Where did you hear that the CM-2's lights were the game of life? Not true. The LEDs are in clusters of 32 per each matrix card (CPU and memory) and show communication activity between the CPUs. google 'connection machine cm-2 lights' for references.
I have no idea, but it might have been in “Steve Jobs and the NeXT Big Thing,” as an inspiration for the NeXT cube? If I recall correctly (which is unlikely, as I read that book something like 20 years ago), it was a scene at a trade show, so it was probably a “demo mode” thing.
When Hallmark launched Shoebox in 1986, nobody knew that the crabby character gracing the covers of a few Shoebox cards would become a celebrity. But it didn’t take long to see that Maxine’s irreverent quips about aging, the workplace, retirement, political correctness, and of course sex (or the lack of it) had struck a chord.