did any of you see the last episode of “Halt and catch fire”. It was named “Adventure” and had a lot of references to the original game by Will Crowther (including famous words like (Xyzzy, Plugh, Plover or Fee Fie Foe Foo). Very funny watching and even more funny when you know all the insider jokes.
I enjoyed the Adventure reference, but I must admit, this show continues to fall further and further below my expectations. The characters are all dislikable, the drama is convoluted and there’s not enough '80s in it! But otherwise, it’s great. So I am now several episodes behind in my viewing and I’m not sure I’m gonna catch up.
They didn’t just make reference to ‘Adventure’ on Halt and Catch Fire. They went much, much further than that…
[spoiler]In an episode focusing on the game basically taking over the office and destroying productivity (which may count as the only accurate part of this portrayal), they use the game as the inspiration for their most ‘brilliant’ programmer to come up with an idea for an entire operating system based on the command line interface. Not only do they (1) completely ignore that this is exactly what computer interfaces of the era already did, but they (2) talk about the idea as if it were a stroke of genius unglimpsed by anyone else around, (3) make it sound like the computer would actually be holding a text-based conversation with you ‘just like’ in Adventure, which no one who ever actually tried to solve it would ever describe that way, (4) make a ‘brilliant’ programmer be the one to describe Adventure this way, (5) (and most unforgivably) act as if simply stating your desires to a computer in plain English and having it answer intelligently, has not been the explicit central unattainable Holy Grail of computer interface design ever since even before Star Trek made it the default fantasy regarding computer interfaces in 1966.
The ignorance it took to write this stuff is astounding, and preposterous. But hey I’m enjoying the hell out of it anyway. The show is not that bad. The female lead seems a bit too socially superfluent and sexually uninhibited to have plausibly spent 95% of her free time cloistered in a room attaining the topmost levels of nerd brilliance in coding (no I’m not saying it’s impossible - just not the usual relatively introverted coder type), but y’know… what else is new? It’s Hollywood.[/spoiler]
Note: Subsequent episodes of Halt and Catch Fire have had them not completely ignoring the pre-existence of the command-line interface the way they did in the first half. There is an attempt to give the character Gordon the perspective of engineering reality (and actual awareness of history), but there is also an attempt to balance that by making the idea of a question-and-answer text interface in 1984 seem like a brilliant idea glimpsed before its time and ignored by lost-in-the-trees hardware engineers, which, as I explained in the more spoiler-heavy section above, is simply ludicrous. The question-and-answer interface idea proposed is just plain stupid for 1984 (heck it’s not even a particularly great idea, today, when we can do it ‘right’), as everyone with any knowledge whatsoever back then would have clearly perceived.
I separate all this however from my appreciation of the drama, which has been great. I really do enjoy this show despite having been quite technically fluent in every device I could get my hands on throughout the '80s and thus being able to detect every iota of bullshit being disseminated. I also love Breaking Bad despite having read a rant by a real drug dealer of its complete confabulated mythology regarding behind-the-scenes drug culture.
All fiction is woefully inaccurate to someone who approaches expertise. One needs to separate the having of knowledge superior to that of narrative artists in a field, from the act of enjoying a piece of entertainment. If possible. As long as the story achieves some kind of suspense. I do not forgive writerly incompetence in what is supposed to be a -writer’s- area of expertise: keeping me interested in experiencing more.