[[quoteright:350:[[Film/ANewHope http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/anewhope_screen_8481.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Well, it ''was'' a long time ago.]]

This trope is basically {{Zeerust}} applied to the digital era.

The page image represents what a computer display in ''Franchise/StarWars'' looks like. Now look anywhere at your screen, and compare to what your computer can do.

In a ScienceFiction program, the graphics quality of whatever computer is used is that of what computers were available at the time. Therefore, there are no screens in 1960s shows and there are no [=GUIs=] in the 1970s and 1980s.

In earlier eras, the writers probably didn't think computer graphics could improve. As the nature of computer advancements became more apparent, however, such limitations have become more about budget and imagination.

Arguably can be [[JustifiedTrope justified]] in a scenario when functionality is preferable to looks. After all, the last thing you want to see on the screen of your spaceship's on-board computer in the middle of a crucial operation is a graphics driver error. This is TruthInTelevision in a surprising number of cases, where complex graphics are not only unnecessary, but are actually a hindrance, or even ''dangerous''. (Although in the future, [[TechMarchesOn our graphic cards will probably be way better]])

Often Invoked to avoid being a CosmeticallyAdvancedPrequel.

See also ExtremeGraphicalRepresentation, HolographicTerminal, MagicFloppyDisk. Related to ScienceMarchesOn and TechMarchesOn.



[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* ''Anime/BubblegumCrisis'' was made in the late 80s and mostly used command line terminals.
* ''Anime/LegendOfGalacticHeroes'', apparently set in the late 3590s, also has bulky computers showing simplistic vector graphics.
** Not to mention floppy disks.
* In an obvious stylistic choice, ''Anime/KillLaKill'' is set at most TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture or possibly in a higher-tech alternate present, yet all the screens shown are low-res, grayscale LCD displays, even when they're attached to supercomputers or smartphones.
* ''Anime/RahXephon'', set in 2027, has computers with interfaces from [[http://dl.dropbox.com/u/4386762/rahxephon/old_x-windows.jpg Silicon Graphics' Irix,]] whose UI has remained largely unchanged since 1991.
* At least they did better than ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam'', which doesn't even have [=GUIs=] who knows how many centuries in the future.
** [[WordofGod Word of God]] has hinted that the "Universal Century" (the [[AlternativeCalendar main timeline]] of Gundam) begins in the mid-2100s, putting the original series into the early 23rd century. Given that the [[Anime/MobileSuitGundam first TV series]] was produced in 1979, five years before the Apple Macintosh debuted with a built in GUI,[[note]]First experimental [=GUIs=] did already exist at the time, but they were created in the rarified world of bespectacled, bearded and lab-coated computer scientists working with MainframesAndMinicomputers, and had yet to enter the public consciousness.[[/note]] it's not surprise that they didn't show advanced [=GUIs=] beyond handrawn line images.


[[folder: Comic Books]]
* Aboard the starship Entreprise-2061 of ''ComicBook/{{Pouvoirpoint}}'', all screens display geometric or wireframe graphics, and crappy screensavers.


