Recreating Lord Nikon’s Laptop From Hackers

The outlandish computers from 1995’s Hackers are easily one of the most memorable elements of the iconic cult classic. In the film, each machine is customized to reflect the individual hacker that operates it, and feature everything from spray painted camouflage paint schemes to themed boot animations based on the owner’s personal iconography. But what might not be so obvious is that the real-life props took a considerable amount of hardware hacking before they were ready for their big-screen debut.

A group of dedicated Hackers fans have created a website to document, and ideally recreate, all the custom work that went into the various pieces of tech featured in the film. As explained by [Nandemoguy], the group’s latest triumph is a screen-accurate build of Lord Nikon’s laptop. The final product not only looks just like the machine used in the film, but thanks to the internal Raspberry Pi, is far more powerful than the original computer would have been.

Unless you’re on the team over at HackersCurator.com, you might not know that the laptops in the film were handmade chimeras that combined the external cases of various PCs with (usually) the internals of an Apple Powerbook 180c. Why the prop masters of the film would have gone through so much trouble to create the character’s computers is not immediately clear, but if we had to guess, presumably it was due to the requirements of the over-the-top graphical interfaces that are featured so heavily in the film.

At any rate, the replica created by [Nandemoguy] is built in much the same way. At least for the parts you can see on the outside, anyway. He goes through the considerable case modifications required to replace the original keyboard on the Toshiba Satellite T1850 with a Powerbook keyboard, which as you might have guessed, has been converted into a USB HID device with a Teensy microcontroller. He even cuts the ports off the back of the Mac’s motherboard and glues them in place around the backside of the machine. But everything else, including the LCD, is all new hardware. After all, who really wants to go through all that trouble just to have a fancy Powerbook 180c in 2019?

Even if you weren’t a fan of Hackers, the level of detail and effort put into this build it absolutely phenomenal. It’s interesting to see the parallels between this replica and the burgeoning cyberdeck scene; it seems like with a Teensy, a Raspberry Pi, and enough Bondo, anything can be turned into a functional computer.

25 thoughts on “Recreating Lord Nikon’s Laptop From Hackers

          1. I have to reply here.

            I asked abkut tye modem speed because it was announced in the film, actually it’s Kate’s new laptop if I remember.

            But while I’ve seen the movie a bunch of times, I missed that they leave out the “k” when whoever pronounces the modem speed. They gasp.it in such glowing terms. Back then it probably was fast, but not anymore.

          2. Here, the “k” was omitted, when talking about modems, speeds were sort-of standard, so you could not mix up slow and fast ones.

            Also – 28.8 was faster than that, because many modems had internal compression extensions. For text – up to twice faster or so?

  1. reminds me of that time in college i accidentally set myself as a developer on a digital-textbook site/company/account and then could not read the book because it was failing to load the developer binaries or because i was accessing from an unauthorized IP address (unauth for developing… at school).

    after a week of being CC’d between customer support and head-office with no fix in sight,
    i walked in there, told them what was wrong, why it was wrong, how it happened, why the mistake was due to thier fine-print (that i had actually read), and how to fix it, i also suggested they fix it right there and then on the spot

    next time someone refuses to tell you what the minimum operating system is needed for something you have already paid for, send them a letter from your lawer DEMANDING to know what operating system is required!

    in the end it was determined that a “brand-new” computer was not officially required afterall… several generations outdated was all that was required to print the damm thing… after my account was set back to student… as if a developer (employee) would need to pay to view anyway!

    after that i always felt like i needed a handle…

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