I have a question that no amount of Google-Fu will help. Searching for the flash, computers and programming only yields results in the computing realm.

Given the following image:

The Flash stating that he can move faster than an attosecond

And a calculation that the Flash can move at 23,759,449,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 x C (the speed of light) according to the video below:

Based on his raw speed, I believe that he can process information faster than the fastest computer ever could. I don't have calculations on how the Flash's speed correlates to clock speed, but it is hard to believe that he would need a computer.

Would the Flash ever need a computer/program or find one useful and would he be able to tolerate how slow these devices are?

Additionally, is this documented in any of the comics?

  • 1
    Related/Possible Dupe: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/5926/…
    – Skooba
    Oct 15, 2016 at 17:04
  • The question is related, but not a duplicate. Oct 15, 2016 at 17:05
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    Comics question? Google-fu useless? Thaddeus is your man!
    – Rand al'Thor
    Oct 15, 2016 at 18:04
  • Thinking speed != processing power or any other feature a modern computer offers us. Oct 17, 2016 at 21:44
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    Possibly too off & away, but this question makes me think of an episode of "Stargate: SG1". Alien devices pushed the team to amazing levels of physical and mental ability. Dr. Carter was shown typing up some research into a laptop. She'd blur on the keyboard for a furious minute, then sit back and sip a drink while the buffer and computer caught up. Composing her next pages, I suppose.
    – Blaze
    Oct 25, 2018 at 15:24

3 Answers 3


In most incarnations of the character, Barry Allen, is a forensic scientist. He uses a computer for the same reason most forensic scientists would. To collect and organize data for the later use of other forensic scientists or police officers, as needed.

panel from The Flash #1

In Flash #1 (2011) we see Barry using a number of computers and tablets to reference a variety of scientific databases while investigating a case. He doesn't seem disturbed by their slowness.

There is one reason no one has addressed which is is the most important aspect of dealing with computers:

  • A computer can perform multiple tasks at remote locations simultaneously. An artificial intelligence could make multiple decisions regarding different circumstances at completely different locations at the same time.

  • While the Flash could conceivably, move quickly enough between locations to appear as if he were in more than one place at a time, a computer could perform billions of operations per second, each with a result at a different location.

  • This simultaneous operation is one of the reasons even the Flash might be inclined to use a computer because it expands his already prodigious capability significantly.

  • Another aspect of computer technology is the ability to permanently retain information on thousands of subjects and make connections between that information. The Flash can with his increased psychology move through that information and retain it temporarily but a computer stores that data longer and more effectively. Information in computers can be shared with others as well.

  • One other note: We are not aware of what long-term effects of accelerating the Flash's awareness may have on his psychology. This may be the reason he returns to his default speed of awareness of the Universe whenever he is not active as the Flash.

In his secret identity as the Flash, he has been seen for decades making use of computer technology as a part of the Justice League with no serious difficulties.

  • Granted most of the technology used by the League is light years beyond the capacities of normal computer technology, but it is safe to assume, Barry can and does use one in his day to day existence when he wants to collect information about a variety of topics and may not be able to leave where he is (at superspeed) to acquire it the information first hand.

  • For example: The Great Wall of China. If Barry wanted to know about the Great Wall of China, he could learn about it from the Internet on his home computer. It would be slow, unless he has had it upgraded to operate specifically for him at altered rates but he could do it.

  • He could also run to China and see it first hand. Visually satisfying, great for getting a sense of scale, distances and the like, but this method does not do much for getting historical data.

  • He could, if he were so inclined, learn to speak Chinese (at least temporarily) and read works about it from Chinese libraries. Likely to be more historically accurate and it shouldn't take him more than a few hours to acquire the skills needed to absorb whatever information he is looking for. (We have seen him acquire the skills required to rebuild an entire building in about 30 seconds.)

  • If he wanted more personal data, he could talk to a native historian about it. His capacities give him a number of ways of acquiring information and skills.

Most computer technology is likely to be very slow when any Speed-Forced enhanced speedster is operating at a heightened cognitive ability, but since the Flash can change his awareness of the passage of time, he can simply reduce his expectations and his speed of cognition to make them bearable if he is forced to.

  • Given his ability to remember information and draw conclusions from that information for short periods of time, it makes sense Barry would likely spend time in libraries acquiring the information he needs by reading related books on subjects since he can acquire the information he needs in easy to collect, discrete elements called books.

We have watched the Flash learn the skills required to repair an entire building destroyed in a fire, from scratch, including all of the construction skills, learning to read construction plans, and using his abilities to completely reconstruct a building damaged in a fire in less than an hour.

Flash has saved people from a fire

Flash learns architecture from library books

Flash rebuilds a building

  • If he has a computer designed to accommodate his learning capacity, such as the Justice League computers, he can acquire information as fast as the technology can deliver it (which is likely still slower than he can absorb it) all things being equal.

  • Given his ability to acquire skills, he could simply create a computer which can work at rates he finds easy enjoyable easily enough by altering the software and how it presents information for him. For all we know, he has done this for his own home computer use assuming the League has not provided him with such technology for its members.