* ''Film/StarWars'': In Episode IV, the fighters' targeting computers had very plain graphics[[note]]The vector graphic Death Star trench animation used in the movie was done using a state-of-the-art (for the mid-1970s) system running a rendering system called GRASS and took hours per frame[[/note]], as did the Rebels' displays at the Yavin base. In later (and [[{{Prequel}} "earlier"]]) installations, Lucas and company apparently understood how computers were changing[[note]]As well they should; by 1980 when the second movie was relased, there was a Star Wars arcade game with graphics similar to ones used in the Death Star trench animation from the first movie... except ''in color'' and ''in real time''; this served as a pretty good object lesson in how rapidly graphics capabilities were advancing[[/note]]. For ''Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack'' and ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi'', they didn't put any graphics that would actually appear on a computer screen onscreen (though they continued to show holograms). Even for the prequels, they kept such visuals to a minimum, though they likely could have created any interface they liked with effects. Rule still applies, even if taking place "long ago".
** Could be justified with the limited amounts of power the onboard computers of mass-produced (for the Empire's bloated war machine) ships could afford.
** Even so, the holograms are [[HologramProjectionImperfection black and white and flickery]], not half as good an image as any video technology that would've existed when the first ''Film/StarWars'' movie was ''filmed.'' However, it does add UsedFuture appeal.
** On the other hand in ''Film/ThePhantomMenace'', Nute Gunray had a huge TV like transmitter that had very good graphics like a traditional TV.
** The ''VideoGame/XWing'' video game actually used the Episode IV visuals for its targeting computers. Apparently deciding that they could do better, in ''VideoGame/TIEFighter'' Lucasarts gave the [=TIEs=] a targeting computer that showed the target from the perspective of the pilot's ship, including orientation, though the viewpoint of the "camera" was always from the same distance. It might have been a decision to give the [=TIEs=] more advanced equipment, except that all future iterations gave player-controlled craft an identical targeting computer.
** In the ''VideoGame/RogueSquadron'' games, the targeting computer has the same color scheme as the films but puts a [[ColorCodedForYourConvenience color overlay]] on top of the game's own graphics instead of using grids and dots.
** Many of the diplays in''Film/TheForceAwakens'' look more updated....except for the targeting computer of the Falcon which has the exact same Atari looking graphics it had in 1977.
* Compare the drab all-text computer graphics from ''Film/{{Alien}}'' with the rudimentary graphics from ''Film/{{Aliens}}''. Seven years is a long time in computer science.
** Also, check out the digital photo that briefly appears in the director's cut of ''Aliens''. It looks to be about .001 megapixel resolution.
** In fact, ''Alien'' did have wireframe 3D animation on some of the CRT monitors in the shuttle craft's bridge. The code for these was written in FORTRAN by British programmers on a Prime 400 microcomputer with 192 kB RAM.
*** Now contrast the graphics of ''Alien'' and ''Aliens'' with the state of the art-looking holograms, projections, and imagery present in ''{{Film/Prometheus}}'', theoretically set long before ''Alien.'' Possibly justified, since the ''Nostromo'' from ''Alien'' was a [[TheAllegedCar low-end old space tug]] and the ''Sulaco'' from ''Aliens'' was a [[StandardHumanSpaceship rugged military transport]], while the ''Prometheus'' was the shiny state-of-the-art CoolStarship
** This was later retconned as a defence against industrial hacking. Using antiquated technology reduced the number of attack vectors a rival corporation could employ.
** ''VideoGame/AlienIsolation'' [[TropesAreNotBad deliberately uses the outdated graphics from the first film]] to evoke nostalgia and the feeling of trying to survive against a NighInvulnerable enemy with technology that is outdated even in-universe.
