The Billion Dollar Code is a Netflix miniseries that follows two co-founder’s artist Carsten Schlüter and hacker Juri Müller in 1990s Berlin. The two start ART+COM with the funding of Deutsche Telekom with the goal to combine digital art, geography, web navigation, and programming.
Using money received from their Telekom backer they purchase office space and an Onyx Computer developed by Silicon Graphics. Carsten and Juri knew they would need a talented group of programmers and hackers to pull this large task off in under a year and recruit members of the Chaos Computer Club in Germany to come work for them.
Terravision is the result of all their efforts which is then shown to a friend who gets hired by Google and many believe gives the source code to Google to start Google Earth. Which kicks off a huge 100-million-dollar lawsuit in 2014.
The series was very well done and with only four one-hour episodes which to me feels like it was just enough to highlight this company’s history. The plot follows two interconnected timelines. The first revolves around the 2014 patent infringement dispute against Google, alleging that TerraVision was used to develop Google Earth. The first three episodes revolve around the founder’s prep for court, they use this as a way to flashback and show how the company unfolds leading to a court case which is timeline number two for most of the series.
I am the first one to say when watching a movie, I hate flashbacks but this was done in a way that was very easy to follow and really help tell the story of the company and how it related to the trial that was going on and tied everything together nicely. The series even manages to pull in the history of the lawyers and how they got tied up in the lawsuit.
The Billion Dollar Code was a great series the only few nitpicks I have is the series was filmed in another country so all the audio is converted into English while you watch you can see the mouths are not lined up with the words. I am ok with this at least it was not dubbed in English it was too much dialog to read for four hours I am very happy no one had that idea. The other issue I have is the show really covers the technology at a higher level at times and while not an issue for me with a background in computer science my wife quickly lost interest as well as other members of my family. I could see this being a really limited audience for this mini-series but it was great if you understand tech I would recommend The Billion Dollar Code to any tech person to watch.