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The original Timer in Sliders, built by Quinn out of a Motorola MicroTAC cell phone, displays a certain sequence on its LCD when activated or opened (approximation, characters do not translate exactly as letters):

GEnSEr LacGEN EnulAc uriEnu CAIuri chcCAI uLAchc

And sometimes three more sets of characters that can't be typed easily. See here for a video by a replica-maker comparing with a clip from the show, which makes it clearer. And thanks to Valorum for finding this fan-made animation (I believe from an Android app) that also shows it clearly.

Image of the Timer from Sliders

As each set of characters displayed ends in the 3 letters the preceding one began with, it almost appears to be scrolling text of one long string (from right to left):

uLAchcCAIuriEnulAcGenSEr

I've always wanted to know if this has any meaning, either in- or out-of-universe. Is it something to do with physics Quinn would have added? Is it a standard startup sequence used by LCD devices? Is it something to do with electronics the character or prop-maker would have put in? An inside joke? Or is it completely meaningless? In which case I'd love to know why it's there at all, did the prop maker feel that a random set of characters looked cooler?

I've tried researching this, on-and-off for over 20 years. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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    I never saw it as scrolling text. I saw it as a "cool LCD spinning animation" that had no meaning until the numbers resolved themselves. (I may be wrong, and I look forward to any insight answers may provide, if I am)
    – Steve-O
    Jun 7, 2018 at 3:27
  • i.stack.imgur.com/AmCKm.gif
    – Valorum
    Jun 7, 2018 at 6:27
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    For a moment, I was like "Sliders is 30 years old"? Thankfully it's only 23 years, I'm not that old yet! :)
    – Tronman
    Jun 7, 2018 at 10:23
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    Interesting question, though I feel like you'll be somewhat disappointed if you're looking for a sensible, in-universe answer. My guess is the propmasters just didn't want it to spell anything that could be misconstrued as offensive, either if viewed in full, or partly occluded by someone's shoulder or hand. Jun 7, 2018 at 12:49
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    @Vanguard3000 Hey if that ends up being the answer, I won't be disappointed. Just want to know. And if that was the answer, why have anything at all, etc etc. Also you're welcome! It's a shame they only made 2 and a half seasons... naglly.com/matrix_revisited_4.png Jun 7, 2018 at 23:18

1 Answer 1

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The "power-up preamble" sequence is actually the secret signatures of the timer's builders. "GEnSEr" is actually for Steven Genser, the engineer who developed the timer's electronics, while "CALurI" is for Mike Calouri, the propmaker who made the outer shell with the Motorola casing.

Genser' sequence...

That's funny! I built the original screen-used timers for the show in Vancouver, in 1994, along with Mike Caluori - whose name also appears in the power-up preamble (except spelled 'CALUrI' because of the 6-digit display restriction). I did the electronics and programming, and Mike modified the phone housings. The displays were non-multiplexed (ie. camera-safe and bright) and therefore used a huge amount of energy (consider 20mA per display segment / bargraph segment / status LED). No white LEDs back then, so an energy-wasting incandescent bulb ('fuse' style, if I remember correctly) in the business end. Also no LiPoly cells back then, so the 'hero' (functional) unit had an external battery pack on a tether. Nearly 2 Amps with everything lit, as I recall.

The CPU was a 68HC11E2 (2k internal eeprom) and I just recently stumbled across the original assembler source-code. There were several story-specific software mods made along the way. LEDs were driven from addressable 74HC595 parallel latches. There was no dedicated real time clock - just a real-time interrupt (among others - the whole thing was interrupt-driven), divided down from the crystal. It was also one of my early surface-mount boards.

Putting my last name (twice), amongst the jibberish in the preamble was a private joke. Nobody on the show even noticed until the second season. I also gave the same treatment (nearly identical preamble) to a digital countdown timer on a bomb for a Roger Moore MOV called 'The Man Who Wouldn't Die', in 1993.

I read an old forum on the RPF in which they had actually met Mr. Genser, a very nice man. He talked about the making of the prop, as well as the hell that he went through in both programming it and repairing it. The timer, as much as we all love it, was not an easy device to work with, especially with 1990's tech (single-strand wires that broke easily, incandescent bulbs that wasted energy and burned out quickly); he also reported that despite its bulk, there's deceptively very little room to work with on the inside of the unit. Mr. Genser also provided the original source code for people interested in building their own as close to the prop as possible. He was also quite amused with some of the theories that fans had about the origin of "GEnSEr;" someone once thought that it was short for "General Service."

Here's the full story right here and here

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  • I've taken the liberty of adding in a quote from the creator as well as inlining some links for you
    – Valorum
    Jan 25, 2019 at 8:48

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