Beyond the limits of the technology of the real-world at the time the first film was made, has the seemingly low complexity of the computer interfaces ever been effectively retconned?

For example, in Alien 3 they don't have computers capable of speech at the prison, but the technology must exist because 1) it appears to be a fairly simple procedure to plug a Bishop-series android into a computer\flight recorder and 2) the Nostromo seemed to have speech capability built in (as an output at least).

Are the corporations that run everything really just so cheap that they can't spring 10 credits for some horrible headphones?

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    Allow me to put in my plug for not retconning every damn thing that becomes obsolete. Just take the universe on its own merits, already. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Mar 18 '12 at 21:19
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    A note, speech output is an order of magnitudes easier than speech input – Izkata Mar 18 '12 at 21:48
  • But speakers are relatively simple devices... I just find it very hard to grasp that a planet that has a large industrial facility and an attached prison (or vice versa) doesn't have a computer with a speaker. – erdiede Apr 7 '12 at 18:06

I'm going to guess it's for the same reason that NASA's technology seems to be so simple – after all, the iPhone in your pocket has more computing power than every system on the Space Shuttle. These systems have to work reliably in hostile and unpredictable environments, and be readily repairable.

Also, available power has to be conserved (which might also explain the dim lighting), and every bell and whistle increases overall power consumption.

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    Look at the Voyager probes, still going strong after 30 years. There is certainly something to be said for simplicity. – Xantec Mar 18 '12 at 20:27
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    Agreed. A touch screen/all software interface may look nice, but if it shatters/crashes you're usually out of luck. A switch/button can be circumvented, to a degree, in an emergency. – Dylan Yaga Mar 19 '12 at 16:16

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