* Averted (a bit) in ''Film/TwoThousandOneASpaceOdyssey'', which used modified cel animation to depict computer readouts that would otherwise be difficult or impossible in 1968, such as David Bowman watching television on a [[DataPad paper-thin tablet]] aboard the ''Discovery'', but played painfully straight in the sequel ''Film/TwoThousandTenTheYearWeMakeContact'', with graphics and controls typical of 1984. On the other hand, the Soviet ''Alexei Leonov'' isn't nearly as advanced as the American ''Discovery'' despite the ''Leonov'' being several years younger.
* In ''Film/StarTrekTheMotionPicture'' their scientific advisor took a look at what the effects people had come up with for their viewing screen tactical displays, and told them "I can do better than that on my UsefulNotes/TRS80," so what we see in the movie is what he did on his UsefulNotes/TRS80.
** Some of the displays in ''[[Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan The Wrath of Khan]]'' and ''[[Film/StarTrekIIITheSearchForSpock The Search For Spock]]'' are definitely low-grade computer graphics. Then Michael Okuda came along on ''[[Film/StarTrekIVTheVoyageHome The Voyage Home]]'' and vastly improved the look. It's particularly jarring, though, when one of the bridge displays in ''The Wrath Of Khan'', set in 2285, is primitive compared to the display of a circa-1986 computer in ''The Voyage Home''!
** Then they did ''[[Film/StarTrekVTheFinalFrontier Star Trek V]]'' on a short timeframe and reduced budget, and the bridge displays became shockingly awful again.
** Averted with the simulation of the Genesis Device, first seen in ''The Wrath of Khan''. Done as a showpiece by what would later become Pixar, it was considered a CrowningMomentOfAwesome for the field of computer graphics of the time, and remains believable as a simulation thirty years later. The Star Trek production team was so enamored with it that they incorporated the footage into the next two sequels.
* The text we see when Franchise/RoboCop [[RoboCam is first activated]] in ''Film/RoboCop1987'' shows that he is running under [=MS-DOS=] 3.3.
* The Franchise/{{Terminator}}'s POV shots have 6502 assembly language code in the first two movies, and Macintosh ones (including "[=QuickTime=] Player"!) in [[Film/Terminator3RiseOfTheMachines the third]]. Also, said RoboCam is not on full-color, but tinted in either red or blue (though it's implied they run just like NightVisionGoggles).
* In ''Film/{{Gattaca}}'', they can make DNA tests in seconds, but they have neither touchscreens nor high resolution.
* ''Film/EscapeFromNewYork'' is set in 1997, but is forced to use 1981 graphics. The effect helps create an UnintentionalPeriodPiece.
** The glider computer's green wireframe graphics were too expensive to do back then, so the model of Manhattan made for different scenes in the movie was painted black, outlined with green reflective tape and filmed. Truly, the past is another country.
* Inexplicably done in ''Film/RealSteel'', with a Generation 2 controller that Bailey dug up for Max to use with Atom. Seeing that 2007 was a date mentioned where Charlie was still boxing, the monochrome low-res screen on the G2 controller should be more advanced than that.
* ''Film/SexMission'', made in 1984: It is set in 2044, but computers still use wireframe 3-D green-lined graphics... and, at one point, what is clearly UsefulNotes/ZXSpectrum graphics.
* ''Film/BackToTheFuturePartII'' featured Marty getting scared by a hologram from a poster for ''Film/{{Jaws}}: [[RidiculousFutureSequelisation 19]]''. The hologram [[http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20070112173103/bttf/images/4/4b/Jaws19-2.jpg is shown with low-detail CGI and bug eyes,]] which makes Marty's "The shark still looks fake." line that much funnier.
* ''Film/SpaceMutiny'' simulates the fighting space ships in the beginning with very primitive vector graphics that only show a vague resemblance to their counterparts.

