In TRON: Legacy we find that Kevin Flynn had designed a new Grid, wherein the majority of the movie takes place. While the original Grid was primarily a construct of the MCP's and therefore presumably ran on ENCOM servers, whose hardware did the new Grid run on?

  • The Grid in the original TRON definitely took place in ENCOM's servers. One of the plot points was that the MCP was trying to take over other systems, but had failed, so the only place the MCP possibly could be or could control were ENCOM systems.
    – user1027
    Jan 13 '12 at 19:46

I was definitely under the impression that the hardware was located in the basement of Flynn's Arcade. He may have setup something (legal or otherwise) to ensure that power was never lost to the computer equipment. In case he happened to be inside.

Because the Master Control Program was likely running on a mainframe or cray machine I think it can be inferred that Flynn had installed a similar machine to his basement circa 1992 hardware. If you look at the machine in the movie is a quite large.

Sam Flynn sits at a desk he's partially brushed the dust off of.  Several monochrome text windows are displayed in light blue on black.  His hands are on the keys of a projected keyboard in the same colours.  Other equipment is visible behind him, including the laser.

In this image you can see the large computer case on the left (to the right of Sam). It appears to be about as large as an office copy machine. There is probably additional hardware underneath the touch screen interface as well.

The uptime on the computer reads:

Sam's hand brushes aside a thick layer of dust revealing the glowing text "20:11:20:16:22:16:34"

20 years, 11 months, 20 days, 16 hours, 22 minutes, and 16 seconds

  • 3
    Possible, but then who was maintaining the hardware? Again, Alan didn't seem to be in on it and the amount of dust in Kevin's secret lab makes it seem that no one had been down there in a very long time. 20 or so years is along time for a computer to run 24x7 with no maintenance and no hardware failures.
    – Xantec
    Jan 13 '12 at 19:26
  • 10
    @Xantec Honestly, that's one of the least ridiculous things I've seen a computer do in a movie.
    – user1027
    Jan 13 '12 at 19:45
  • @JackBNimble You may want to add that this also explains tr scene at te end of the film. Sam makes a copy of the Grid to some storage he had on him, then turns it off. If the Grid wasn't on that server, this scene makes no sense.
    – user1027
    Jan 14 '12 at 21:10
  • We don't know that he didn't also turn off the Grid. See my question: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/9091/… Jan 15 '12 at 2:29

It’s obvious that Flynn was the only person aware that the computer system combined with the digitizing laser can transfer a human into the computer. He obviously tells Sam about it but as Sam says at one point while talking with his father about the ISOs. He tells his father that he always thought his statements where sales lines. These are not his exact words but it is what he meant. I am sure if Sam knew for sure that his father was going to the Grid each night after work when he disappeared he would have went looking for him.

To answer the question about the hardware; It was the hardware in the Arcade, hidden in the secret office below the Arcade. Even though the Arcade had been closed, Kevin Flynn was rich, he was the largest shareholder of ENCOM so I am sure he would have made arrangements to have the power bill for the Arcade to be paid by ENCOM no matter what. This is why the Arcade still had power to turn on the Games and the Sign and why the server was still running. But if the computer had been powered down correctly all data would have been saved to storage in its current state.

This brings up the question. If the system had been set to auto power down if no interaction within say 72 hours. Would Kevin Flynn still be Young? Because he is a human in digital form as long as the system is running he is ageing. Clu and the other programs do not age because they are programs, but Kevin is a user. I think he would still be young had the system powered off and everything saved in it’s current state until Sam would have come in and powered on the system. As it stands though the system was running all this time.

The touchscreen is a bit much for a system built prior to 1989. Kevin disappeared in 89 so the system would have to be built prior to 89 for him to have been using it for some time before being trapped. Even if it was a Cray Server they did not have touchscreens that I am aware of.

@tombull89 The visuals that we see are the inner workings of the Grid, the system its self does not have to process graphical data. If it wasn’t for a screen to be required for a GUI interface for a user the system would not need a graphics card at all. It’s kind of like the inside of your body. We know that our bodies are made up of matter which is made up of particles so small that you need an electron microscope to see them. But just because we can’t see them does not mean that they are not doing what they usually do. Remember in the original movie when Kevin is communicating with Clu trying to hack into ENCOM he only sees Text output to a monitor. But Clu sees himself navigating computer systems riding around in a tank.

  • 1
    You take issue with the idea of having a touchscreen in 89, but not the idea of a digitizing scanner sucking a human into a computer?
    – phantom42
    Dec 26 '12 at 20:53
  • 1
    @phantom42: Sure. The digitizing scanner is the premise; if we can't suspend disbelief for that then we shouldn't be watching. The touchscreen, on the other hand, is an anachronism.
    – Tynam
    Dec 26 '12 at 21:31
  • Commercial touchscreens have been available since the mid '80s. The action movie "Die Hard" (1988) even had one in an early scene.
    – Jim Green
    Dec 27 '12 at 14:49
  • I worked on a project on the Apple II in the early 1980s which had a touchscreen. It did require a special pen. The resolution was only for character cells. At the beginning of this phase of the project, the team was required to give a demo to the suits, but this was before the hardware was working. So one of the programmers, out of sight, manually made the pen appear to be working by using the arrow keys to mimic the selection, while another person pretended to use the pen. Advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.
    – NomadMaker
    Jun 10 at 4:04

Sam Flynn went into the hidden room of the arcade and found an old UNIX server still running, with user "flynn" logged in. The cylindrical things next to the tabletop display were supposed to be the server and disk storage, I think. The look of the cabinets is consistent with that era. The new grid must have been running on that server.

  • old UNIX server - I find it hard to believe even the most advanced computers of the day would be able to support and run The Grid and all the visuals and "AI-like" behaviour. Although I suppose "what is the system requirements of The Grid" is another question...
    – tombull89
    Jan 19 '12 at 9:54
  • Grid <> hardware. At the heart TRON movies are fantasy with a sci-fi flavour not science fiction. There does not have to be a one to one correlation with the alternate reality of TRON and the hardware that functions as a gateway to it.
    – user11154
    Dec 7 '12 at 14:06

Well, given that Flynn had taken over ENCOM and become the new CEO it would seem logical to me that he at least started it on their hardware. Though by Sam's time, it was more likely probably in the cloud and running using distributed computing models across the internet.

  • To do that would mean Kevin had had someone on the outside assisting him. Since Alan had appeared surprised when mentioning the page he got from the Arcade I tend to say it wasn't him. Who then was the mysterious benefactor?
    – Xantec
    Jan 13 '12 at 18:44
  • "Natural progression". As ENCOM upgraded their servers, the grid moved up to better hardware. When ENCOM networked their servers, it gained access to the corporate cloud. And even in the original TRON, ENCOM was tied in to global networks (the MCP was reaching out to loads of other servers, including military and governmental). So once the grid had access to the corporate cloud, it would've been easy work for Flynn to work around any firewalls and get access to the outside world and the internet.
    – eidylon
    Jan 13 '12 at 18:48
  • 2
    Considering the hostile nature of the board it seems unlikely that random programs would be running on the servers with huge(?) files sitting in memory, without anyone noticing. Or was the Grid 2.0 the first example of a rootkit/hypervisor?
    – Xantec
    Jan 13 '12 at 18:54
  • One would have to assume Flynn was careful in setting it all up when he began his work.
    – eidylon
    Jan 13 '12 at 18:58
  • 1
    That is a heck of a lot of fore-sight for someone who couldn't see his own digital clone turning on him.
    – Xantec
    Jan 13 '12 at 19:03

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