The early years of what’s currently understood as the video games industry aren’t well understood by the majority of the populace. Sure, folks know Atari, and maybe some names like Shigeru Miyamoto or Nolan Bushnell, but that’s about the long and the short of it. 8 Bit Generation: The Commodore Wars is a documentary that looks to fill in a bit of that knowledge gap.
The documentary comes after a successful Kickstarter campaign in late 2015. There’s been a limited release so far in theaters, and the digital release of 8 Bit Generation: The Commodore Wars is scheduled to hit sometime this winter.
Here’s how the documentary is described on its website:
When Jack Tramiel invented Commodore in the 1970s, he envisioned computing for the masses and not just the upper classes. Spearheading the personal technology revolution and combatting giants like Apple and IBM, Commodore became a household name by changing the way in which we interact, create, and play with computers. From the advent of the groundbreaking Atari and Tetris games to the evolution of contemporary technological design, 8 Bit Generation dives into the home computer explosion and explores Commodore’s key role in shaping the future in which we now live.
Additionally, we at Inverse are excited to premiere both the trailer and poster for the upcoming digital release:
Inverse also spoke briefly via email with filmmakers Tomaso Walliser and Bruno Grampa about the film, their inspiration, and what got left on the cutting room floor.
Why the 8-bit era? What about it spoke to you that you felt compelled to work on this documentary that’s now taken up years of your life?
8-bit 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 revolutions in mankind history. Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, Nolan Bushnell, and Jack Tramiel are each and all a mix of hippy and computer culture in a nerdy fashion. This mix has come to settle in our DNA, resulting in the formation of pop and techno-pop culture, the ones we have today. To go back to the origin of that revolution is enlightening: It is history in its own right.
What is it you hope people take away from the experience of seeing this?
In our documentaries, we are showing people stories: their dreams, ambitions, technical difficulties and feelings. These are extraordinary experiences of ‘normal’ human being that have reached results with their talent and hard work. There is so much to learn and to be inspired by them!
Is there anything you went back and forth on whether to include in the finished documentary? Anything that’s interesting but ultimately didn’t make the cut?
Yes: Jack Tramiel’s story is absolutely wonderful and inspiring. The interview we have with him is really long and it was hard to choose the most important cuts. But at the end, we are really happy of what we have transmitted of his booming voice, lifestyle and philosophy. He has been one of the most important entrepreneurs of the Silicon Valley and he deserves a documentary about his life.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Photos via 8 Bit Generation: The Commodore Wars, Evan-Amos