8bit Generation is a labor of love, from people who love the 8bit era, for people who are passionate or simply curious about it
8bit is a generation of machines, both computer and videogames, based on 8bit microprocessors starting from the early 70’s all the way to the end of the 80’s, often defined by blocky graphics, few colors, simple sounds and weird case designs
8bit is a generation of young entrepreneurs, engineers, visionaries, dreamers, geniuses who wanted to change their lives and ended up changing the world we live in, giving birth to one of the most important revolution in the history of mankind
8bit is a generation of kids in their teens that came to be exposed to the influence of those wonderfully primitive machines and learned firsthand what a computer is, how it works and how can change your life….and never forgot
In June 2010 we started researching and collecting first hand accounts from the key people of that era. That job was a fascinating adventure and a nightmare process: we nearly went broke a couple of times, but never gave up.
In September of 2014 we attended XOXO Festival in Portland Oregon and show some footage to a large audience to great acclaim: we learned that Jack Tramiel and Commodore are held as crucial in the entire digital revolution. We knew it, but we learned that the audience too is willing to hear THIS story at last.
We resolved to release a single long run episode by the working title of “Growing The 8 Bit Generation”, focused on the home computer explosion and Commodore role in the personal computer revolution. The movie will feature previously unreleased interviews with Jack and Leonard Tramiel, Chuck Peddle, Al Charpentier, Bil Herd, Michael Tomczyk, Dave Rolfe, Richard Garriot, Jeff Minter, Andy Finkel as well as Steve Wozniak, Nigel Searle, John Grant, Nolan Bushnell, Al Alcorn, Joe Decuir among others.
The 8bit Generation library is huge and still capable of more episodes to come in the future, to tell the story of the people who changed our world forever.
Why we are on Kickstarter
We need your help for the post production and distribution.
With this money we are going to pay for editing, mixing, color grading, additional CGI and VFX work and the use of images under third party rights.
Who we interviewed
During the production stage of 8 Bit Generation we met 64 people of whom we shot interviews and various footage. These people, each one in his own way, have been protagonists and witnesses of the digital revolution that was taking place and some of them were directly responsible for bringing computer power to the mass consciusness. Not all of them will be in this first documentary: here's a list of who will surely be in.
In strict alphabetical order…
Allan “Al” Alcorn. Is a pioneering engineer and computer scientist. Alcorn was the designer of the video arcade game Pong, creating it under the direction of Bushnell and Dabney. Pong was a hit in the 1970s. In addition to direct involvement with all the breakout Atari products, such as the Atari 2600, Alcorn was involved at some of the historic meetings of Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs (at that time an Atari employee) presenting their Apple I prototype.
Al Charpentier. MOS Technology head of design, he designed the VIC I and II chips and co designed the SID chip, all key elements to the Commodore success.
David Crane. Is a video game designer and programmer. Crane started his programming career at Atari, making games for the Atari 2600. Crane left Atari in 1979 and co-founded Activision, along with Alan Miller, Jim Levy, Bob Whitehead, and Larry Kaplan. At Activision, he was best known as the designer of Pitfall!. Pitfall! was a huge hit, and maintained the top slot on the Billboard charts for 64 weeks and was named video game of the year in 1982.
Christopher “Chris” Curry. Is the co-founder of Acorn Computers. The Acorn Microcomputer was launched as the first product of Acorn Computers Ltd, founded in March 1979. Curry said that they “chose the word Acorn because they wanted a name that would appear before “Apple” in a directory
Joe Decuir. Was one of the original engineers at Atari, who helped design, build, and produce the Atari 2600. He also wrote the game Video Olympics, a Pong collection that launched with the system. He later went on to help develop the Amiga, and the USB architecture. Joe Decuir has worked in the development of public engineering standards since 1987, including TIA, ITU, ETSI, IEEE 802, USB-IF, Bluetooth SIG and WiMedia Alliance.
Federico Faggin. Is a physicist and electrical engineer, mostly widely known for designing the first commercial microprocessor. He led the 4004 (MCS-4) project and the design group during the first five years of Intel’s microprocessor effort. He was founder and CEO of Zilog, the first company solely dedicated to microprocessors. In 2010 he received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor the United States confers for achievements related to technological progress.
Andy Finkel. Was in charge of the Commodore VIC20 and C64 software library
Richard Garriott de Cayeux. Is a video game developer and entrepreneur. He is also known as his alter egos Lord British in Ultima and General British in Tabula Rasa. A well-known figure in the video game industry, Garriott was originally a game designer and programmer and now engages in various aspects of computer game development and business. On October 12, 2008, Garriott launched aboard Soyuz TMA-13 to the International Space Station.
