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Halt and Catch Fire

Seasons: 4
Episodes: 40
User ratings: 24,172
Average rating: 8.4


The early 1980s was the early heyday of the technological revolution. Silicon Prairie, centered on Dallas, was one area in the US where much of the activity in this sector was happening. There were a few "name" corporate players in each sector, such as International Business Machines (IBM) in personal computers (PC), Xerox in document management, and Texas Instruments (TI) in semiconductors. Standard corporate practice was to improve technology gradually and charge customers a premium for successive technologically advanced models of products. Within this framework, there were many dreamers, often working in smaller companies or for themselves, who wanted their small, or not so small, piece of the pie, whether it be for fortune and/or fame, the latter often in having a lasting legacy. Those dreams also varied, from only doing things better than their competitors, however small, to producing things that were revolutionary for the time, that made the general public go "wow", as were the rationale for those dreams.

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Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4


Episodes details table

The Texan company Cardiff Electronics gets a new employee from New York. He's apparently working for IBM, but after the he gets the new job it gets clear that he has a hidden agenda, and is not exactly what he claims to be.
User ratings: 929
Average rating: 8.1
Joe's team must overcome internal differences and start building the new machine.
User ratings: 705
Average rating: 8.1
High Plains Hardware
Despite IBM's raid on Cardiff Electric's clients, Joe has convinced those concerned, most specifically Gordon and Cameron, to continue with the PC project. The company is in a much weakened state because of the raid leading to staff layoffs, which an ill-equipped Gordon is responsible for issuing to the affected engineering staff, and the search for investors for the PC project. Joe and Bosworth have differing views on where those moneys can potentially come from. Gordon, with a much reduced staff, is working on the engineering issues Joe wants for the PC, namely that it now be portable and no heavier than 15 pounds. Gordon gets some help from an unexpected source, that help which has repercussions in that person's own professional life. Conversely, he faces a roadblock with another, that roadblock which he sees more clearly after a traffic incident. Cameron, basically living in her "office", is having a mental block in writing the BIOS code. She wanders around the Cardiff Electric offices she believes under the radar, but takes some measures to unblock her brain.
User ratings: 618
Average rating: 7.7
Close to the Metal
With a mid-project success with the BIOS code, Joe makes two bold moves within the office. First, he destroys the book that contains the IBM proprietary code, and second, he invites Wall Street Quarterly to do a story about their PC clone project. The story Joe wants written may not happen first because the reporter, Ron Kane, doesn't see what's happening as being newsworthy, and second as a crisis occurs in the office during Kane's visit, that crisis issue which may in turn be the story. As Joe tries to manage Kane, Gordon tries to manage the actual crisis issue by calling in an outside expert, that person who does not sit well with Joe. Cameron, who outwardly is most affected by the crisis issue, takes action to some news she learns during the crisis which may affect her already tenuous relationship with her co-workers, most specifically Gordon. Because of distractions in her life, Donna's work at TI suffers. The Cardiff Electric crisis and Donna's work issues affect the Clarks' personal life, these issues in combination which have the potential either to bring Donna and Gordon closer together or tear them apart. And wondering what happened to cause LouLu Lutherford not to return his telephone calls, Nathan expresses his concern to John about what looks like he is letting Joe take over the running of the company. While Joe makes one move which may prove that Nathan is correct, John, independently of Joe's move, makes one of his own.
User ratings: 590
Average rating: 8.3
The Wall Street Quarterly article and Cameron being able to complete the BIOS code have created renewed public interest in the PC project, upon which Joe wants to capitalize, not only for the project but also for himself. Cameron is dismayed however to learn that Joe's suggested vacation for her was so that he could hire a software engineering team behind her back. She does find that there are like minded individuals among the team, but she isn't sure if she can work under her new boss, the overly bureaucratic Steve. Gordon believes he has a possible solution to the computer's weight issue and the contacts to achieve his plan, Gordon's initiative which irks Joe under the surface as he was not the one to initiate it. Regardless, Joe believes he needs to be involved in the meeting with Gordon and the Japanese manufacturers to discuss the issue, and later clean up the mess that Gordon creates at that meeting, which Joe feels has placed him once again as being in a position of being indispensable. After a few bumps in the road, Donna gets back into Hunt's good graces... perhaps a little too good. And Joe receives a surprise visit from his IBM executive father, Joe MacMillan Sr. Joe Jr. has to decide what to do about his father, who he really does not want to see. Joe Sr. does gain some insight about Joe Jr.'s current dealings from a few secondary sources regardless of if he gets to see his son.