As far as that image goes: The image is canon but invalidates decades of Flash's appearances and the most common appearances of his powers. It depicts an extreme which is almost never seen in comics and should be treated as the exception, not the rule. If it was, there would NEVER be any Flash comics if he were operating at that level for very long.

  • So the Flash can learn really quickly, but not as quickly as the image in the question implies?
    – Adamant
    Oct 16, 2016 at 22:39
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    While the attosecond image is for the mainstream universe's Flash (the Injustice Flash is not the same as the mainstream Flash, so his limits may vary) it has been established all Flashes can learn at superfast speeds if they wants to. But the going rule is, the faster he learns it the shorter his retention of it. Something like chess is easy enough to teach with videos at superspeed but not everything can be taught (or learned) that way. Oct 17, 2016 at 0:09
  • When you mention that image, you're referring to the "Attosecond" image correct? Oct 17, 2016 at 6:57
  • I wonder how he paid for all that steel. Did he leave money on the counter of the steel beam manufacturer? If so, how did he earn that money - maybe he read Day Trading for Dummies and beat the market using his speed. Jan 30, 2017 at 16:01

I don't exactly understand what you're asking, but in one scene of Injustice: Gods Among Us (Year 1, Chapter 26), Flash asks the Watchtower computer to display its knowledge on chess at Flash speed:

Flash accesses the Justice League library in the Watchtower

I also think your question is kind of answered here, as pointed out by Valorum; basically, Flash can regulate his own perception of time - he doesn't always think at light speed.

Another point: in The Flash series, Barry Allen is the author of Gideon, an artificial intelligence.

  • So basically what you're saying is the Watchtower/Gideon computer can process information faster than the Flash? Does that mean that the Flash needs computers and has use for computers and programming them to help him? Oct 15, 2016 at 17:12
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    @DodziDzakuma - I'm saying some computers are able to provide information at super-fast rates suitable for Flash; I'm saying he doesn't always think very fast; I'm also saying, since he created Gideon, he obviously needs computer and an A.I. for some reason, possibly for same reason Tony Stark has one. Oct 15, 2016 at 17:15
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    Just because Flash can think fast doesn't necessarily mean he can process large amounts of data in his head, or remember lots of data over time. Things that computers and AIs are designed for, no matter how fast they are. Oct 15, 2016 at 19:00
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    For the record: the post you are referencing was not written by @Valorum, it was written by me. Oct 16, 2016 at 20:23
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    @ThaddeusHowze - it was referenced by Valorum in a comment here (now deleted). I know you're the author, and it's really an exemplary answer, a level I'm trying to reach myself. Alas, I'm too lazy. Oct 17, 2016 at 16:33

I don't think the question "Does the Flash have use for a computer? " is quite accurate; after all, heroes like Superman, Mr. Terrific, Brainiac-5 and Batman all have either enhanced thinking capacity or super genius intellect [in the case of Brainy, he's actually part computer!] and they all use computers easily enough. Superman can think almost as quick as the Flash, and has used computers before, both earth and Kryptonian tech, to figure things out. No, I think what's being asked is more: "Because the Flash thinks and processes information so quickly, would using a computer more slow him down, hinder him or help him?"

In which case, I'd have to say.... that depends upon the computer.

Let me give you an example:

In The Flash #163 Wally West's Flash was a newly wed to his wife Linda. They got a "late wedding gift" from "Uncle Toby", who turned out to be the Turtle.

enter image description here

What it was in actuality was a hyper-sped up recording which was put on a loop and played to feed Wally clues as to the position of a number of bombs that were gonna threaten some of his hero friends [Batman, Superman, Aquaman, Raynor-Green Lantern] within literally under 2 seconds or less.

enter image description here

The whole thing was an elaborate trick to force Flash to move beyond light speed when he finally got to the Turtle's base in order to power the villain's Time Travel device. But to do so, Wally had to figure out some of the clues left on the automated computer which was running the execution program.

enter image description here

Flash "backtracks" the signal to the mainframe, which, though powerful, is nowhere near quick enough to spit out the information for him to find the bombs, which were all set to go off simultaneously.

enter image description here

Note where Flash says "The damn thing doesn't scroll fast enough to do _me_any good." He didn't say that it's information was useless.... just that the device wasn't quick enough, relatively, to get the information to him in the time necessary for him to act. So, what did Wally do?

Simple: he basically upgraded the computer to a Super Computer Mark XXIV with advanced parts and increased its processing speed exponentially!

enter image description here

The exact words Flash used were "Now I know the location each hero is being lured to." The "now" is telling, because without the computer, the locals would have been some very specific information Flash would have had no real way of knowing. Yes, he could have theoretically run all over the US to find them in the given time.... but even wit his speed, it's unlikely he could be in 5 different places at once under normal circumstances.

So yes, even though Flash does think much, much, much more quickly than your average computer, that doesn't mean he has no use for them. It just means that, due to the nature of his powers, it would likely have to be a computer which can "keep up" with him to be of any practical good.

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