“Computers aren’t the thing,” says Joe, in his farewell to Cameron. “They’re the thing that gets you to the thing. You were the thing.” Human beings are the signal, and everything else is just noise. This is Halt and Catch Fire’s most radical message, the one the tech industry would do well to heed as the online world grows more toxic and depersonalized with every passing day. Computers were and are nothing more than tools, boxes of beautiful ideas that are only as valuable as they are human—ones whose connections can destroy us as easily as they can draw us together, if we are not careful. But at their best, they can connect us with the thing that really matters: the people who will stand with us on the precipice of our lives, gazing down at the chasm of the next challenge, and hold our hands as we jump into the unknown.
Halt and Catch Fire is at its best in the moments in which it crafts a narrative in which women and people of color are in the spotlight, giving rise to major tech innovations as leaders.
In the world of Halt and Catch Fire, the most powerful VC is a woman, the inventor of the first search site is a teenage girl, the lead of a VC firm’s best innovation is a black woman, and the most brilliant coder is, again, a woman.
It’s beautiful to watch, and just as gripping, if not more so, than watching a couple of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs stand-ins vie for control of the nascent tech universe.