Computer Count And NASDAQ


I’ve recently had an interesting conversation with Rhizome’s Michael Connor about why the number of computers in Law & Order drops in the early 2000s (because of this project).

While my initial PurplePayday argument was that this slump was the result of ubiquity (us becoming accustomed to computers and internet use), Michael suggested there might be another reason: the bursting of the dot-com bubble.

Curious, I made a chart of the closing price for the NASDAQ for the same years as the show (in light gray) and superimposed it on the computer count on Law & Order (dark gray, with the running-average count as a red line). There is a striking parallel: a slow incline followed by a spike around 1999/2000 that shows up in both. The charts diverge toward the final seasons; while Law & Order did build storylines around the recession of the late 2000s, this didn’t effect the appearance of computers in offices and homes.


A quick Google Ngram chart for close to the same period (1990-2008) for the words computer (in blue) and internet (in red) also shows the same slump in the early 2000s.

Law & Order Stats: Gender and Computer Counts


What are you looking at? From the final episode (season 20, episode 456).

Having finally finished all 456 episodes of “Law & Order” (totaling approximately 20,520 minutes or 342 hours or 14.25 days) I now have just under 11,000 screenshots of computers and people using them. While watching, I also gathered extra data: I recorded the victim and perpetrator’s gender, as well as the total number of computers per episode. Below are some thoughts on those stats, for those interested such ephemera.


While the Law & Order Database has some great data, surprisingly it is missing the gender of victims and perpetrators. Since the show is “ripped from the headlines”, it is especially interesting to compare those numbers from the show with real murder statistics in the US.

Continue reading “Law & Order Stats: Gender and Computer Counts”

Law & Order: Midpoint Update


This week I finished the first ten seasons (228 episodes = ~167.2 hours) of “Law & Order” for a commission with, cataloging computer use through screenshots over the show’s entire 20-year run. Many, many computers:

  • Just over 4,500 screenshots so far (at 5 per computer = ~ 900 computers)
  • Average of 107 computers per season
  • Average of 4 computers per episode
  • 16 episodes that feature no computers at all

I have also been keeping notes of the first onscreen appearance of computer devices, for example:

  • First laptop: season 2, episode 34
  • First inkjet printer: season 6, episode 125

Additionally, I’ve been tracking victim and perpetrator gender to add to the already great Law & Order database. The current tally is rather interesting:





We can also look at this another way, seeing crime by perpetrator gender and the gender of their respective victims:

male43 (18.94%)43 (18.94%)20 (8.81%)
female12 (5.29%)17 (7.94%)3 (1.32%)
both19 (8.37%)12 (5.29%)17 (7.94%)

A 2011 United States Department of Justice report provides some interesting comparisons: 90% of all homicides were committed by males; 66% of victims were male. Some interesting conclusions to be drawn, but I have another 226 episodes to watch!

And with that, onward to season 11!

Season 3: Finished

Finished watching season 3 of Law & Order for my Rhizome commission, which features the show’s first computer virus (signed with smiley faces and skulls, apparently).

Computers on Law & Order – Part 9

Computer in experimental psychiatry lab (season 7, episode 6, 31:59″)

Computer in squad room (season 7, episode 6, 18:18″)

Computer behind experimental psychiatrist (season 7, episode 6, 17:32″)

Experimental psychiatrist’s lab, computer in background (season 7, episode 6, 32:09″)

Manhattan University student ID from database (season 7, episode 3, 09:00″)

PET scan technician looking at the scane of a mental patient (season 7, episode 6, 42:03″)

PET scan technician looking at the brain scan of a mental patient – was thought to have schizophrenia but actually has a brain tumor (season 7, episode 6, 42:11″)

What appears to be an early inkjet printer, in the office of a psychiatrist (season 7, episode 6, 23:43″)

Detective using a computer in the background (season 7, episode 3, 14:20″)

Several very large and computers in the lobby of a hotel (season 7, episode 7, 06:05″)


Computers on Law & Order – Part 8

Security station in office building (season 7, episode 2, 03:16″)

Elevator repair-man using elevator software (season 7, episode 2, 04:02″)

An unhappy-looking sound technician at the NYPD (season 7, episode 1, 27:04″)

Computers on Law & Order – Part 5

Software “sketch artist” rendering a suspect’s face (season 6, episode 13, 47:39″)

Database at Child Protective Services (season 6, episode 14, 09:11″)

Turned-off computer on the desk of a private investigator (season 6, episode 17, 07:29″)

Computer in the background of Lt. VanBuren’s office (season 6, episode 14, 02:28″)

Computers On Law & Order – Part 3

Early version of Windows (season 6, episode 6, 09:11″)

Program Manager (season 6, episode 6, 17:35″)

Checking a suspect’s email – actually just a text file in Notepad (season 6, episode 6, 17:37″)

Screensaver (season 6, episode 6, 09:10″)

Sending email to a biker (season 6, episode 6, 11:09″)