The Austin Chronicle

Computer Chess & Sexy Tech

By James Renovitch, December 18, 2012, 12:00pm, Picture in Picture

This one's for the lovers of 70s and 80s tech. By "lovers" we mean hardcore nerds who get slightly aroused by dot-matrix printers and 5¼-inch floppy disks (or 8-inch disks for you insatiable cads). Monofonus Press – the multimedia purveyors of cool stuff – has partnered with director Andrew Bujalski to produce pre-release buzz for his film, Computer Chess.

That buzz takes the form of a website containing short videos of the defining matches in the world of computer chess. It's fitting since Bujalski's film, set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, is set in the world of 80s competitive chess between human players and machines. These early computers were revolutionizing artificial intelligence and went head to head to see who's programming was superior. Monofonus Press has dramatized a handful of these matchups. That's assuming you find a visualization of each player's moves on a chess board "dramatic." The history of the technology and the personalities behind them is fascinating, and it's easy to see why Bujalski chose it as a backdrop for his film and Monofonus decided to get on board.

In addition to the visualized match-ups the website houses the HOPC series. That’s Hot Old Personal Computers for those not accustomed to fetishizing vintage technology. The short videos feature such dated hardware as the Commodore 2001 Series filmed in a way that is equal parts CK One exploitation footage and Lawnmower Man-esque computer graphics. Add cold synthesizer ditties courtesy of Morgan Coy and the end product is an eerie flashback to a time when digital culture was about as niche as it gets.

More games and HOPC flicks are being added as the movie's premiere approaches. Check out the site and travel back to a time when every computer wanted to be Joshua from WarGames.

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