Floppy Disks, Trackballs and Netscape: A Look Back At All the Outdated Technology From the First ‘Mission: Impossible’
One of the cool things about the last Mission: Impossible, Rogue Nation, were its subtle nods to the first film in the franchise. Both movies begin with a cold open action sequence; both then immediately segue into very similar looking credits sequences (with Lalo Schifrin’s classic Mission: Impossible score). Then the hero of the film receives his top secret mission; first, he has a heavily coded conversation with a woman, who hands him a piece of analog recording technology that contains his briefing. The difference is that in the original Mission: Impossible from 1996, the analog device (a small video cassette) represents the cutting edge of entertainment technology. In Rogue Nation, that analog recording (a vinyl record) is now wildly archaic.
That’s not an isolated incident, either. A lot of tropes from the old Mission: Impossible get recycled in the last one. As before, Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt makes an emergency call to headquarters on a pay phone. He even says the same phrase to the man on the other end of the line when he picks up. (“Go secure.”) But in 1996, pay phones were still ubiquitous; in the 2020s, they look alien; even exotic.
It’s fun to watch both movies back to back and ponder just how much things have changed in the 25 years since that first Mission: Impossible movie. Some elements remain exactly the same (the 747 jet Ethan Hunt takes from Europe to America, for example, might still be in service somewhere). Others look hilariously out of date. In 1996, the internet was in its infancy. Many viewers had never even surfed the web when Brian De Palma’s thriller opened in theaters around the country. Those were the days of AOL, dial-up modems, and enormous cell phones with telescoping antennae. And since Ethan Hunt and his Impossible Mission Force were supposed to be at the very forefront of the digital revolution, all of this stuff is integrated into the story. In retrospect, a lot of it looks completely hilarious.
We’ve compiled some of the funniest and most dated technology from the movie into the gallery below. If you really want to set the mood, dust off your old, enormous laptop, plug it in to the nearest phone line, and wait for about 48 hours for the images to load. And while you’re waiting, you can imagine what we’ll say about Rogue Nation in 25 years.