For those that haven't watched the Netflix series before, it typically tells dark fables and offers searing social commentary as it relates to current and future tech. It's a modern day Twilight Zone (for mature audiences) centered around that "black mirror" in your pocket, in your hand and always in your face.
This latest episode took a step backward to the early 1980s and Choose Your Own Adventure gaming. Yet it simultaneously took a scary leap forward by introducing a very innovative audience participation gimmick where we - the people watching the show - are given the impression that we can choose the direction the show takes in real time. We the audience are offered binary either/or choices as to how the story should unfold!
However, this post isn't about the show itself as that has to be experienced to be appreciated. But it is about some of the gorgeous retro computers featured in the episode.
The machine used by the main character is actually the British microcomputer the ZX Spectrum (it looked so painful to program on). But the Commodore 64 is featured heavily as well, and is often referred to as the preferred, premiere machine. When the main character is talking to another programmer - a hot shot game designer - he gushes in fanboy awe that he's played every game the guy has ever made, except... Later in the episode we see a British TV show that reviews games from the day. And on a table in the background, we get another peek of the venerable breadbin. At another point we're in the house of the accomplished and famous programmer (not the main character) and on his table we see a bizarre bit of kit. I can see this being highly admired by the makers of the show - a bit odd to see it on this punk rocker's desk. But I'm not complaining! Finally, this is more for the folks that have already seen the show. I noticed a name in the credits that nearly made my eyes pop out and I had to check if I had been seeing things. Nope - I was right: Jeff Minter (a.k.a. "Yak" of Llamasoft) is credited in the show! He's the guy on the cover of a biography which is all about a programmer who has completely gone insane and done some grisly things as a result. Minter hilariously yet briefly changed his Twitter name to Jerome F. Davies and posted to his 13,000 followers recently:
Pretty cool stuff! I realize this post is pretty cryptic, but I don't want to give anything away. The show is a ton of fun to watch and scarily innovative if others pick up the baton it has created from an interactive standpoint. If you have a Netflix account, don't miss out! (Note: it does have some graphic scenes.)“In case anyone's missed it, do be sure and watch the new Black Mirror tomorrow. There may even be a slight whiff of ox about it.”