18 June 2014 | paulam-726-694365
Entertaining Brit-Centric Fantasy
Micro Men is an interesting look at this early British microcomputer industry, but the viewer must always keep in mind that these events occurred in Britain's isolated, self-important microcosm, and had virtually no relevance to the real microcomputer industry as a whole. As with all British-produced programs dealing with computer history, Micro Men is hilariously Brit-centric, to the point of being fantasy. This self-delusion can even be seen in the IMDb summary for Micro Men, which refers to "Clive Sinclair, British inventor of the pocket calculator". Not only did Sinclair not invent the pocket calculator, but he didn't even invent his *own* pocket calculator, which used an American-made Texas Instruments single-chip calculator, similar to the chips used in many early TI hand-held and desktop calculators. Sinclair literally only invented the box that held the TI chip. This of course will set the tone for Britain's entire microcomputer industry -- inferior repackaging of technology from the United States and claiming it as their own, and then further exacerbating the delusion by making false claims of being 'first', 'best', 'most important', etc. Britain has an extensive history of grotesquely overstating their relevance in the computer industry, which stretches all the way back to World War II, and Micro Men is no exception to this behavior.
After watching Micro Men, you're left with the utterly erroneous impression that Sinclair and Acorn were on the verge of dominating the home computer industry, yet somehow let it slip through their fingers. Of course, the movie never really tells you *what* they did wrong, as that would require a direct confrontation of the fact that they were five years late to the party, and showed up with hardware which was vastly inferior to what was being produced in the United States and other countries. As England slowly escaped the early 1980s economic recession, Sinclair's $99 doorstops became progressively less appealing. Meanwhile, the computer and video game crash in the United States dragged American offerings down into the price range of Acorn's products, stripping Acorn of their only significant advantage.
When Sinclair and Acorn attempted to escape the economically protective confines of Great Britain, they were met with much-deserved scorn and ridicule. Quite simply, neither company ever had a chance of survival in an environment of global competition.