Halt and Catch Fire was a TV series that premiered in 2014, ran for four seasons, and went hugely unnoticed. That it flew so far under the radar is a pity, because its decades-spanning story about technological innovators, their successes, failures, and the friendships that pin it all together, is as compelling and addictive as any of the better-known “prestige” shows that captured awards and imaginations at the time.
Created by Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers, Halt and Catch Fire begins in Texas in the 1980s at small electronics company Cardiff Electric. Under the guidance of ex-IBM whiz-kid Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace) and company exec John “Bos” Bosworth (Toby Huss), a group of engineers led by Gordon Clarke (Scoot McNairy) attempt to create a home computer to compete with the industry giants.
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They recruit a young programmer named Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis), a prodigious and fiery talent. Meanwhile, Gordon’s equally gifted wife, Donna (Kerry Bishé), begins the story by looking after their children and working a job that fails to recognise her worth. As her lack of fulfilment grows, she too is drawn into the project, which culminates in a race against the clock to be ready for the make-or-break industry convention, COMDEX.