Is the portable computer on Halt and Catch Fire TV series based on actual facts from the history of the personal computer?

I have been watching the first episodes of Halt and Catch Fire and although I know some of the history of the PC, I can't figure out if the computer that they are trying to build is going to be something that happened, to some extend, in the history of personal computers. Or is it just a fictional company and a fictional product?

1 Answer 1


Looks like it was inspired by the history of Compaq, that was created by people wanting to build a portable computer compatible with IBM PC.

This article covers it in great detail, below are some quotes:

AMC’s show is fictional, but it turns out, there is a true life story that is similar to this course of events, and it led to the creation of one of the greatest technology companies of all time, Compaq Computers.

Rod Canion, Jim Harris and Bill Murto were mid-level managers at Texas Instruments. Converts to the still nascent personal computer revolution, the trio decided to strike off on their own and form a company to produce a product in an entirely new category of PC: the portable. Portable PC’s were not laptops because the technology did not exist yet to make computers that small and light. Portables were designed to be moved from desk to desk easily, were rugged enough to travel with, and at around 30 pounds or so, had the form factor of a large-ish suitcase.

But all of these machines were only mostly PC-compatible. So, at best, they were DOS compatible. But there was no guarantee that each and every program or peripheral that ran on the IBM-PC could run on a clone. The key innovation that Canion, Harris and Murto planned to bring to market under the name Compaq Computer Corporation would be a no-compromises, 100% IBM-PC compatibility. This way, their portable computer would be able to run every single piece of software developed for the IBM-PC.

  • 1
    It's a fantastic story, I had no idea Compaq started with a portable computer. I listened to the telephone interview in the link provided, and many of the details match with details in the TV series. Really cool!
    – 719016
    Apr 13, 2015 at 18:36

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