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“I can’t take so much sunshine up my ass. It makes me itch.”
— John Bosworth
During the 80s, I was a physics student fascinated with the progress of the home computer. In the 90s, I was a software engineer working with computers professionally. Halt and Catch Fire is a dramatization of that culture and era starting in 1983. Perhaps this makes me prone towards liking this show more than others, but my guess is that most people likely to read my blog fall in that same category.
In season one, the story introduces Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace), a salesman who left IBM on less-than-ideal terms. He latches onto the fictional company, Cardiff Electric, based in Silicon Prairie, which in this case refers to Texas. He convinces (forces?) Cardiff Electric to include within their business plan the development of portable computers. Familiar (to me) terms such as “XT,” “286,” “386,” and “GUI” are thrown around as several companies vie to get their idea to the market first. By the end of the series, they progressed to the early 90s and the birth of the internet, and during more than a decade, the characters develop, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Their mistakes have them pushing each other apart, yet they always find themselves coming back together, which in turn leaves you hopeful at the end of the series even though there’s distance between some of them.
While I was never involved on the sales end of the industry, I was certainly the salesmen’s target, and I feel like the writing and acting capture the feel for that era quite well. Is it an exaggeration of the truth? At times, of course, but in this case that’s not done merely for the sake of drama. Many of us that are or were in the industry hold a romanticized memory of those times, and we’re just as guilty of exaggerating the events of them as the show’s writers did.
If, like me, you need an excuse to choose one show over another, here it is: If anything I said above sounds appealing to you, consider watching this one. It’s only four seasons, with only ten 50-minute episodes each. At the very least, if you’re as old as I, you’ll love the 80s and 90s music. It’s not as important to the show as it is to, for example, Guardians of the Galaxy, but it’ll remind you to give some songs another listen.
P.S. I hate Cameron and Gordon. I knew too many of them.
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