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SXSW: Compaq Documentary ‘Silicon Cowboys’ Bought by FilmRise

FilmRise has acquired worldwide distribution rights for the SXSW documentary “Silicon Cowboys” and plans for a fall theatrical release.

The film, directed by Jason Cohen and produced by Ross Dinerstein and Glen Zipper, chronicles the story of Compaq Computer’s founding and the explosive rise of the 1980s PC industry. Compaq was launched in 1982 by three friends in a Houston diner with the aim of building a portable PC to rival IBM, then the world’s most powerful tech company.

Compaq was the first company to legally reverse engineer the IBM Personal Computer and became the largest supplier of PC systems during the 1990s. It was purchased by Hewlett Packard in 2002 for $25 billion. HP discontinued used of the Compaq name several years ago.

“Silicon Cowboys” traces the rise, and eventual demise, of the unlikely startup. The film had its world premiere at SXSW.

“The story of Compaq Computer is a part of history that affects us all today, but most of us just don’t know it,” said Cohen. “In fact, if it weren’t for Compaq, you probably wouldn’t be reading this quote on your iPhone/iPad right now. The risks taken and the critical decisions made by these outsiders shook the technology industry to its foundations.”

The film is written by Cohen and Steven Leckart, co-produced by Lydia Dunham and Leckart, and exec produced by Samantha Housman and Cohen.

The deal was negotiated by Danny Fisher and Max Einhorn at FilmRise, along with Adam Galen and Zac Bright of Preferred Content on behalf of the filmmakers. Content Media will handle international sales for the film.

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