* ''Literature/{{Foundation}}'', set thousands of years in the future in a galaxy-spanning empire with colossal starships and pocket-sized nuclear power plants, makes a big deal about a shipboard navigation computer with ''graphics''.
* In Heinlein's ''Literature/TheMoonIsAHarshMistress'' Luna City's MasterComputer, "Mike" has no monitors, but he does have mic pickups and can access Video Phones. Eventually he is able to generate a CGI avatar for video calls that is indistinguishable from real life, after some adjustment, but it takes up the majority of his processing power, and he's a sentient AI.

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* Many a Trekkie has suffered brain damage trying to explain the dichotomy between the ViewerFriendlyInterface on computers in ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' and the flashy lights and hand-made slides in ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'' -- we get a little help from the fact that we almost never see the screens of video displays on TOS showing anything other than fullscreen video. We get a better look at a TOS-era display in the ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' episode "In a Mirror, Darkly", where it appears to be a sort of art deco version of the TNG-era LCARS interface.
** ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' and ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' suffered from the same problem mentioned in the trope description of frame rate refresh being visible on screen. For that reason, only specialised TV monitors whose refresh rate could be adjusted to match that of the cameras were used, which meant that there you rarely saw an animated display in the background, only the ones necessary for the plot.
** While [=DS9=] has considerably more animated displays than TNG, it makes it look like the Cardassians [[SaltTheEarth trashing the station on their way out]] replaced [[http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/File:Bajoran_Intelligence_net.jpg certain displays]] with 377-year-old UsefulNotes/{{Macintosh}}es, if the Chicago font is any indication. At least some of us wouldn't put it past those AffablyEvil Cardassians....
** ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' retconned this by having a time traveler introduce computer technology to the 20th century. The result was an alternate timeline similar to our own.
* In ''Series/KnightRider'', all of KITT's "complex" displays are source listings of BASIC programs. Given that the software is non-commercial, intended for use by a single trained user, and designed by a very small team to interface with custom hardware at a time with a shortage of third-party cross-platform GUI libraries, a text display was quite realistic for the period, of course - but that doesn't mean it was chosen as a result of the staff [[ShownTheirWork doing their homework]].
* Even worse, in ''{{Timeslip}}'', a futuristic (evil) computer can output ''directly as brainwaves'' or on a video screen. The video screen ''shows the image of a teletype printing out the computer's output.''
* The makers of the original ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|1978}}'' made an effort to avoid (well, delay) this trope by using the top-of-the-line graphics systems then available for the bridge display of incoming enemy fighters. They looked rather impressive for about five years.
** Oddly enough, the [[Series/BattlestarGalactica2003 re-imagined series]] [[InvokedTrope made a point of this]] with the computers on Galactica, which [[WordOfGod have been described as]] being far below the specs of today's systems. The reason is that during the initial Cylon uprising, the robots were extremely good at hacking, so the Battlestars used no wireless communications and only standalone computers (no networking). Since the Cylons vanished, all the Battlestars have been upgraded; Galactica is the only old-style Battlestar left, as its commander stubbornly insists that the Cylons aren't gone forever. (Obvious spoiler alert: [[spoiler:he's right]]).
*** It is presumably due to trying to avoid this trope that you don't really see the computer displays on the Pegasus (which is a more up to date battlestar) or any of the civilian ships, all of which would be running the "current day" (or at least more modern) colonial computers as opposed to the obsolete systems on the Galactica.
*** The spin-off ''Series/{{Caprica}}'' used much more flashy looking displays and technology in general - for instance, the tablet device Zoe uses and then rolls up to put back in her pocket.
** When the film ''Film/SpaceMutiny'' (which used classic ''Galactica'' scenes) was featured on ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'', Mike and the 'bots took notice of this easily.
-->'''Tom Servo:''' Graphics made by ''Creator/{{Kenner}}''.
* In ''Series/TerminatorTheSarahConnorChronicles'' we learn that at least part of [=SkyNet=] is written in Visual Basic and that Terminator [=CPUs=] plug into small subsection of PCI bus. No wonder they want to kill humanity.
* ''Series/LookAroundYou'', keeping with its {{Retraux}} theme, makes use of BBC Micros, using one in the first series opening titles to run a laughably simple BASIC program. The second series features a BBC Micro with glitchy voice software welcoming viewers to the future of "Look Around Yog", while a toaster with a BBC Micro attached is a "futuristic toasting system".
* ''Series/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy'' (BBC miniseries)'s producers looked at what the BBC's own effects department offered for the guide. It wasn't pretty. So they averted this by using very painstakingly detailed cel animation and clever rear projection tricks to show "advanced" computer displays (such as the tiny non-flat flatscreen of the guide, the gigantic widescreen display on the Heart of Gold, etc).
* Played with in ''Series/{{Bones}}'' where Angela has a holographic display, with amber graphics resembling some types of 80s CRT monitors. The resolution was way better, though.
* ''Series/MaxHeadroom''. Everything is in wire frames. Then again, it ''was'' the TropeNamer for TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture....
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** In the 1982 episode ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS19E1Castrovalva Castrovalva]]'', it turns out that the fantastically advanced TARDIS computer has a display that is outperformed by a UsefulNotes/ZXSpectrum. Justified in that later it turns out that the whole interface was a phony produced by the Master so that Tegan and Nyssa would ''think'' they were piloting the TARDIS.
** The other anachronisms in the TARDIS interface were later retroactively justified when the Doctor changes the TARDIS's "desktop theme" into a more organic, steampunk, retrotech look. Apparently, the Doctor is enough of a BunnyEarsLawyer to actually prefer that look over proper graphics.
** Unlike their ''Hitchhiker's Guide'' counterparts, the ''Doctor Who'' creative team were quite happy to use BBC Micros to generate their on-set graphics for most of the Fifth and Sixth Doctors' runs. Sometimes they could get away with it if the stories were set in the present or near-future, but stories set further in the future ended up fitting this trope to a tee.
** In "Warriors' Gate", the privateer's computer displays the TARDIS as a wireframe graphic. According to the DVD commentary, this wasn't even computer-generated -- it was done by filming an actual wireframe model.
* In the first series of ''Series/RedDwarf'', Holly's appearance was very pixelated.