User ratings: 576
Average rating: 8.3
Cameron and Gordon clash over their differing plans for the computer's operating system while Joe struggles to connect with his colleagues.
User ratings: 550
Average rating: 8.2
The next phase of the PC project is design. Believing it could be aesthetically beautiful and not just another beige box, Joe is able to call in an old friend, top industrial designer Simon Church, to come up with a concept. Simon's arrival onto the scene has the possibility to alienate both Gordon and Cameron, but for different reasons. Gordon is feeling tired of people not listening to him, and acts upon his new-found albeit temporary freedom with the girls while Donna is out of town on business. Donna, on the other hand, may also act upon her new temporary freedoms based on a business meeting and a telephone call home to Gordon. And while he has been issued a divorce petition, an action which no one in the company knows about, John gets more bad news: the PC project is out of money, and without a quick cash influx, the entire company could shut down within a week if the PC project proceeds. John has to find some money to tie them over until COMDEX in a couple of weeks, without letting the PC team know what's going on behind the scenes financially.
User ratings: 543
Average rating: 7.9
The 214s
Scandal rocks Cardiff Electric as the team finalizes preparations for COMDEX. Bosworth makes a sacrifice for the good of the PC program.
User ratings: 608
Average rating: 8.8
Up Helly Aa
Unforeseen adversaries and new complications threaten to derail all that the Cardiff Electric team has worked for at COMDEX.
User ratings: 625
Average rating: 9.0
As Gordon and Joe prepare to ship the Giant, a suspicious defect calls their partnership into question. Cameron takes her future into her own hands.
User ratings: 557
Average rating: 8.2
March, 1985. Cardiff Electric has had a few lucrative years in its foray into the personal computer business, with two models on the market, albeit neither being the revolutionary computer Cameron and Joe originally envisioned. Gordon is one of its presidents steering the ship. However, following Joe's meltdown, he ran off and is now living in Austin with his girlfriend, Sara, and is trying to find himself and whatever the next phase of his life. Part of the collateral damage of Joe's manoeuvrings is that Bosworth is still behind bars. With this history, there is still some bad blood between some of the players, which may never be water under the bridge. Nathan has decided to sell the company. Gordon and Joe individually contemplate what they can do with their share of the sale proceeds. Meanwhile, Cameron and Donna are having growing pains with their gaming company, Mutiny, operating on a flat organizational structure, meaning no real boss. Donna hates the fact that she feels the need to handle many of the administrative details, such as pay the bills, since no one else will do them. She is angry since she feels she has to be the "mother", which she already is at home. Donna knows that if things don't change, the company will collapse under its own success, something of which she has to convince Cameron, who always suggests band-aid after band-aid to deal with their problems as she focuses on what she wants to do, namely develop games.
User ratings: 484
Average rating: 8.1
New Coke
Joe begins a new job after meeting Sara's father; Gordon grapples with his newfound freedom; Donna is jolted by Cameron's surprising hire at Mutiny.
