Halt And Catch Fire Introduces AMC’s Series About The Early Computer Industry

By David Wharton | Published

Computer technology has become so prevalent and advanced so quickly over the past few decades, it’s easy to forget how comparatively recent their origins truly are. We’ve seen several dramatic looks at the personalities who helped shape the computer revolution, from Ashton Kutcher’s 2013 performance in Jobs to TNT’s 1999 TV movie Pirates of Silicon Valley. Now a new series from the network that brought us Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead is returning to the early days of the computer industry with Halt and Catch Fire, which premieres June 1 on AMC. You can check out the first trailer for the series up top.

Much of the early computer boom was very much happening in ground-level garage workshops, and Halt and Catch Fire looks to explore that corner of history. Set during the early 1980s, the show follows three friends and partners: Joe (Lee Pace), Gordon (Scoot McNairy), and Cameron (Mackenzie Davis). As the series opens, IBM has utterly cornered the market on the home computer, but, as Deadline puts it, “people realize that the IBM PC has a fatal flaw, which quickly makes personal computing anyone’s game.” Here’s the official synopsis:

Set in the early 1980s, series dramatizes the personal computing boom through the eyes of a visionary, an engineer and a prodigy whose innovations directly confront the corporate behemoths of the time. Their personal and professional partnership will be challenged by greed and ego while charting the changing culture in Texas’ Silicon Prairie.

That’s got plenty of dramatic potential, if it can focus on the interpersonal drama and accept that it’s hard to make shots of dudes soldering circuit-boards into gripping television if we don’t care about the characters involved. Whether we have reason to get excited remains to be seen. The show was created by a pair of dudes named Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers. The two don’t have many produced credits between them, although they’ve got multiple projects in development, including an untitled feature project with Oblivion/Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski.

As for AMC, its produced some amazing show, but their actual track record outside of their core three shows is decidedly hit or miss. Their core three shows mentioned above are major players, obviously, but once you venture beyond them you run into misfires like Low Winter Sun, shows that ran longer than they deserved to (The Killing and Hell on Wheels) or outright head scratchers like arm-wrestling reality series Game of Arms. Here’s hoping the AMC we get with Halt and Catch Fire is the Breaking Bad AMC and not the Small Town Security AMC.