During the early 80's I remember watching a movie (I don't believe it was a series) about a man whose brain could be programmed with various skills (actually a lot like The Matrix).

If memory serves whenever he would access these programmed skills it would show a brief cutaway to the old magnetic tape drives on those old computers. I also remember that it took sometime for these skills to be "remembered." A few of the skills learned were racecar driving, playing the piano, etc. I don't remember him keeping these skills indefinitely nor having more than one new skill at a time. I also believe the government used him as a kind of spy.

  • 1
    Could it be "Brainstorm" (1983) or "The Man with One Red Shoe" (1985), or in "Quantum Leap" Sam Beckett learned new skills when he jumped into people's bodies. Could you have combined more than one movie/series in your memory? Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 1:10
  • 1
    I can't believe this hasn't been mentioned yet, but are you possibly thinking of Johnny Mnemonic (Keanu Reeves movie) or The Pretender (the series)? Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 20:25
  • (P.S. If you watch the opening credits of Johnny Mnemonic, you might be a little freaked out at how accurately it described 2020/2021...) Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 20:54
  • It makes me think of Joe 90!
    – Danny Mc G
    Commented Aug 25, 2023 at 19:54

2 Answers 2


The Ultimate Imposter (1979 TV movie)?

This was, according to the 1 user review on IMDb.com. a failed "backdoor pilot" based on an episode of "The Six Million Dollar Man" TV series. It was episode 12 of season 4 and it had the same title. This movie debuted near the time that you indicated, but I wonder if you're remembering the series episode. The full movie is on YouTube, but I will post the trailer below. It includes scenes of the mc in a racing car and shows the old magnetic tape drives and old computers. In the movie, the mc could only retain the programmed information and skills for 72 hours.

  • 2
    Yup this is it. The moment i saw this scene I knew it was the right one. Good job.
    – MrInfinity
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 12:39
  • 2
    Oh my. Erin Grey.
    – Peter
    Commented Aug 25, 2023 at 20:32

Could this be Joe 90?

It follows the exploits of nine-year-old schoolboy Joe McClaine, who becomes a spy after his adoptive father invents a device capable of recording expert knowledge and experience and transferring it to another human brain. Armed with the skills of the world's top academic and military minds, Joe is recruited by the World Intelligence Network (WIN) as its "Most Special Agent".

The device used to download the skills was a big whirry tape thingie.

enter image description here

The episode International Concerto has him taking on the skills of a concert pianist and the episode The Race has him given the brain pattern of a Monte Carlo Rally driver.

Note that this was a TV show not a movie, but the pilot and the second episode were often shown together as an hour-long special.

  • Out of curiosity, did you try to add something at the bottom of the answer after the dashes?
    – Clockwork
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 15:59
  • Unfortunately it's not this. What i saw was definitely live action and the main character was an adult male. However this has so much of the stuff i remember i wonder if the movie was based on this.
    – MrInfinity
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 19:44
  • @MrInfinity - There was no Joe 90 film
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 20:27
  • 1
    @Clockwork - No. I was going to put the episodes below the line, then changed my mind.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 20:40
  • My bad I should have been clearer. The movie I was referring to was the one I was looking for. The Joe 90 show bares many of the same things I saw in the movie im looking for. Alas though its not Joe 90.
    – MrInfinity
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 22:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.