Computer History Documentaries – part 2

It’s been a while since I posted this list of some of the computer history documentaries and dramas that I’ve found most interesting, so I have a few more to recommend and add to the list:

  • Silicon Cowboys – fascinating documentary about Compaq, the development of their luggable PC, and their impact on the development of the PC Compatible market. (4/27/17 – this is currently on Netflix)
  • Bedrooms to Billions – The Amiga Years : incredibly well put together indie documentary about the Amiga
  • Bedrooms to Billions: documentary about the development of the home computer games industry in the UK and Europe. Includes many interviews with the original developers and many involved in the industry at the time. If you had any interest in computer games around the mid to late 80s in the UK, this is a must watch
  • Beep – documentary about sound and music development for computer games
  • Get Lamp – documentary by Jason Scott, covering text based computer adventure games
Nicola Caulfield & Anthony Caulfield (who produced the Bedrooms to Billions documentaries) currently have a new documentary called ‘The Playstation Revolution’ that just reached it’s funding goal on Kickstarter, but if you’d like to back it you can back via MegaFounder (linked from the Late Backer link on the Kickstarter page)

Matt Chat: Interview with producers of From Bedrooms to Billions (Anthony and Nicola Caulfield)

If you have any interest in the early history of the computer games industry in the UK (8bit to 16bit), then you have to (if you haven’t already) watch From Bedrooms to Billions, a kickstarter funded documentary by Anthony and Nicola Caulfield. If you’ve ever wondered what happened to those developers that we used to read about in C&VG and the companies behind the games, these guys managed to track down and interview pretty much anyone who was anyone back during those days, capturing amazing stories on film. The documentary also includes an interview with the legendary Matthew Smith who disappeared off the face of the earth for decades. It’s incredibly fascinating and brings back memories from those 8bit days.

Anthony and Nicola also have another documentary currently in production focusing on the Commodore Amiga, also recently successfully funded on Kickstarter and will be released soon, The Amiga Years.

I also stumbled across this video podcast series on YouTube with an interview with the Caulfields, in which they discuss the behind the scenes work involved in production of the first documentary and The Amiga Years – this in itself is also a fascinating insight into the early days of the UK games industry and how the documentary was developed. You can check it out here in part 1part 2, and part 3.

Pirates of Silicon Valley – the original Jobs vs Gates film

Just in time for the new ‘Steve Jobs‘ film that launches next weekend, cnet have an article re-reviewing the 1999 film, ‘Pirates of Silicon Valley’. I’ve written before how I’m fascinated by these dramatizations of IT history, although beyond historical facts you have to wonder how much of the character portrayal is exaggerated for show.

Anyway, Pirates is one of my favorites – for some reason I have a copy on VHS, DVD, and a few months back I paid to watch it again on streaming when I forgot I already had a copy on DVD. Must be getting old. It’s based in part on the classic textbook ‘Fire in the Valley‘ by Swaine and Freiberger, which was recently updated and re-released (2014 3rd Edition) to cover the death of Jobs, Gates and Balmer retiring from Microsoft, and start of the ‘post-PC’ era of mobile devices. The 2nd Edition that I picked up as used copy a while back (that I’m about 4/5 through right now) is subtitled “The Making of the Personal Computer”. The 3rd edition has been retitled ”The Birth and Death of the Personal Computer”. It’s a fascinating read (although long), covering far more history that the material that was used for the Pirates film. It covers early development of the MITS Altair and the IMSAI 8080, the Apple I, and several years before we even got to release of the IBM PC. It’s a fascinating read if you’re less familiar with the early days of microcomputer history. I’ll be picking up a copy of the updated 3rd edition at some point too.