In The Matrix, the people within the Matrix live in a simulated version of the year 1999. It's already been asked why the machines bothered with the Matrix at all, but let's assume that they had a good reason. My question is: why simulate 1999 or a similar year in which computers are prevalent?
It seems that those who get free, and notably Neo, benefit greatly from the knowledge of computers that they learn while growing up in the Matrix. So why didn't they simulate a year that was before computers, say 1890 or even something more primitive like 900 AD. If they had simulated one of these years, then the machines wouldn't have had as much problem if a human had managed to get free as the human would have no concept of what a computer was, meaning not only would they have greater difficulty conceptualizing the Matrix but also they wouldn't know how to operate computers and other technology that would ultimately be used to fight the machines.
I realize that there is Smith's line about how 1999 was "the height of human civilization", but it doesn't sound like not being in 1999 would make the Matrix any less effective at controlling humans. So why did the Matrix simulate 1999 instead of a pre-computer year?