A show that kept changing its shape, Halt and Catch Fire began as a show about computer programmers in 1980s Dallas. The central cast was small. Joe MacMillan, formerly of IBM, joins a small computer company with plans to create a new personal computer. There, he meets Cameron Howe, a young programmer; Gordon Clark, longtime employee of the company; and Donna Clark, Gordon’s wife. Over the course of the show, these characters constantly shift their roles and relationships as they try to keep up with the ever-changing nature of the technology sector. Eventually the show covers more than a decade as we witness the first Silicon Valley boom, the emergence of the video game industry and the earliest social networks. It’s a different, affecting approach to depicting technology and the impact it has on people. Often stories about settings like this turn all the characters into ciphers, making them more like computers by making them less than human. But Halt and Catch Fire uses the restlessness of the technology sector as a yardstick for measuring the characters’ own desires to shift and change, their relationships pushing and pulling with every dip in the stock market. It’s a remarkably human way of looking at the effect technology has on our lives, an effect that grows more and more consequential every day.
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