User ratings: 423
Average rating: 8.0
The Way In
Joe and Sara discuss what he should do about the job offered by her father, which he only found out after accepting it that it was a low level data entry job. Joe believes he has stumbled across an opportunity to reinvent his lucrative self in the process, which requires Jacob's approval to proceed. Joe and Sara decide to host their first Dallas dinner party to which they invite some surprised guests, who feel they can't decline if only out of sheer curiosity. Gordon too has stumbled on a short term task to keep him preoccupied, one that requires him to learn programming. That task is to help Donna and Mutiny figure out how many network users they have, and not just their paid subscribers, this information which will help Donna and Cameron when they talk to potential investors. Cameron finds that she has a love-hate relationship with Tom, in that he is knowledgeable about the leading edge of online gaming, but that his visions can be different than hers and that he is not hesitant to speak his mind bluntly, unlike the other coders. An incident occurs at Mutiny which threatens both the business in its entirety and Cameron and Donna's partnership, not only with Mutiny but in any future endeavors. And in wanting some of his old normalcy, Bosworth tries to reconnect with his family, his son James who is about to get married in Galveston. That reunion isn't all Bosworth wants it to be.
User ratings: 433
Average rating: 8.2
Play with Friends
Following the issue with Sonaris, Mutiny is on the verge of financial insolvency, with many of their users, especially their heaviest users, canceling their subscriptions. Cameron and Donna feel they have no other option but to renegotiate with their employees if they want to keep Mutiny going. Some wholeheartedly agree to their proposal, including Tom, who, however, seems not to be there fully in spirit, when he is there, following this point. Bosworth, not officially an employee, decides to use his skills as a salesman to help Cameron and Donna. This situation places a strain between Donna and Cameron while they decide what they have to forgo considering their resources. But it's an act by Cameron on an associated issue which may not only kibosh their business but their friendship. Joe's latest get rich scheme, using Westgroup's mainframe, gets officially kiboshed by a mid-level manager. As such, he decides to go rogue, trying to get Gordon involved without fully disclosing to Gordon that he does not have official authority to do any of the work. Gordon ultimately decides to help Joe if only because he believes he can help Donna in the process. Joe not only hides their activities from Jacob, but Gordon feels he can't tell Donna and especially Cameron Joe's involvement in what will be associated with Mutiny.
User ratings: 405
Average rating: 8.3
Extract and Defend
Cameron and Joe cross paths, sending Cameron into a tailspin; Gordon absorbs difficult news.
User ratings: 407
Average rating: 8.2
Gordon returns to California, in hopes of reconnecting with his brother; Joe uses his leverage.
User ratings: 417
Average rating: 8.3
Working for the Clampdown
Gordon tells Donna about his health issues. He downplays it in his own life as he starts a new venture with some old colleagues: custom built PCs. Donna has troubles with the health news, not only in that the impression she gets is that he felt he couldn't turn to her because of work issues, but also what it truly does mean for their lives. It is not good timing as Joe brings Westgroup/Jacob's offer to purchase Mutiny to the Mutiny team. The offer on the surface allows the current team to retain creative control, while behind the offer Jacob and Joe are solely interested in taking over the community aspect of their work, in Joe's words a forum to allow "housewives to share recipes". Joe understands that it is Cameron's continued mistrust of him that is the primary obstacle, and as such works on others who may have influence on her. What happens may depend on whether Cameron sees the company as hers or the collective. An incident specifically with Lev may change everything. With this deal going on, Sara and Joe have to figure out if they are moving in the same direction in their lives, and if there is a future for them as a couple. And Cameron gets to see a little more about Tom and his life.
User ratings: 402
Average rating: 8.4
Mutiny is holding its first ever appreciation picnic for its staff and customers. Beyond not liking being the center of public gatherings, Cameron avoids the picnic for another reason, as throughout the day she and Tom deal with some business and personal issues. Bosworth receives an unexpected but welcome visitor at the picnic, while Donna basks in what she sees as the success of Community with the number of customers who come to Mutiny solely for that function. Running around with all his nervous energy at the number of orders for customized PCs, Gordon, based on some incidents, becomes unfocused in his life, which leads to paranoia exacerbated by Stan's visit from California. Following his and Sara's elopement and decision to move to California, Joe wants to feel like he has left a legacy at Westgroup, which is making it more difficult for him to let go, especially as he only gets standardized platitudes from Jacob, who quickly replaces his position. The replacement, Jessie Evans, in turn, doesn't seem to want any transition period between himself and Joe. Following a goodbye to Dallas night on the town with Sara, Joe will discover why.
