2001: Is HAL IBM?


As if there weren’t enough Kubrick conspiracy memes floating about the auteur and his work, this interesting short video claims that the HAL 9000 computer that serves as the villain in 2001: A Space Odyssey is actually a veiled criticism of IBM.

Here is the gist:

For the most part audiences have assumed that HAL had genuinely made a mistake in predicting the AE-35 fault and that the conflict afterwards was due to HALs desire not to be shut down. However, there is plenty of evidence to support a much more sinister hypothesis … that HAL was actually ordered by mission control to kill the crew.

For starters there are a multitude of references to IBM. The three letters comprising HALs name come just before the letters I, B and M in the alphabet. This was claimed by Arthur C Clarke to be a coincidence, but the other references you’re about to see demonstrate that Kubrick simply did not want to publicly acknowledge the encoded references.

This analysis comes from Rob Ager who is by far my favorite out-there interpreter of Kubrick’s oeuvre.

Check out Ager’s video which argues that the murderous HAL was standing in for the murderous IBM (Of course this theory dovetails nicely with conspiracy theories that say that The Shining is a Holocaust film).

Stay Awake!


Joe Nolan was born under a bad sign on June 13th in Detroit, Michigan in the last Metal Year of the Dog. Polymath, provocateur, inter-media artist, his tell-tale signs have turned up in music, visual art, journalism, poetry, fiction, video and film. A double Gemini, his interests range from the pharmacology of phenomenology to fly fishing; from mysticism to mixed martial arts; from chaos science to chaos magick. Joe Nolan's Insomnia blog republishes to some of the most read counter-culture sites on the web and the Coincidence Control Network podcast which he hosts has been downloaded more than half-a-million times.He is recording his fourth CD in Nashville, Tennessee where he lives to the east of the Cumberland river on a little wooded lot dubbed Bohemian Walnut Grove.

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16 Comments on "2001: Is HAL IBM?"

  1. Ordered or programmed?

    I took it as though the mission was more important than human error. That the pure hard logic(left brain, Hal 9000) was not compatible with soft human emotional (right brain, the humans) bullshit. Possibly the humans were there along for the ride, and that the weapon/tool/Hal 9000 was no longer reliant on them once they reached the nothingness of space.

  2. I thought the shining was about how Kubrick faked the moonlanding

    • Love the Shining conspiracy theories – the moon landing hoax being a fave. Really fascinating stuff inspired by a great film .

  3. Chaos_Dynamics | Jun 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm |

    IBM Watson 1933 to IBM Watson 2013.

  4. This letter from/to Kubrick gives some perspective: http://www.lettersofnote.com/2013/01/does-ibm-know-that-hal-is-psychotic.html

  5. Stanley Kubrick purposefully named the computer HAL, which was the letters before IBM, so as not to use IBM. The article got it all wrong. There is no conspiracy here. I’m that old, and now someone’s putting a new spin on this, to have something to talk about.

  6. Ittabena | Jun 3, 2013 at 7:51 pm |

    My father was a computer analyst for a time. When this film came out Dad pointed this out. Clarke probably denied the connection on advise from his attorney. IBM likes to sue. Back when the film came out this was common knowledge in computer circles.

  7. bugstomper2 | Jun 3, 2013 at 9:38 pm |

    No no no. He purposly came up with HAL by choosing the letters in the alphabet just before I, B, & M. There’s no conspiracy here.

  8. Noah_Nine | Jun 4, 2013 at 1:57 am |

    The IBM stuff might be old news but never knew that HAL called a fake “checkmate” on the chessgame… interesting…

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