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In Star Wars: A New Hope, this dialogue between Uncle Owen and C3PO occurs:

OWEN: What I really need is a droid that understands the binary language of moisture vaporators.

THREEPIO: Vaporators! Sir -- My first job was programming binary load lifter... very similar to your vaporators. You could say...

OWEN: Do you speak Bocce?

THREEPIO: Of course I can, sir. It's like a second language for me... I'm as fluent in Bocce...

OWEN: All right shut up! Turns to Jawa I'll take this one.

THREEPIO: Shutting up, sir.

But how can this be true if he had his memory wiped after Revenge Of The Sith? I'm sure the rebels would have no use for moisture vaporators on the Tantive IV.

  • I can assume that languages were hard-programmed and could not be wiped. Wipe only concerned memory of people and events, otherwise such a wipe would render a droid completely useless. – TimSparrow Jul 4 '17 at 15:17
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    From the script on IMSDB: "Vaporators! Sir -- My first job was programming binary load lifter... very similar to your vaporators..." – Remy Lebeau Jul 4 '17 at 15:29
  • Edited in the dialogue in question. – DisturbedNeo Jul 4 '17 at 15:32
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    Maybe he worked on vaporators and load-lifters when he was owned by the Skywalker family after The Phantom Menace but before "The Attack of the Clones*. – RichS Jul 4 '17 at 16:26
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    The Tantive IV wouldn't need vaporators, but it could well have used binary load lifters. I see no reason to take this claim at anything other than face value. – Harry Johnston Jul 5 '17 at 1:06
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Edited Answer

As rs.29 points out in the comments, C-3PO was originally a fully functioning protocol droid that really did work as a programmer of binary load lifters before he was deposited into a junkyard on Tatooine and rebuilt by Anakin Skywalker.

The rebels simply wiped only the parts of his memory relating to their location, leaving his earlier life, including his previous jobs, intact.

Original Answer

C-3PO had his memory wiped more than once, but most importantly he had his memory wiped whilst aboard the Tantive IV to remove any information he had about the rebellion, before being dumped on Tatooine.

This "job" that he believes to have had is almost certainly a false memory, given that we know he was built by Anakin Skywalker and has never had a real job.

Bonus Out-of-Universe answer: It's his genuine backstory at the time. Memory wipes can selectively remove specific pieces of information, and so the rebels only removed anything regarding their whereabouts. When the original Star Wars came out, they weren't even certain that they'd get enough money to make one sequel, let alone a saga including prequels. At a later time, Threepio as a character was incorporated into the story via Anakin in A Phantom Menace, but when the original Star Wars came out, they didn't have to worry about such continuity, so it's largely a throw-away line.

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    C3PO was not built by Anakin, it was re-built by him. It had previous masters before Anakin and somehow ended up on junk yard where boy found it. starwars.wikia.com/wiki/C-3PO – rs.29 Jul 4 '17 at 18:41
  • Oh, my bad, I thought that was Legends for some reason. So I guess my Out-of-Universe answer is a better In-Universe answer than my In-Universe answer is? Oops – DisturbedNeo Jul 5 '17 at 9:51
  • "C-3PO was originally a fully functioning protocol droid that really did work as a programmer of binary load lifters before he was deposited into a junkyard on Tatooine" There is nothing verified in the referenced canon article to support this being prior to his time with Anakin. The article presumes that his reference to his "first job" was before Anakin, but only cites his quote in ANH. – phantom42 Jul 5 '17 at 13:02
  • When else would he have been able to hold down a job for any length of time? – DisturbedNeo Jul 5 '17 at 16:20
  • There's a 20 year gap between eps 3 & 4 right now where his job(s) is completely unaccounted for. At the end of ep3, Bail Organa takes possession of him, but in ep4, 3PO says that captain antilles was their last master. – phantom42 Jul 6 '17 at 15:21
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We don't know everything that happened to C3PO between ROTS and ANH. He probably had his memory wiped many times, he is a bit of a blabbermouth.

In the Rebels episode "droids in distress" we see that R2 and C3PO were sent on missions. So he would not have had spent the whole time on the Tantative IV

In the (sadly) non-canon Star Wars Droids TV show and Comic, they have many adventures all in this time frame.

So it is entirely possible that he is telling the truth as far as he knows. It is also feasible that he was blagging to get away from the Jawas.

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Perhaps he was lying; he was clearly keen to be bought off the jawas. Its not clear that lying is part of his programming, but Anakin originally intended him to be a protocol droid and a young child might well imagine that lying, or at least stretching the truth, would be necessary in such a role. Anakin may also have specifically included programming to make 3PO support any lies he told his mum.

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