[[folder: Tabletop Games]]
* Monitors of any sort are rarely seen in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' (it being a miniatures wargame, after all) but the graphical quality of what little we do see [[ZigZaggedTrope tends to vary]]. Often justified since most races, especially humans, are living in a UsedFuture. The most recent example (at time of writing) is the ColdOpen in the tie-in video game ''VideoGame/Warhammer40000SpaceMarine''. The Imperial command's monitor has a fully functional GUI and supports a click-and-zoom map of the galaxy, but can only display yellow, red, and black.
** Crazy juxtapositions of high and low technology are a big part of 40k's design aesthetic, especially for the Imperium of Man. Sometimes advanced computer monitors are even lit up with tallow candles, lacking any kind of internal illumination of their own.
** Completely averted with the Tau, whose tech is far more advanced than humans, to the point where it creeps them out to see holograms that ''don't'' require PercussiveMaintenance every five minutes.
* Varies heavily in ''Tabletopgame/BattleTech'', set in the far off future of 3025 and beyond. [[HumongousMecha Battlemech]] heads up displays and cockpit displays are often depicted as being fairly simple affairs, albeit more for readability in combat rather than a lack of processing power. Third-dimensional holographic displays exist with great graphical capacity, but are uncommon due to excessive costs versus standard flatscreens, and interstellar transmissions are always sent in the smaller flatscreen format to save bandwidth. The depiction of display graphics has varied heavily in the franchise, having run [[LongRunners since 1984]], with older works using trending towards simplistic displays while [[TechnologyMarchesOn newer ones use flatscreens, tablets, and holograms]].