Rupert Goodwins. UK retro computing journalist and expert
John Grant. Sinclair Research chief computer scientist
Bil Herd. Was a designer of 8-bit home computers while working for Commodore Business Machines in the early-to-mid 1980s. After first acting as the principal engineer on the Commodore Plus/4, C16/116, C264, and C364 machines, Herd designed the significantly more successful Commodore 128, a dual-CPU, triple-OS, compatible successor to the Commodore 64. Prior to the C128, Herd had done the initial architecture of the Commodore LCD computer, which was not released.
Raymond E. Kassar. Was president, and later CEO, of Atari Inc. from 1978 to 1983. He had previously been vice-president of Burlington Industries, a textile company. During the Kassar years, Atari Inc.’s sales grew from $75 million in 1977 to over $2.2 billion just three years later. In December 1982, Kassar had sold 5,000 shares of stock in Warner Communications only 23 minutes before a much lower than expected fourth quarter earnings report would cause Warner stock to drop nearly 40% in value in the following days. In July 1983, Kassar was forced to resign from Atari Inc. over mounting allegations of illegal insider trading activity of which he was later completely acquitted.
Al Lowe. Is a musician and game designer/programmer who developed several adventure games, mostly for Sierra On-Line. He decided to teach himself programming and in 1982 he created three games for the Apple II. Sierra bought these games in 1983 and Al worked for them as a game designer for 16 years. He is best known for his creation of Leisure Suit Larry and the long-running series it spawned.
Jeff ‘Yak’ Minter. Is a video game designer and programmer. He is the founder of software house Llamasoft. There are a number of distinctive elements common to his games. They are often arcade style shoot ‘em ups. They often contain titular and/or in-game references demonstrating his fondness of ruminants (llamas, sheep, camels, etc.). Many of his programs also feature something of a psychedelic element.
Charles Ingerham “Chuck” Peddle. Is an electrical engineer best known as the main designer of the MOS Technology 6502 microprocessor; the KIM-1 SBC; and its successor the Commodore PET personal computer. The 6502, developed in 1976, was used in many commercial products, including the Apple I and II, Commodore VIC-20 and 64, Nintendo NES, Atari 8-bit computers, BBC Micro from Acorn Computers and several coin-op video games of the Golden Age.
John Roach. Former executive at Tandy Corporation responsible for the lunch and success of the TRS 80 microcomputer series
David Rolfe. Is a computer programmer who was instrumental in the development of many “golden age” arcade and home video games. Rolfe worked on Football II, one of the early LED-based handheld electronic games. When Mattel decided to enter the home console market Rolfe programmed the “exec” software —the operating system — for the Intellivision, as well as the system software for the Intellivision Keyboard Component.
Nigel Searle. Was the managing director of Sinclair Research Ltd, and one of the company’s longest-serving employees. In 1977, with Sinclair in financial trouble, Searle left the company. He rejoined in 1979 when Sir Clive Sinclair formed Sinclair Research, successfully promoting the ZX80 and ZX81 personal computers in the US. In spring 1982, he moved to the United Kingdom as Sinclair’s managing director
Michael S. Tomczyk. Is best known for his role in the development and marketing of the Commodore VIC-20, the first microcomputer to sell one million units. In early 1980, Tomczyk joined Commodore as Marketing Strategist and Assistant to the President (Commodore founder Jack Tramiel). When Tramiel announced that he wanted to develop a low cost affordable home computer “for the masses, not the classes,” Tomczyk embraced the concept and aggressively championed the new computer, insisting that it be “user friendly.”
Jack Tramiel. Was a Polish-born American businessman, best known for founding Commodore International, the manufacturer of the Commodore PET, VIC-20, 64, 128, Amiga, and other. The Commodore VIC-20 was the first microcomputer to sell one million units. The Commodore 64 sold several million units. It was during this time period that Tramiel coined the famous phrase, “We need to build computers for the masses, not the classes.”
Leonard Tramiel. Jack Tramiel son and long time business partner and executive at Commodore and Atari.
Stephan Gary “Woz” Wozniak. Is the computer engineer and programmer who founded Apple Computer with Steve Jobs. Wozniak created the Apple I computer and the Apple II computer, which contributed significantly to the microcomputer revolution of that era. In February 1981, Wozniak was injured in a private plane crash. In 1983 he returned to Apple product development, desiring no more of a role than that of an engineer and a motivational factor for the Apple workforce.
Risks and challenges
There is no risk: all interviews and additional footage are already shot.
We just need to pack everything in an awesome documentary!
- (38 days)