User ratings: 405
Average rating: 8.5
Everyone at Mutiny is still reeling from Westgroup hijacking its community function and its users and appropriating it all as their own called WestNet. Beyond the legal actions, Cameron, Donna and Bosworth have to figure out how to keep from going financially bankrupt. What happens affects both Tom and Bosworth directly. Joe is caught in the middle as Cameron is still certain he had something to do with it all, while Jacob believes Joe, who is angry with what transpired, will do nothing to protect his own future, which will also affect Sara. Meanwhile, Gordon, still in his paranoia, goes looking for who is behind JGL. In the process, Gordon may come to a realization about his own state of mind.
User ratings: 411
Average rating: 8.5
Heaven Is a Place
The Sonaris virus has destroyed Westgroup's mainframe, which is unofficially and publicly blamed on Joe. As such, this phase of Joe's career, and his marriage, seems to be once again destroyed. Only one person comes to Joe's defense, albeit solely in private, but which gives him an idea of how to rise from the ashes. With Westgroup out of the way, Cameron, Donna and their team have been able to rebuild Mutiny, even though Bosworth and Tom have left the company. They are focusing solely on the community aspect of the company, abandoning games. But Cameron feels they still face the same issue they did when they were using Westgroup's network. Cameron comes up with what she believes is the only solution for moving forward. These items combined with Gordon's attitude towards his therapy leads to problems in his marriage, which may be irreparable.
User ratings: 452
Average rating: 8.7
Valley of the Heart's Delight
Donna and Cameron explore their options to expand beyond chat. Gordon settles in at Mutiny. Joe launches his latest product.
User ratings: 353
Average rating: 8.0
One Way or Another
While Cameron and Donna struggle to find venture capital, Joe hires a key coder, leaving the rest of the team at a loss.
User ratings: 327
Average rating: 8.2
Flipping the Switch
The strain of living and working together start to show for Gordon, Donna and Cameron, especially as Gordon believes Donna has only asked him to attend regular executive meetings to make him feel included, demonstrating that the power in his and Donna's overall relationship rests with her. Donna carries the stress of that strain into a business lunch with Diane, while Gordon turns to an old friend to cope. Ryan's departure from the company leaves an obvious hole that needs to be filled. As Cameron's attempt to lure Ryan back doesn't work, she is tasked with looking for a new coder from among the students in a college computer class to which she will be giving a guest lecture. Cameron finds someone unexpected there. Ryan is feeling at a loss working for evasive Joe, who wants him to figure out exactly why he hired him without being told. Joe inviting him to a senior executive meeting a week into his employment may or may not answer the questions for Ryan. And Cameron and Donna delegate Bos to provide the offer to purchase Swap Meet, about which Diane quietly seethes feeling that Cameron and Donna themselves should be the ones to handle such an important task. Diane takes measures to ensure her $600,000 is handled properly by Bos, who ends up surprising her.
User ratings: 312
Average rating: 8.1
Rules of Honorable Play
Donna and Cameron have a hard time coming to a mutual agreement on their acquisition. Gordon discovers the importance of teamwork through lasertag.
User ratings: 303
Average rating: 7.8
Yerba Buena
Donna and Gordon decide to treat themselves to vacation at home instead of camping. Bos and Cameron return to Texas. Ryan and Joe have a revelation.
User ratings: 305
Average rating: 8.0
And She Was
Tensions rise over an offer to buy Mutiny. Donna has a weekend alone, while Gordon and Cam bond over video games. Joe has a standoff with the board.
User ratings: 316
Average rating: 8.4
The Threshold
Cameron welcomes her husband Tom to their new home in California. Gordan hears from Macmillan Utilites about his software code, and Cameron may be on the brink of wireless data communications.
