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Halt and Catch Fire: The PC Wars Come to TV
Popular Mechanics ^ | June 3, 2014 | Alyson Sheppard

Posted on 06/10/2014 5:13:00 AM PDT by PJ-Comix

Oscilloscopes! Hexadecimal code! 1980s Porsches! This is the world of AMC’s newest period piece, Halt and Catch Fire, which debuted June 1 (watch the full pilot episode here). The network’s next great hope for another Mad Men or Breaking Bad, Halt dives deep into the nerdy early days of the PC, hoping Sunday night TV viewers will go as gaga for Big Blue as they did for Blue Sky.

The show transports us back to a fictional 1983, when personal computing was booming in Texas’ Silicon Prairie. We follow a slick visionary, a schmuck engineer, and a wonder-kid coder as they team up to infiltrate and subvert that world.

(Excerpt) Read more at popularmechanics.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: tv
I've been watching this show but does anybody else think Cameron is incredibly annoying with her chip-on-the-shoulder "edginess?"
1 posted on 06/10/2014 5:13:01 AM PDT by PJ-Comix
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To: PJ-Comix
Haha, actually I think all the characters are annoying but I thought the same of my co-workers at time.

I'm still on the fence on this one. Watching with interest but fighting the impression that it's simply Mad Men repackaged.

2 posted on 06/10/2014 5:20:14 AM PDT by Proud_texan (Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then. - PK Dick)
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To: Proud_texan

Wasn’t the IBM bios code at that time written and owned by Microsoft?


3 posted on 06/10/2014 5:22:17 AM PDT by PJ-Comix (Boko Haram was enabled by Buku Huma)
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To: PJ-Comix
I don't think so. I looked at it pretty close and eventually the code was published in the IBM PC Tech Ref manual and it looked to be the part that IBM contributed.

On the other hand IBM got the operating system (DOS) from MS who had purchased the marketing rights from Seattle Computer Products.

4 posted on 06/10/2014 5:26:04 AM PDT by Proud_texan (Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then. - PK Dick)
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To: Proud_texan
I looked at it pretty close and eventually the code was published in the IBM PC Tech Ref manual and it looked to be the part that IBM contributed.

So why would they need to "reverse engineer" it in the show?

5 posted on 06/10/2014 5:28:38 AM PDT by PJ-Comix (Boko Haram was enabled by Buku Huma)
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To: PJ-Comix
Copyright issues. A direct copy would have been illegal and IBM would have crushed them. If I recall correctly the clones did exactly what is described in the program; put programmers in a locked room and described a task and had them come up with a solution independent of the actual IBM solution.

And it's been a while but I seem to recall one of the more difficult parts was the section of the BIOS that read "COPYRIGHT IBM". I'm pretty sure the IBM version of DOS read the BIOS and looked for that string and if it wasn't there it wouldn't load.

But since IBM didn't have an exclusive on DOS from Microsoft it was possible for the clone makers to come out with their own versions with subtle differences thus you had Compaq DOS, etc. After a bit MS produced generic versions branded by them.

6 posted on 06/10/2014 5:35:10 AM PDT by Proud_texan (Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then. - PK Dick)
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To: PJ-Comix

If my memory serves Microsoft got it from some guy in New Mexico for peanuts.


7 posted on 06/10/2014 5:36:00 AM PDT by Portcall24 (aer)
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To: Proud_texan
When negotiating with MS on MSDOS IBM's legal team didn't want to own MSDOS fearing liability issues so they agreed to let MS keep it and pay them a license fee for each unit.

Worse deal ever made until last week.

8 posted on 06/10/2014 5:46:50 AM PDT by AU72
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To: PJ-Comix

The series is okay, not great.

It attracts those of us who had an interest in the technology of that era. My first computer experience was using a TRS-80, Model II at work. When the Dept. Head purchased the system, everyone else in the Dept was afraid to even touch it.


