Dreams. Starrynight also informs me that Branford Marsalis, the great sax player and brother to Wynton Marsalis, did a lot of work on the soundtrack.

The good guys are a "tiger team" of experts, who make a living by analyzing the security procedures, hardware and software of their clients in order to improve security. The introduction sequence shows them pulling off a combination of social engineering, surveillance, and good old-fashioned breaking & entering to withdraw a large sum of money from a bank.

Their leader is Martin Bishop (played by Robert Redford), an aging hacker whose leadership skills are more useful than his computer skills. The team of misfits includes Donald Crease (Sydney Poitier), an ex-CIA agent who's left government service for reasons unknown, Whistler (David Strathairn), a blind electronics genius, Mother (Dan Akroyd), the resident conspiracy-theory-spouting paranoid, and Carl (River Phoenix), the kid who gets stuck with the jobs the others can't or won't do (he seems to spend all his time in the ducting). They are joined by Liz (Mary McDonnell), Marty's ex-girlfriend.

The plot revolves around a decryption chip, one that supposedly can break into any American-made encryption system. Marty's past gets them involved in a wild chase involving Russian diplomats, fake NSA agents, a megalomanic villain (Cosmo, played by Ben Kingsley), and a murder or two. It takes all the team's skills, equipment, and a bit of luck to stay one step ahead of the various powers-that-be that want the chip, and when it is stolen, it is up to them to keep it out of the wrong hands.

What makes this movie so great is the spot-on portrayal of social engineering and other cracking techniques (no mysterious "virus" that magically eats up the enemy database), the surprising dearth of plot holes (or even scientific/technical holes), the mature, non-hysterical handling of issues (the main plot is chillingly prophetic, years before the Clipper chip came onto the scene), the humor (lots of inside jokes) and the extremely quotable lines. Of course, the top-caliber actors don't hurt a bit.

Even though I think the "no more secrets" ending is a bit of a strain on the credibility, it's still far better than Hackers, The Net, and all those other script-kiddie inspired movies out there. Its action sequences even give Mission Impossible, Enemy of the State, and others a run for their money.

Marty: Give him head?
Whistler: Be a beacon?

Most details from and various HBO trailers and interviews.
Sneakers is one of the four most-well-known bars in Jamestown, New York, along with Rusty Nail (Sports Bar/Meat Market), Mad Murdock's (Meat Market/Friendly Atmosphere), and Shawbuck's (Dance Club). Sneakers has the distinction of being a gay bar, so it is the subject of many jokes among the locals.

Sneakers has drag fashion shows, and supposedly plays really good music, according to my friends that frequent the establishment. The regulars are friendly to nongays, and many of my female friends go there so they can just dance and have a good time without worrying about men trying to pick them up.

Sneakers is located a block west from the corner of Foote Ave. and Allen St.

The invention of the sneaker was pretty much a direct result of the discovery of rubber vulcanization (Charles Goodyear), and the invention of the lock-stitch sewing machine (Elias Howe). One of the applications of vulcanized rubber that had huge popularity after its development was waterproof boots. Although these boots were very good for times when it was raining, or when one had to slog through muddy fields and paths, they were heavy, and quite warm.

Charles Goodyear's son, Charles Jr., was aware of the problems inherent with the design of the boots, and for some time tried to find an inexpensive way to affix light canvas tops to the waterproof rubber shoe bottoms. When he learned of his friend Elias Howe's success with the sewing machine, which was able to sew thick pieces of leather with ease, he knew he had found the solution.

The first pair of sneakers, called plimsolls, were manufactured in the 1870s, and have enjoyed much success, and many revisions since that time.

The term "sneaker", though, didn't come into use until about 1917, when U.S. Rubber began producing a shoe called Keds. The name sneaker came from the shoe's quiet motion, allowing someone wearing Keds to sneak up on other people. The word was coined by a marketing man for N. W. Ayer & Sons, Henry Nelson McKinney.

In modern parlance, sneakers may also sometimes be called tennis shoes. In the UK, they may still be referred to as plimsolls, or trainers.
Buchman & Groves, Fifty discoveries that changed the world. Scholastic, 1988.

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