Season 1 • Episode 1
Episode Information
Air Date June 1,2014
Written by Christopher Cantwell

Christopher Rogers

Directed by Juan Campanella
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I/O is the first episode of Halt and Catch Fire on the AMC network. It first aired on Sunday, June 1, 2014.

Story Line


Episode details

The story begins with a man named Joe MacMillan speaking in an early 1980s college classroom. He guides a discussion on what computers will be able to do in ten years and asks questions to find out the computer skills and experience of the students in the classroom. A student named Cameron Howe gets his attention as she makes statements about computers that show she knows what she is talking about.  Joe later finds Cameron at an arcade where she hangs out and tries to learn more about her.

Meanwhile, Cardiff Electric employee, Gordon Clark's wife gets him out of jail.  He is living in a wreckless and depressed state because of things that went wrong with his previous computer engineering attempts.  Joe MacMillan gets on at Cardic Electric and makes contact with Gordon Clark.  Joe uses an article that Gordon got published in the past to harness Gordon's desire to make computers do more.

It takes several conversations, but Joe convinces Gordon to reverse engineer an IBM computer.  Gordon explains that most of the parts inside the computer are common but that a specific chip in the computer is the part that IBM actually has copyrighted. This part of the computer is what makes it work successfully.  Joe and Gordon work in Gordon's garage and decipher the computer code for the IBM computer. 

This is actually illegal to do, but Joe anticpated some legal loopholes. The attorney for Cardiff Electric figures out that Cardiff Electric can pursue reverse engineering their own computer system if they meet certain criteria. One of the criteria is they have to keep Joe and Gordon on the project. The other criteria is that they have to hire an outsider who has no prior knowledge of the project.

Joe recruits Cameron Howe to be the outsider who has no prior knowledge of the project. The attorney for Cardiff Electric asks Cameron questions that are necessary to meet the legal requirements. He nods his head "no" to guide Cameron to answer "no" to the questions.

The executives at Cardiff Electric discuss IBM coming in and insist that everyone keep their stories straight. The episode ends with a lot of IBM executives showing up at Cardiff Electric and Gordon asking Joe what he is trying to prove.

New Characters Introduced

The following new characters were introduced with a significant role this week.

  Joe Macmillan played by Lee Pace 10 episodes Season 1
  Gordon Clark played by Scoot Mcnairy 10 episodes Season 1
  Cameron Howe played by Mackenzie Davis 10 episodes Season 1
  Donna Clark played by Kerry Bishé 10 episodes Season 1 
  John Bosworth played by Toby Huss 10 episodes Season 1
  Joanie Clark played by Morgan Hinkleman 7 episodes Season 1
  Haley Clark played by Alana Cavanaugh 7 episodes Season 1
  Cardiff Engineer played by Gregory Hunter 6 episodes Season 1 (Uncredited all except Landfall #6)[citation needed]
  Barry Shields, Esq. played by Mike Pniewski 5 episodes Season 1
  Nathan Cardiff played by Graham Beckel 3 episodes Season 1

Actors of Special note:

Per IMDb:

  Joanie Clark played by Maggie Elizabeth Jones 1 episodes Season 1
  Haley Clark played by Lillian Ellen Jones 1 episodes Season 1

IMDb lists sisters Maggie Elizabeth Jones and Lillian Ellen Jones with credits for 1 episode (I/O) in season one, but ALSO lists Morgan Hinkleman and Alana Cavanaugh (above 7 episodes each beginning with I/O!) as playing the roles of Joanie Clark and Haley Clark.

AMC[1] makes no mention of Maggie and Lillian, listing only Morgan Hinkleman and Alana Cavanaugh for 7 episodes starting with I/O. AMC is the producer, and IMDb data sources and accuracy are defined here[2] . Which is correct?. Please go to The Maggie and Lillian Jones Mystery Page to view or participate In the search for an answer!

Featured Music

Boomtown Rats - “Up All Night” (1981)

Creedance Clearwater Revival - “Lodi” (1969)

XTC - “Complicated Game” (1979)

The Clash - “Magnificent Seven” (1980)

Bonobo - “Cirrus” (2013)

References, Footnotes and Citations

  1. Cast and credits for HACF - I/O episode 1 on
  2. IMDb defines its sources of data, consistency checks, review process and likelihood of error.
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