9 posted on 06/10/2014 5:49:34 AM PDT by TomGuy
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To: TomGuy

bookmark bump


10 posted on 06/10/2014 5:53:15 AM PDT by Nowhere Man (Mom I miss you! (8-20-1938 to 11-18-2013) Cancer sucks)
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To: PJ-Comix
does anybody else think Cameron is incredibly annoying with her chip-on-the-shoulder "edginess?"

It's the standard in TV these days when a woman is part of the boys' club. Or law office, or precinct house, or platoon, or study group.

11 posted on 06/10/2014 5:53:58 AM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (Truth sounds like hate to those who hate truth.)
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To: PJ-Comix
I'm trying to get my arms around the fact that Joe was a master Svengali in the first episode, but looked overwhelmed and directionless in the second. That really weakened the appeal of the show to me.

Cameron does come on a bit strong and irritating, but my understanding is that's a mark of a true visionary. Nothing else matters but the vision (including personal hygiene). The whole premise hinges on her, so she has to be an unpredictable wild card.

Gordon's intriguing to me. Being played as a guy who "had his shot" and lost and now relegated to performing mind-numbing work to earn a living, but there's still some gas left in his tank. I liked his transition from episode 1 to episode 2. Good to see him get his backbone back.

Still hanging in there for now, but I don't think it's ever going to rise to the level of replacing Mad Men for me.

12 posted on 06/10/2014 5:55:29 AM PDT by cincinnati65
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To: Proud_texan
I'm still on the fence on this one.

Me too, I haven't watched the second episode yet. I thought the pilot was decent, but not great.

Watching with interest but fighting the impression that it's simply Mad Men repackaged.

It damn sure isn't Mad Men. Mad Men had me hooked halfway through the first episode.

13 posted on 06/10/2014 5:57:00 AM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: PJ-Comix

In 1987 I was in a waiting for an interview. I picked up a technical news paper. One small article caught my eye. It basically said that, as soon as the South Koreans managed to reverse-engineer American desktop computers/components/software, the US prices would drop.

At the time, a complete desktop set up — computer, monitor, printer & peripherals — could easily cost over $6,000.

About 2 years later, the SK’s were importing desktop pcs and components. Prices dropped significantly. An entire system (computer, printer, monitor, peripherals) were around $3,000.


14 posted on 06/10/2014 5:57:17 AM PDT by TomGuy
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To: AU72
Excellent detail, thanks.

Another bad deal is when Digital Research let the OS deal get away from them over a NDA.

It could have been a very different world.

15 posted on 06/10/2014 5:58:36 AM PDT by Proud_texan (Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then. - PK Dick)
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To: PJ-Comix

I watch the first episode and didn’t care for it, but I’m willing to give it a little longer because AMC shows start slowly. Reading hexadecimal codes from LEDs doesn’t make for thrilling TV, especially when one of the values they read was wrong (1101 is D not B).


16 posted on 06/10/2014 6:02:03 AM PDT by KarlInOhio (Republican amnesty supporters don't care whether their own homes are called mansions or haciendas.)
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To: KarlInOhio

Watch -> watched. preview is there for a reason.


17 posted on 06/10/2014 6:07:33 AM PDT by KarlInOhio (Republican amnesty supporters don't care whether their own homes are called mansions or haciendas.)
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To: PJ-Comix
IBM wrote the BIOS.

Bill Gates sold them MS-DOS, which he bought from Tim Paterson as QDOS.

IBM was originally going to license CP/M, but Gary Killdall played games with them too long and Bill stepped in.

18 posted on 06/10/2014 6:08:49 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum ("The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the government." --Tacitus)
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To: KarlInOhio
"I watch the first episode and didn’t care for it, but I’m willing to give it a little longer because AMC shows start slowly"

"Halt and Catch Fire" isn't an area of interest for me, but I agree about some AMC shows. "TURN" started off slowly and then ramped up to become a no-miss program for me.

19 posted on 06/10/2014 6:22:36 AM PDT by CatherineofAragon ((Support Christian white males---the architects of the jewel known as Western Civilization).)
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To: PJ-Comix

I watched about 1 1/2 episodes and deleted it. I’ve had my fill of main characters who are sociopaths.

