The first time Neo and Trinity meet, at the club:

Neo: Who are you?

Trinity: My name is Trinity.

Neo: Trinity. [beat] The Trinity? That cracked the IRS d-base?

Trinity: That was a long time ago.

Are there any details about this? Why did she hack the IRS database? Was it before she was freed? Did it have anything to do with the fight against the machines?

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    Unless my memory is playing tricks on me it was very briefly hinted at in Detective Story (Animatrix), but I'll have to check later. (+1) – bitmask Nov 26 '13 at 15:35
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    For people not from the USA: IRS = Internal Revenue Service – unor Nov 26 '13 at 15:43
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    I can't recall, but was there anything indicating she did that before or after she was aware of the Matrix? I'd guess it was before. – thegrinner Nov 26 '13 at 15:52
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    @Kevin aren't most people freed as children? IIRC the risk of removing adults from the Matrix is too high and they made an exception for Neo. I mean it's possible that she hacked the IRS database as a ten year old or something... – evilsoup Nov 26 '13 at 16:51
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    @evilsoup - however we aren't told what defines a 'child'. Except IIRC there's that 16/17 year old kid that follows Neo around in the second movie who says "You got me out, you saved me!". Only 6 months had passed between the events of movie 1 and 2, leading me to believe that Trinity could've been unplugged anywhere under the age of 18. (and there are plenty of hackers under that age around ;)) – Robotnik Nov 27 '13 at 7:47

There are no hard concrete facts given about that particular hack (that I am aware of), other than it was performed, and notorious enough for Trinity to be linked to it simply by name. But we can deduce a conclusion from what we are presented with.

tl;dr: Trinity hacked the IRS database before being unplugged. She, like Neo, had a life inside the Matrix before being brought into the real world by Morpheus.

Disclaimer: Do note that what follows is my personal interpretation, and as such, may be different from other's interpretations (including your own).

Parallels between Neo and Trinity

In the first few scenes where Neo is in his apartment, we are shown that Morpheus is presented as a terrorist/computer whizz/hacker to the people living inside the Matrix. There's a lot of news stories and articles flashing by on Neo's screen as he sleeps on his desk.

The next thing we find out is that Neo is marketing his skills as a hacker. He sells a program to 'Choi', and goes to warn him:

Neo: If you get caught using that...

The scene with Trinity in the club happens (I'll come back to this), and later we learn that he has an office job, that just wasn't fufilling or stimulating enough to keep his mind on his tasks. We know this because we are shown his working conditions:

  • His boss is overbearing and rules by fear (threatens Neo with losing his job if he is late again)
  • His cubicle has high walls, is only big enough for one person, and the cubicle opposite is unoccupied (No work colleagues/friends to vent steam with)
  • All the cubicles look exactly the same. (Menial job with no variety)
    • He doesn't even have much in the way of personal belongings there, just what is in his bag.

So why is all this important? Because we've been shown that Neo is a bored computer whizz unhappy with his lot in life and sick of the status quo, who gets back at 'the man' by writing and selling hacks.

But even that is not enough. Which is why Neo was collating this data, trying to find out as much about Morpheus (and the Matrix) as possible.

"That's all well and good, but what has that got to do with Trinity?"

Because before Neo and Trinity met, Morpheus had his eye on Neo (as a potential 'One'), and tasked his crew to watch him closely. Trinity saw a lot of herself in Neo, which made her identify with him closely:

Cypher: You weren't supposed to relieve me.
Trinity: I know, but I felt like taking a shift.
Cypher: You like him, don't you? You like watching him.
Trinity: Don't be ridiculous.

So what parallels was Trinity drawing between herself and Neo? There's the obvious searching for Morpheus and the Matrix, Trinity confirms for us in the club scene that that's exactly what she was doing.

Trinity: I know why you're here, Neo. I know what you've been doing … why you hardly sleep, why you live alone, and why night after night, you sit at your computer. You're looking for him...It's the question that drives us, Neo. It's the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did.

Trinity used to be just like Neo, that she also was a bored computer whizz unhappy with her lot in life and sick the status quo. who gets back at 'the man' by... doing stuff.

What stuff, you ask? An educated guess would be hacking into the IRS database. But we can do better than an educated guess.

"It was a long time ago"

If you've ever had a drastic/traumatic change in your life, you'll know the feeling when you look back on your old life: it seems so long ago, and sometimes its almost like you're reliving someone else's life.

