With TRON taking place in 1982, TRON: Betrayal taking place from 1983 to 1989, TRON: Evolution taking place in 1989, TRON 2.0 taking place in 2003 and TRON: Legacy set in 2010, the TRON Universe is about humans being transported inside a computer and interacting with humanoid computer programs in a digital world. The Universe/mythology is named after the computer program Tron, who saved ENCOM's mainframe computer system and the real world from an evil self-aware computer program known as the MCP in 1982.
There are three different storylines in the TRON mythology.
Main TRON Canon
TRON: Betrayal Canon
- TRON: Betrayal (1983-1989)
TRON 2.0 Canon
- TRON 2.0 (2003)
In the TRON Universe, there are two major classes of digital beings: The "users" and the "programs".
A user is essentially a human being who operates a computer. Little do they know, on the other side of the screen, there is a digital civilization of humanoid computer programs that they have created. If a user writes and compiles a program on a computer, the program will look exactly like the user counterpart in the real world. Users are looked upon by the programs as gods, or even saviors, of their world.
Programs are electronic beings that were written/created by the users. Programs have a unique trait of looking exactly like their user counterpart in the real world. However, despite their human appearance, they are completely different beings than users. They live on pure energy and have circuitry all over their bodies, which glow in fantastic colors that vary from program to program.
The rise and fall of Kevin Flynn
In 1980, ENCOM, an American technology company in California, brings their first mainframe online, which had the greatest state-of-the-art technology at the time. That same year, computer programmer and hacker Kevin Flynn gets his doctorate from Caltech and joins ENCOM. He soon climbs up the ranks and becomes a lead software engineer. In his spare time, he begins writing video games on his private terminal at the ENCOM offices including Matrix Blaster, Vice Squad, Lightcycle and what would be his most popular title, Space Paranoids.
In 1981, Flynn was ready to present his video games to the executives at ENCOM but when he went to his terminal to pull up the game files, he discovered that they were stolen. Three months later, another software engineer named Ed Dillinger presents ENCOM with Flynn's games, claiming them as his own creations. The games became extremely popular at arcades and ENCOM's profits soar. As a result Dillinger gets promoted to Senior Executive VP and fires Flynn. Shortly after, Flynn opens up Flynn's Arcade, which turns out to be very popular with gamers.
The Reign of the MCP
By 1982, ENCOM has become a very powerful company and begins work on digitization hardware, which allows matter to be transported at a molecular level. In order to control the steadily increasing advanced hardware, a program (originally a chess program created by Dillinger) called the Master Control Program (MCP) was created to administrate the entire ENCOM mainframe. Dillinger secretly added some hidden functions in the MCP that allowed it to appropriate other programs it comes across, using the appropriated program's functions to become bigger and more powerful. Eventually, the MCP becomes self-aware and starts to become obsessed with power. It soon starts hacking and stealing programs and code from military, government and bank mainframes from around the world.
Meanwhile, Flynn tries to hack into ENCOM's mainframe to find evidence that Dillinger stole his games. Using his hacking program Clu, Flynn gets booted out of the system and Clu is appropriated by the MCP. Alan Bradley, programmer of the security program Tron, finds out about Flynn's hacking attempt (which caused the MCP to deny Alan access to Tron as a security precaution) and reluctantly decides to help Flynn hack into ENCOM's mainframe by using his girlfriend Lora's direct terminal. Flynn starts to hack into the terminal when the MCP discovers Flynn and shoots him with Lora's experimental digitizing gun. Flynn gets digitized and is transported into cyberspace, where he meets Tron, a prisoner of the MCP. The MCP forces all computer programs that believe in the users to play gladiator video games (based off Flynn's own video games) until they derezz. With the help of Flynn, Tron manages to escape the Game Grid and the two find their way to the MCP. Using his identity disk, Tron destroys the MCP and ends its reign of tyrannical rule. Flynn gets the evidence that Dillinger stole his games and becomes VP of Creative Development at ENCOM. ENCOM becomes the largest video game company in the world. Flynn never tells Alan or Lora about his experience in the cyberspace and keeps it a secret. Flynn then creates a video game in 1983 called "TRON", based on Alan's program name. The game is basically a recreation of his adventure on the game grid. Flynn also starts calling Alan "Tron" as a nickname.
Later in '82, Flynn gets married to Jordan Canas and they have a son named Sam. Alan Bradley becomes Sam's godfather. Sadly, Flynn's wife dies in an accident in September 1985. During this time, Kevin secretly devotes his time to creating a utopia inside cyberspace. He redesigns his video game vehicles such as the lightcycle and recognizers and utilizes them in his world.
Flynn goes missing
In November 1989, Flynn disappears without a trace, leaving behind 7 year old Sam as well as ENCOM and his fortune. After searching for Kevin, he was presumed dead and Sam lived with his grandparents until he was an adult. During high school at Wellminster Academy Sam shows reckless/risk taking behavior at the school, tagging the symbol "89" on desks and walls, getting into fights, and stunts on his motorcycle in the school's parking lot. According to Alan Bradley, these antisocial activities are his way of getting other people to take a deeper interest in finding his father, who Sam believes is still alive.
In 1997, Sam joins a capoeira martial arts troupe from Brazil and begins to train with them. After 2000, the school notices his social skills have immensely improved and is much more calm when confrontations. He is accepted into Caltech, his father's alma mater, into the best matriculating class of 2001.