Yes the oh-so-hip Cameron was way too sure of herself and too dismissive of anything else; there was nothing I liked about her either.


20 posted on 06/10/2014 6:25:05 AM PDT by jiggyboy
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To: PJ-Comix

I bought my first computer, and IBM PC back in April of 1983. With the printer and monitor the entire system cost me over $6,000.

Just to show you how prices have fallen in the industry, I just bought a Thinkpad last month, which is easily 10 times faster with 1,000 times more storage capacity, for $650.


21 posted on 06/10/2014 6:26:41 AM PDT by MNnice
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To: Proud_texan
Another bad deal is when Digital Research let the OS deal get away from them over a NDA.

Word was Gary Kildell blew off the big meeting with IBM.

I remember when I managed one of the first retail computer stores in Boston in 1980 where we sold Apple and we had former DEC programmers crack open the CP/M code to have it run on Apple so we could sell Wordstar along with Visicalc to accounting firms.

That was a lawsuit dodged.

22 posted on 06/10/2014 6:34:57 AM PDT by AU72
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To: All

watched a few minutes of the start.

disliked the characters, nothing redeemable, stopped and deleted.

Complete waste of time.

A fake command used as a title to a series that is best left in the bargain bin software box.


23 posted on 06/10/2014 7:04:47 AM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: CatherineofAragon

“TURN” started off slowly and then ramped up to become a no-miss program for me.

***
My biggest complaint is the fact that we have to “rewind” to catch some of the dialogue. Most annoying. Second complaint is the celebration of adultery.

I don’t know if I will watch season 2.


24 posted on 06/10/2014 7:08:42 AM PDT by Bigg Red (31 May 2014: Obamugabe officially declares the USA a vanquished subject of the Global Caliphate.)
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To: PJ-Comix

Pretty sobering that the 1980s have become the old days.


25 posted on 06/10/2014 7:09:24 AM PDT by Bigg Red (31 May 2014: Obamugabe officially declares the USA a vanquished subject of the Global Caliphate.)
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To: AU72
"Word was Gary Kildell blew off..."

IIRC, he actually FLEW off -- in his private plane -- instead of meeting with IBM.

Not the brightest decision he ever made...

26 posted on 06/10/2014 7:10:35 AM PDT by DJ Frisat (Proudly providing the NSA with provocative textual content since 1995!)
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To: DJ Frisat
I've heard that story, too. The quote was something like "I'm gonna go punch holes in the sky, don't want to spend the day with suits" or something like it.

But the NDA issue seems to be the "official" story.

Never met the man but I expect the former.

27 posted on 06/10/2014 7:23:34 AM PDT by Proud_texan (Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then. - PK Dick)
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To: Bigg Red

It seems there’s a lot of that mumbling going on when actors deliver their lines. I wondered if I was the only one who thought so. My hearing is fine, but yes, I do find I have to rewind.

Unfortunately the ratings for “TURN” weren’t very good, so unless AMC wants to give it another chance, I don’t know if it will return. Meanwhile, “Honey Boo-Boo” continues to be a ratings winner....


28 posted on 06/10/2014 7:34:26 AM PDT by CatherineofAragon ((Support Christian white males---the architects of the jewel known as Western Civilization).)
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To: AU72
Amazing the amount of contortions that used to be required just to get stuff done. And how crummy the software really was.

But at the time I sure liked it.

29 posted on 06/10/2014 7:39:42 AM PDT by Proud_texan (Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then. - PK Dick)
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To: CatherineofAragon

Check out “Fargo.”


30 posted on 06/10/2014 7:46:30 AM PDT by PJ-Comix (Boko Haram was enabled by Buku Huma)
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To: PJ-Comix

Thanks for the recommend


31 posted on 06/10/2014 7:52:22 AM PDT by CatherineofAragon ((Support Christian white males---the architects of the jewel known as Western Civilization).)
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To: Proud_texan
Amazing the amount of contortions that used to be required just to get stuff done. And how crummy the software really was.

