Skip to comments.Halt and Catch Fire: The PC Wars Come to TV
Posted on 06/10/2014 5:13:00 AM PDT by PJ-Comix
Oscilloscopes! Hexadecimal code! 1980s Porsches! This is the world of AMCs newest period piece, Halt and Catch Fire, which debuted June 1 (watch the full pilot episode here). The networks 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 ...
I'm still on the fence on this one. Watching with interest but fighting the impression that it's simply Mad Men repackaged.
Wasn’t the IBM bios code at that time written and owned by Microsoft?
On the other hand IBM got the operating system (DOS) from MS who had purchased the marketing rights from Seattle Computer Products.
So why would they need to "reverse engineer" it in the show?
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.
If my memory serves Microsoft got it from some guy in New Mexico for peanuts.
Worse deal ever made until last week.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Watch -> watched. preview is there for a reason.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
Pretty sobering that the 1980s have become the old days.
IIRC, he actually FLEW off -- in his private plane -- instead of meeting with IBM.
Not the brightest decision he ever made...
But the NDA issue seems to be the "official" story.
Never met the man but I expect the former.
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....
But at the time I sure liked it.
Check out “Fargo.”
Thanks for the recommend
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.
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.
Yeah they screamed at 55 cps. You could replenish whole reefs with them now.
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.
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...
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.
“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.
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.
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.