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Silicon CowboysSilicon Cowboys (2016)

Director: Jason Cohen

Stars: Jason Cohen, Steven Leckart

Genre: Documentary

IMDB Rating: 5.0

Release: 11 March 2016 (Usa)

Silicon Cowboys:- Watch Silicon Cowboys on,ech geeks, entrepreneurial wannabes and anyone fond of David-vs.-Goliath dust-ups likely will enjoy interfacing with “Silicon Cowboys,” a slick and streamlined documentary about the ambitious Houston mavericks who challenged the supremacy of then-dominant IBM in the 1980s with their revolutionary concept for a portable computer. Despite some random traces of melancholy — especially in the film’s final minutes — the overall tone is unabashedly celebratory as director Jason Cohen charts the improbable success of Rod Canion, Jim Harris and Bill Murto, co-founders of the Compaq Computer Corp., the little company that could and did significantly affect the progress of digital technology during a key transitional period. FilmRise plans a fall theatrical release for this briskly paced feature — which had its world premiere in Texas, appropriately enough, at the SXSW Film Festival —but home-screen platforms appear to be its natural habitat.By turns amusing and illuminating, and quite often both simultaneously, “Silicon Cowboys” benefits greatly from having ample eyewitness testimony from those who were witnesses at creation. Canion, Harris and Murto come across as appealingly modest yet blunt-spoken average Joes while recalling their salad days at Texas Instruments, the tech giant where they were well-compensated employees — but just restless enough to strike out with their own startup. After considering, albeit not very seriously, joint ownership of a Tex-Mex restaurant, the three men set out in 1981 to design, manufacture and sell an innovative portable personal computer capable of operating IBM desktop PC software.At the time, of course, “portable” was a relative term in the PC world. Much like the already-in-production Osborne model, the first Compaq was more precisely a “luggable” device roughly the size of a sewing machine, with two floppy-disc drives and a built-in monochrome monitor smaller than most modern-day iPads. But unlike the Osborne — aptly dismissed by one of the Compaq founders as “extremely ugly” — the debut product of the Houston start-up actually could run the IBM software, thanks to some canny (and legally questionable) reverse-engineering and a great deal of trial and error on the part of Canion, Harris, Murto. (Film historians and movie buffs may find it amusing to compare how the Compaq guys “borrowed” from IBM to the Lumiere Brothers’ reconstitution of Edison’s kinetograph as their own cinematograph.)

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