We sold a lot of accounting packages that consisted of an Apple II, Visicalc, Wordstar, Corvus 5mb HD and Spinwriter letter quality printer. Price was just south of 9 grand.

32 posted on 06/10/2014 8:02:09 AM PDT by AU72
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To: AU72
Yeah, convoluted and expensive. I remember when the computer you actually wanted was always $5k.

Ah, remember all of those well with the exception of the Corvus. I didn't jump on the HD wagon until the Davong which I recall was about 5Mb and about $5k.

And I just recalled a fond memory not only of serial printers in general but also the giant enclosures used for the Spinwriter in an office setting. Those were extremely LOUD suckers to be sure.

33 posted on 06/10/2014 8:10:57 AM PDT by Proud_texan (Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then. - PK Dick)
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To: Proud_texan
Those were extremely LOUD suckers to be sure.

Yeah they screamed at 55 cps. You could replenish whole reefs with them now.

34 posted on 06/10/2014 8:12:47 AM PDT by AU72
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To: AU72
Speaking of reefs...

THE WORLD’S FIRST LOW TECHNOLOGY ARTIFICAL REEF

The funny thing is I never had a problem with those CMI drives.

35 posted on 06/10/2014 8:28:53 AM PDT by Proud_texan (Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then. - PK Dick)
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To: Proud_texan
The funny thing is I never had a problem with those CMI drives.

That's bringing me back when I was stuck at a Computerland that sold AT's on the grey market by getting them without the HD and substituting.

IBM got the wind of this and almost yanked Comperland's distribution rights.

36 posted on 06/10/2014 8:32:50 AM PDT by AU72
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To: PJ-Comix

I like the show,, and still believe there is potential for a show showing the early days here in SV..
I hear the 80’s were rockin’ out here...


37 posted on 06/10/2014 8:44:17 AM PDT by ▀udda▀udd (>> F U B O << "What the hell kind of country is this if I can only hate a man if he's white?")
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To: CatherineofAragon
It seems there’s a lot of that mumbling going on when actors deliver their lines.

I've noticed that too. I suspect it's a combination of trying to mimic the authentic British speech of the time plus they're often speaking in hushed voices, almost a whisper. Very hard to comprehend at times.

38 posted on 06/10/2014 8:45:40 AM PDT by ken in texas
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To: ken in texas
"I've noticed that too. I suspect it's a combination of trying to mimic the authentic British speech of the time plus they're often speaking in hushed voices, almost a whisper. Very hard to comprehend at times."

That's a good point. Since TURN was about a spy ring, there was necessarily a lot of hushed speaking.

39 posted on 06/10/2014 9:36:04 AM PDT by CatherineofAragon ((Support Christian white males---the architects of the jewel known as Western Civilization).)
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bkmk


40 posted on 06/10/2014 10:28:39 AM PDT by AllAmericanGirl44
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To: Bigg Red

“Pretty sobering that the 1980s have become the old days.”

Man, you think that is sobering. I was fixing NCR’s J/K flip-flops by replacing diods and transistors in the ‘60s. I remember when going from “or/and” gates to “nor/nan” gates was “revolutionary”. NCR even tried rod memory instead of donuts. Been quite a ride.


41 posted on 06/10/2014 11:43:09 AM PDT by Gadsden1st
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To: Gadsden1st

Ha ha! Your response was to a non-techie old lady who is lucky she knows the difference between hard drive and a hard sell.


42 posted on 06/10/2014 1:42:42 PM PDT by Bigg Red (31 May 2014: Obamugabe officially declares the USA a vanquished subject of the Global Caliphate.)
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To: PJ-Comix

When Lee Pace started making out with that dude, I deleted the series from my DVR. No thanks.

Someone mentioned Fargo. It’s one of the few shows I will buy on Blu-Ray when it comes out. Great show.


43 posted on 06/19/2014 1:53:35 PM PDT by Rastus
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