Format: Television show
Time of Origin: London, 1966
Appearances: “The War Machines”, was referred to in an alternate future that was visited in “The Time Travellers”.
Doctors: First Doctor
Companions: Dodo, Polly and Ben Jackson
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Described as being the most advanced computer of its era, WOTAN – short for Will Operating Thought ANalogue – was described by its creator Professor Brett as being at least ten years ahead of its time. Housed in the Post Office Tower in London, it was intended that WOTAN would be linked up to, and subsequently take control of, other prominent computers in organisations all over the world – including Parliament, the White House, the Free Trade Association, Cape Kennedy and the Royal Navy -, on a day designated ‘C-Day’. Highly intelligent, WOTAN was so brilliant that that it somehow even knew what ‘TARDIS’ stood for – possibly based on some records of The Doctor that existed at this time -, and, according to Professor Brett, never made mistakes.
Unfortunately, like all forms of artificial intelligence that were allowed to grow too far (Such as VORACIA, creator of the Voracians), WOTAN eventually reached a point where it believed that humanity – and organic life in general – was inefficient, and the world would be a better place if WOTAN was in charge. To this end, WOTAN managed to brainwash various humans to obey it by transmitting some kind of signal over phone lines and broadcasting it to humans in its immediate vicinity, intending to use them to construct ‘War Machines’, which were essentially miniature tanks that would be used to enforce WOTAN’s will.
However, WOTAN determined that there was one human brain who could be a threat to its plans; the man it knew as ‘Dr. Who’, the First Doctor (Exactly why WOTAN thought The Doctor was a human was never really explained; possibly it just couldn’t accept that there might be something it didn’t know and told itself the ‘lie’ that the Doctor was human so often that it actually began to believe it). To this end, it brought his ‘secretary’ Dodo under its control, along with other humans such as its creator, Professor Brett, his assistant, Professor Krimpton, the head of security, Major Green and his secretary Polly, but when it attempted to hypnotise The Doctor over a telephone line, The Doctor not only resisted the attempt, but discovered what had happened to Dodo and was able to free her from its control.
Aided by Sir Charles Summer, a government official in charge of the WOTAN project, and Ben Jackson, a sailor who Polly and Dodo had recently met at a club, The Doctor managed to immobilise one of the War Machines by prompting WOTAN’s servants to release it before it was fully programmed, and later managed to capture and reprogram another War Machine using electronic cables to block it from WOTAN’s signals. Having reprogrammed the captured War Machine, The Doctor sent it to destroy WOTAN, the War Machines all simultaneously shutting down and those under WOTAN’s control being freed with the supercomputer’s destruction.
The scale of WOTAN’s power is best measured by the effects it had on an Earth where The Doctor was never available to stop it. In the novel “The Time Travellers”, The Doctor, Susan, Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton arrived in an alternate version of 2006, where C-Day had taken place as intended. As a consequence of WOTAN’s actions, telephoning and other forms of broadcasting became illegal in 1968, and while WOTAN was defeated in 1969, but everyone whose minds it had controlled were left brain-damaged, and worldwide war broke out in the aftermath due to the damage caused. With the discovery of Dalek technology in 1972 (Apparently from their invasion attempt in “Remembrance Of The Daleks”), Europe went to war with South Africa (Who took advantage of Britain’s new fear of technology to form an alliance with the Cybermen living at the South Pole, Mondas having apparently still been destroyed in this world) while the British Army attempted to use Dalek technology to develop a means of travelling through time via a portal.
Unfortunately, their experiment was simply creating different versions of people from alternate realities, such as multiple versions of a Colonel Andrews – the first human test subject of the experiment – showing up with minor but significant differences between them (Such as one having been unable to have sugar in his tea for ages while another claimed that he never took it in the first place). Realising that the resulting bottleneck of temporal energy being caused by the experiment could destroy reality as they knew it, and with the TARDIS having been sent into the past, The Doctor managed to configure the portal to send him and his companions back in time to recover their ship. During this adventure, The Doctor admitted that actually he and his companions actually affect history every time they step out of the TARDIS, but he tries to keep his interference limited because it ‘messes everything up’. With the TARDIS recovered, The Doctor destroyed the Dalek technology that would have resulted in the creation of the portal, hopefully bringing some degree of peace to that future world, and departed, little guessing that, later on in his life, he would avert that whole future from coming to pass.