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* Ansem's Computer in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' is supposed to be highly advanced and storing all of his and his students research data. Yet, it uses 8-bit graphics and a user-interface which looks like the most primitive form of Windows the world has ever seen. Not even a mouse is used. It's somehow justified by the fact that this computer is the gate to "Space Paranoids", a world based on the '80s movie ''Film/{{Tron}}'', and the fact that it ''is'' at least twenty years old already by the time ''[=KH2=]'' takes place, and there hasn't exactly been anyone around to upgrade the hardware or software.
* The computers in ''VideoGame/GrimFandango'' appear to be teletypes hooked up to enormous amber-monochrome screens. It fits with the Art Deco theming everywhere.
** It's also never explicitly stated just when the game is set; if anything, it seems to be around the Forties or Fifties, which would make them ''advanced'' for their time.
* In ''VideoGame/MegaManX'', the intro has Dr. Cain working on a circa-2114 machine with 8 ''petabytes'' of "real mem" (probably RAM) and 32 PB of "avail mem" (probably space in the swap partition of the hard drive) whose power-on self-test sequence still looks like [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoIR4dFwfwk this.]] (By contrast, a [[UsefulNotes/AppleMacintosh Mac Pro]] can be configured with 64 gigabytes of RAM (1[=/=]131,072th) of the fictional computer) and 8 terabytes drive space (1[=/=]4096th the fictional) and, [[ExtremeGraphicalRepresentation well...]]
* Used in ''VideoGame/{{Startopia}}''. Most likely intentional given how the game is a love letter to 'classic' sci-fi.
* In the ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'' SNES game (which takes place in the 2050s), office computers don't have any graphics at all! Whenever you use your cyberdeck to jack into the Matrix, you get a screen full of command lines in classic green-on-black monochrome scheme while the connection is established.
* In the mid-90s UsefulNotes/{{Amiga}} adventure game ''VideoGame/DreamWeb'' (taking place in the near future), home computers similarly have no graphics at all, and no user interface either! the user is stuck with a clumsy DOS-like interface to access everything from his eMails to fetching the latest news broadcast (which consists of text, too, of course).
* In the ''Franchise/MassEffect'' series, we have whizzy holographic monitors with monochrome visuals (usually amber, sometimes blue). Even non-holograms tend to be grainy, full of static, or blurry.
** The sequels justify this in-game by explaining that all of the important holographic conversations occur instantly across pan-galactic distances via quantum entaglement technology, which is still very much in its infancy. Quite literally, it looks crummy because only a tiny handful exist in the galaxy, and most of the ones used by the Alliance had to be reverse engineered from what they could steal from Cerberus and the Normandy SR-2. Getting it to run in 1080p before the Reapers arrived probably wasn't their highest priority....
*** Given every other computer display in the series is just as bad, they did a pretty good job.
*** The regular work space holographic displays look like they were specifically made to cause seizures or otherwise injure their operators. They're pointlessly layered (making text illegible), out of focus, and flicker constantly.
* In ''VideoGame/VampireTheMasqueradeBloodlines'' all the computers run on DOS in a game taking place in 2004.
* Played with in ''[[VidoeGame/GrandTheftAuto Grand Theft Auto]]: [[VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoViceCityStories Vice City Stories]]'' with the advertisement for the Fruit LC personal computer, with features like 18 kilobytes of memory and a two-tone, 8-inch display. In 1984, when the game is set, this would have been nearly revolutionary, but when the game was released in 2007, the computer seemed hilariously primitive.
* Justified in the ''Videogame/{{Fallout}}'' series. The transistor [[AlternateHistory wasn't invented until 2067]] - roughly a hundred years after the real-world silicon transistor - leading to the common computers just before the Great War of 2077 being very simplistic, equivalent to late 1970s personal computers. Displays are massive monochromatic green/amber cathode ray tubes; even the Institute in ''Videogame/{{Fallout 4}}'' still uses [=CRTs=] despite having two centuries to improve. Holograms were developed and the technology was in its infancy at the end of the world. The Sierra Madre Casino in ''Videogame/FalloutNewVegas'' has fairly realistic albeit monochromatic HardLight holographic security drones and entertainers.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Superhot}}'', the OS for the player's computer and most of the apps on it are made of ASCII art, but there are hints of CyberPunk levels of technology available to [[spoiler:the System]], most prominently [[spoiler:their BrainUploading]].
* ''Videogame/PlanetSide'' uses this for its virtual reality training areas for soldiers to experiment with new equipment before unlocking it. In the first game, objects in the VR had thick outlines and the terrain was super low-resolution and overlaid with wireframe. In the second game, objects look just like real life up close but beyond a few hundred meters the world fades away to black-and-white wireframe.
* The [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-eXQevSDzQ intro]] for the UsefulNotes/SegaMasterSystem version of ''Super'' ''Videogame/SpaceInvaders'', even if the game takes place in 2073, features CRT-like graphics.
* ''VideoGame/{{Speedball}} 2: Brutal Deluxe'' has a text introduction about the history of the Speedball sport in the period around the turn of the 22nd century. This text is presented in monospaced all-caps with a blinking block cursor.