Script writers and novelists love this trope, the idea of a sudden (and usually traumatic) shift in someone's life, leaving them looking wearily back at their past selves, either with a sense of longing, or a sense of "how was I that dumb/innocent/oblivious?"

With Trinity and Neo (and us, the first time we watched the movie) the traumatic incident that changed them forever was their 'rebirth' into the real world, and subsequent explanations of the machines and the Matrix.

In fact, it completely destroyed their preconceptions of the world around them. One could argue that Trinity and Neo were oblivious to the reality of what the Matrix was, before being unplugged. So Trinity's line:

Trinity: That was a long time ago.

Is just her reminiscing on the "lost obliviousness" of her former self. A time where institutions like The IRS, Police etc were (in her mind) real entities, not constructs of a virtual world.


Trinity hacked the IRS database before being unplugged from the Matrix. Her reasons for why she picked the IRS are unknown, but we can deduce from her backstory that she was a bored computer whizz who -unhappy with the status quo-, decided to get back at 'the man' by hacking things.

We can also deduce that the IRS was one of her more notorious hacks, as simply by hearing her name, Neo was able to link her to that particular hack.

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  • But... this interpretation is somehow likely, still its conclusion 'as a fact' cannot be confirmed, at least via logic, from what was presented. OK I get it that this is an interpretation, just whining. :) One big concern is what evilsoup told, that people are normally freed 'before a certain age'. Leaves this possible but was not considered explicitly. It also doesn't explain why Trinity would pick the IRS specifically. Was it just a coincidence? A big-enough task? Is (was always) Trinity a more able hacker than Neo (since Neo goes 'wow')? Is it out of possibility that she hacks from outside? – n611x007 Nov 27 '13 at 11:40
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    Unfortunately we've had only got scarce details about Trinity's life. All I've done is extrapolated from there :). I mentioned in a comment to evilsoup above than we know at least they take kids as old as 16, so like I said its possible Trinity was a rebelling teenager when she hacked the IRS. as for why she did it who knows? A compelling target? Trouble with money? Its never explicitly stated, but the fact she is famous because of it means she may have done it simply for the notoriety. – Robotnik Nov 27 '13 at 13:22
  • As for whether Trinity is a better hacker, its surely possible, but I don't think Trinity spends her time hacking into the matrix from the outside (unless under orders for a mission). Remember that they have to actually 'hack into' the matrix, which they're doing so wirelessly, so maintaining a connection outside of a direct mission is probably a huge risk. Also I can't see why she would want to - she wouldn't have any ties left to that world, and she wouldn't know who she could trust either – Robotnik Nov 27 '13 at 13:29
  • I was thinking exactly about something tying to a mission. In Reloaded, she does just that. She does it from expertise, no downloading knowledge like with the helicopter. Can be past knowledge, Construct training, mission experience, something else and any of these combined, though. – n611x007 Nov 27 '13 at 15:43

I would also believe that Morpheus is especially looking for people who are already trying to "beat the system" because they are highly unhappy with it and want to actively hurt the system or test the system (psychology).

So it may be the reason WHY Trinity was selected by Morpheus to leave the Matrix. She (like Neo) would be a good candidate for that, because she is who she is.

It is possible, that Trinity could be handled as a Treat for the system (the matrix) or as an already bugged entity, which may or may not be neccessary to get her out of the matrix.

If you pull out a random person out of the matrix, this person may not be able to accept the new situation. I think Morpheus knows this fact and therefore chooses people like Trinity or Neo.

And I think, that just because how Trinity reacts to Neos question about the hack, that Trinity is treatening this as an "old" life which she don't want to think about, because it was a lie and what she did is not considered special any more.

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Although there's no specific evidence of when the hack took place (pre or post her being released from the Matrix), we do know from an earlier version of the script that the hack was aimed at the IRS filing centre in Kansas City, Missouri.

TRINITY: My name is Trinity.

NEO: Trinity? The Trinity? The Trinity that cracked the I.R.S. Kansas City D-Base?

The Matrix: Script (1996)

In real life, this centre is a main hub for the processing of 1040 personal filings, so an aggressive hack of their database would potentially disrupt the ability of an ordinary citizens to...

"pay your taxes".

... Something that Morpheus indicates is a key part of maintaining the Matrix system.

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