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When Texas was the Wild West of tech

Molly Wood and Austin Cross Jun 12, 2015
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In the early 1980s, Texas was at the forefront of tech design and innovation. The prairie was a veritable Wild West, where a single line of code could mean the difference between fortune and failure.

During the decade, developers, opportunists and fortune-seekers converged on the Lone Star state to get a piece of the tech boom. Writers Chris Rogers and Chris Cantwell chose this setting as the backdrop for their their new show, “Halt and Catch Fire,” now in its second season on AMC.

“Usually, we’re trying to tell the story you don’t know,” Cantwell says. “This is, we think, an untold history of tech and where we are today.”

The show’s first season follows salesman Joe MacMillan as he endeavors to create a brand-new computer by reverse engineering a system already in use by IBM. What ensues is everything from fist fights to sabotage. As an homage to the unsung women of early computing, Season 2 switches everything up, shifting the focus to the young and brilliant programmer Cameron Howe.

Coming on the heels of “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and “Walking Dead,” “Halt and Catch Fire” is a bit of an about-face for AMC.

Despite the low numbers for its second season debut, Cantwell and Rogers remain optimistic that viewers will come to appreciate the program’s unique setting and characters.

“Now AMC has kind of earned our trust,” Chris Rogers  says “Shows that have premises that might not immediately be obvious to you … you’re willing to ride out and buy the premise because it’s AMC in a way that you wouldn’t be willing to do in a lot of other networks.”

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