[[folder: Real Life]]
* Many processor and memory intensive tools, [=3D=] art programs, for example, use extremely primitive interfaces. The fraction of a second of lag as a computer renders the high-res font and drop shadows of a typical program's interface can become several seconds when a computer has 90% of its resources dedicated to rendering a high-poly mesh or HD resolution image. Multiply that by an entire day's work of opening and closing menus and panels and you begin to see why the typical GUI in an art program looks typical of the early 90's.
* Similarly, many business applications are extremely primitive, but in this case it's often for the comfort of employees who have been using the same program for decades and companies that don't want to lose work hours while they get used to a new interface- changes between versions tend to be "under the hood" and simply add new features without changing the familiar, outdated, look. If they do update the interface, there will often be an option to use the old look as a shell over the new interface.
* If properly designed, a simple graphic can convey all necessary information in a glance. Compare the HeadsUpDisplay in a video game- simple icons and colored bars are used to represent large amounts of complex information quickly.
** A similar example are the graphics used in sports broadcasts (a "score bug"), with baseball being a prime example. If someone walked by a television showing a Major League Baseball game with the sound off, they can, with a few numbers and some symbols located in the corner of the screen, immediately know who's playing, the score, what inning and what half of an inning the game is in, how many out, how many on base (and what bases are occupied), the count on the batter and (if a playoff) what the series standing is.
* Interfaces for tasks like [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_Navy_060505-N-9079D-025_Air_Traffic_Controller_3rd_Class_David_McKeehe_works_approach_controller_in_Carrier_Air_Traffic_Control_Center_%28CATTC%29.jpg air traffic control]] tend to be extremely primitive looking simply because it reduces the number of distractions, increases the speed at which the viewer can understand the information, and allows the screen to be updated in near real-time. This is critical when lag for either the operator or the computer can result in a fiery mid air collision!
* [=AutoCAD=] programs use the same blueprint shorthand that has been used for nearly two centuries, in a standard format. This prevents mistakes which can lead to injuries and deaths, because it is familiar to anyone in the engineering and construction industry, regardless of language. An engineer from the 1800's could pick up a blueprint printed from an [=AutoCAD=] program and would only be moderately unfamiliar with the notations for advanced electrical wiring.
* Many programs written for scientific research purposes tend to be simplistic in terms of graphics because they are written purely for utilitarian purposes, sometimes as a home-brew solution which may only be used a few times by the researcher for a single experiment. Even on high budget projects, more money tends to go toward hardware and staff than toward designing an aesthetically pleasing interface.
** Even in programs explicitly designed to produce graphical output (such as realistically isometric renderings of complex molecules), the ''interface'', such as it is, may be something that quite literally wouldn't have been at all out of place in the 1960s, with the only concession to modern technology being that the atom positions and rendering options are contained in a text file rather than a physical deck of punched cards.
* The ''Voyager'' probes (and others), in one of the most epic dual-[[SubvertedTrope subversions]]/[[JustifiedTrope justifications]] in human history, as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Heacock Ray Heacock,]] spacecraft systems manager for the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyager_program Voyager program]] once explained,
--> ''Any good... PC, today, will have [[TechnologyMarchesOn several hundred thousand words of memory]], and no one would think of buying a computer with the limited capabilities that the ''Voyager'' systems have. And of course, today, no one would think of building for spaceflight computers with such limited capabilities. But the thing that these computers had was reliability. And being programmable from Ground Operations, we can still have them perform very complex and sophisticated operations.''
--> -- interview, ''The Infinite Voyage'' series, ''Sail On, Voyager!'', 1990
