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The tech wonderland of “Halt and Catch Fire’s” 1986 sets

Last spring, when AMC’s period tech-industry drama Halt and Catch Fire was filming its third season in Atlanta, I got to drop in, observe an episode in the making, and explore the show’s recreation of San Francisco in 1986, which spans multiple ambitious sets. I wrote about the experience at great length for a feature we posted … Continue reading “The tech wonderland of “Halt and Catch Fire’s” 1986 sets”

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Last spring, when AMC’s period tech-industry drama Halt and Catch Fire was filming its third season in Atlanta, I got to drop in, observe an episode in the making, and explore the show’s recreation of San Francisco in 1986, which spans multiple ambitious sets. I wrote about the experience at great length for a feature we posted this weekend, but it was such a geeky delight that I could go on and on.

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Here’s a close-up view I cropped out of one of AMC’s publicity photos of a scene set in the office of Mutiny, one of the show’s fictitious startups. It gives a sense of the care the show’s creators invested in outfitting its work with era-appropriate technology.

Those are Commodore 64 computers, monitors, and disk drives, and I just this moment noticed that one of them has a “Refurbished by Commodore” sticker on it. (They could have removed it before sticking the device on the set, but leaving it on is a nice touch.)

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Note also that there’s a box of floppy disks atop one of the monitors—a really bad idea, at least according to the conventional wisdom of the time, which said that magnets inside monitors could zap the data on disks. Despite that widely known advice, people kept floppies on or near monitors all the time, so doing so here adds to the realism rather than distracting from it.

Anyhow, enough for now. If you’re fascinated by tech history, you need to watch Halt and Catch Fire. The new season airs on Tuesdays on AMC, and you can stream the first two episodes here.

[Photo: Tina Rowden, courtesy of AMC]

About the author

Harry McCracken is the technology editor for Fast Company, based in San Francisco. In past lives, he was editor at large for Time magazine, founder and editor of Technologizer, and editor of PC World.

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