User ratings: 385
Average rating: 9.0
You Are Not Safe
It's the latter half of 1986. Donna has been on the road doing the dog and pony show trying to garner interest in Mutiny in preparation for the IPO on December 18th. She is going through a learning curve in what she can or cannot say, and how she addresses the issue of Cameron no longer being with the company, which has to sound both credible and positive. The success or failure of the offering rests solely on Donna's shoulders, with Cameron not being able to take any credit for success, or accept blame if it is a failure. Cameron, who no one has spoken to, has solely been bored housewife to Tom, with the occasional foray onto the computer to code new ideas to keep herself preoccupied. Since he released the security software to the world, Ryan has been on the run, but not before he told Joe what he did. Ryan's action has a direct affect on Joe and Gordon's new company and the NSFNET project, as Joe is under investigation by the FBI, who believes he is probably the person who released the software, if they can only find evidence of such. Joe decides to help himself in helping Ryan if he can only find him, which he thinks he may be able to do with the help from an old and somewhat bored friend. All these issues may be affected and overshadowed by another event that also happens on December 18th.
User ratings: 408
Average rating: 8.9
Donna tries to bring everyone together at Comdex with her vision of the internet's future and Gordon faces a strong-willed Joanie.
User ratings: 356
Average rating: 8.6
Together again, the group debates whether the Internet and the World Wide Web will amount to anything and if they should make it their newest project, assuming they can overcome resentment over their past conflicts.
User ratings: 359
Average rating: 8.8
So It Goes
Gordon enjoys success while Joe works to keep their web project afloat. Cameron extends a business trip. Donna launches a new venture.
User ratings: 358
Average rating: 8.1
Signal to Noise
Joe and Cameron talk on the phone. Donna promotes her assistant. Gordon's business buckles under pressure from a larger competitor.
User ratings: 353
Average rating: 8.4
Cameron promotes her game at an industry conference. Donna squares off against old rivals. Gordon struggles to support Joe's newest idea.
User ratings: 303
Average rating: 8.3
Tonya and Nancy
Cameron thinks owning a piece of land will help her center. Joe and Gordon hire a team to map the web. Donna focuses her team on a new mission.
User ratings: 274
Average rating: 8.0
Nowhere Man
Donna struggles with suspicion. Bosworth hits a breaking point. Joe unburdens to Gordon while Cameron faces past mistakes.
User ratings: 281
Average rating: 8.2
A Connection Is Made
Donna makes a play for a heavy hitter. Gordon confronts his daughter about an issue at school. Cameron finds a new fan. Joe sees a new side of Haley.
User ratings: 289
Average rating: 8.3
Who Needs a Guy
Joe and Gordon discuss Comet's future. Donna takes a vacation. A new collaborator challenges Cameron. Bos and Diane make a life-altering choice.
User ratings: 679
Average rating: 9.5
Cameron helps Donna pack up. Bos makes his famous chili. Joe helps Haley recover a memorable keep sake. Gordon and Donna fight.
User ratings: 496
Average rating: 9.0
Donna celebrates a milestone with her closest allies; Cameron contemplates saying goodbye; Joe confronts an uncertain future.
User ratings: 309
Average rating: 8.6
Ten of Swords
In light of what happened with Netscape, Joe makes a decision about Comet's future. He turns to an unexpected source for guidance about what to do in light of Comet and in light of what happened between him and Cameron. Donna is basking in what has been a revitalized and renamed company largely on her doing. She gets an even more promising sign about her life when she receives a telephone call from Joanie, who needs to relate an experience on her travels through Thailand. Haley takes a turn in her life, that action which may say more to her mother than any other action of late. And in light of what happens in her relationships with Joe and Alexa, Cameron needs to make the rounds to all her friends before moving onto the next imminent phase of her life. That last stop is at Donna's, which coincides with Donna preparing to host a lavish women in technology social gathering at her house. What happens with Haley and a speech by Donna may influence what both Cameron and Donna decide to do with that next phase of their lives.
User ratings: 457
Average rating: 9.1
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