:: NASA engineers chose computer systems for the spacecraft that were not the absolute most advanced even in their own day (1977), in favor of systems that were intended to never have the slightest chance of failing while in-mission. [[LongRunner 40 years later]], the still-functioning [[http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-nasa-confirms-voyager-1-has-exited-the-solar-system-20130912-story.html first spacecraft to ever leave the solar system]] bear testament to their constructors' foresight of valuing proven endurance over cutting-edge yet uncertain technology.
** There are also other concerns that keep computers in space slower as well. The first is the problem of cooling; while space is extremely cold (2.7K), the only cooling available is very slow thermal radiation (convective cooling, i.e. fans blowing cool air on the component, doesn't work in a vacuum for obvious reasons), so operating temperatures have to be minimized. The second is the sheer amount of radiation shielding and/or redundancy in design required to keep delicate electronics from being fried outside the natural protections we have on Earth (the atmosphere, magnetic field, etc). This also adds to the cooling problem - you can put your computer inside a lead box to prevent charged-particle radiation from scrambling the memory, but then the lead acts as a insulator... and finally, spacecraft components are ''expensive'', as they're built at best in very small numbers (to have spares to test what has failed when something goes wrong up there), and to update a component, besides having to design said component, may even mean a more or less through redesign of the spacecraft to account for things that may differ as power consumption, mass, etc.
* As of the mid-to-late 2010s, UI design languages are moving towards simpler, 'flatter' appearances from sleek, opulent appearance of late 2000s to the first half of 2010s, thanks to Microsoft's introduction of "Metro" (later renamed to "Modern" or "Microsoft Style" due to trademark issues) design language in 2012. While it sparks BrokenBase among those who are used with the sleek, opulent appearance, it gives better performance even on desktops (Microsoft Aero was pretty, but it was putting load on performance), and since then, other software and IT companies such as Google (signified with the change of its iconic logo like how Microsoft and Windows changes their iconic almost 20-year old logo) follow suit due to the lack of design style patent, along with the overall UI design on both PC and mobile operating systems and web pages.
** One [[http://daringfireball.net/2013/01/the_trend_against_skeuomorphism theory posits]] that earlier, more visually complex [=UIs=] were designed to compensate for lower screen resolutions, and trying to scale these items up takes a lot of work or produces ugly results.
* Many companies still use old software because everyone is already trained on it and it's reliable -- and because most attempts to rewrite an old, established, poorly-documented (and they are always poorly-documented) system in a new language are expensive failures. A potential time traveler going forward in time from the past may indeed think this trope when visiting a company.
** Antiquated, reliable software, often written in antiquated, reliable languages (Ada in particular), is particularly common in militaries, making the ''StarWars'' page header something close to TruthInTelevision.
* Game tools not part of the game package, or primarily intended for internal use, normally use the default Windows interface; think of the difference between the Elder Scrolls games and the Elder Scrolls Creation Kit, or the average server-based game and the average server-based game-hosting interface. Tools like this are meant primarily for people who are used to the game and possibly bored by having worked on it for so long; they need the best performance they can get, and don't need to spend so much time and effort on graphics.
* A lot of serious Linux users favor minimalistic window managers and the command line over fancy graphical interfaces.
* Modern tactical displays honestly ''do'' look a lot like computer screens in the ''[[Film/ANewHope New Hope]]'' the lines are much thinner and overall picture is generally much sharper, but it's still the same spartan and simplistic vector graphics with purely functional look. If the video feed is featured, it's usually monochrome footage of thermal camera or image intensifier[[note]]read night vision[[/note]], or, if a map is displayed, it's a bare vector version, overlaid with targeting reticles, unit icons, attack vectors, fields of fire, projected trajectories etc., all stark and functional, with simple alphanumeric readouts for required data. The last thing a commanding officer needs is unnecessary bells and whistles that could introduce ambiguity or tax the performance of their not very powerful heavy-duty hardware.