7 October 2021 sees the start of the Netflix miniseries “The Billion Dollar Code”. Made up of four episodes, it was written by Oliver Ziegenbalg and directed by Robert Thalheim.
As mentioned in the opening credits, the series is based on a “true story” that is in fact a key part of ART+COM history: it deals with the development of TerraVision in the mid-nineties and the subsequent legal battle with Google over a software patent.
In 1994, commissioned by Berkom (a research project set up by today’s Deutsche Telekom), adventurous ART+COM designers were able to present a unique idea: TerraVision. The collaboration between Berkom and ART+COM computer buffs and designers created the world’s first entirely virtual, three-dimensional representation of the Earth. Based on satellite images and geographical 3D data, it allowed you to navigate seamlessly right down into buildings – years before Google Earth arrived on the market.
“The Billion Dollar Code” covers two decades and sets the scene using fascinating imagery. Its gripping and emotional story takes you back to the days when hardly anyone worked with computers, never mind virtual worlds. Back then, you needed a pioneering spirit to develop something radically new.
The series is not a documentary, it is more a feature film. The main characters are loosely based on the real persons, but do not imitate the actual individuals. The makers have also left out details for cinematic and dramaturgical reasons. Furthermore, certain elements have been simplified to make the complex field of software “invention” accessible to regular audiences. The key points in the software development and the legal proceedings have, however, been kept close to the actual events. “The Billion Dollar Code” finishes by paying tribute to the pioneering work of the TerraVision inventors.
Even though ART+COM was not involved in the production, we are pleased to see this story addressed in a well-made film. It shines a light on one central aspect of our identity as media designers, media artists and developers.
Today, ART+COM still works for international clients from industry, culture and research. We have held on to our pioneering spirit and drive to research. We have created numerous new formats and made inventions in the areas of ART, COMMUNICATION and RESEARCH. ART+COM continues to deepen its own research activities. The basis for these innovations is almost always the same: intrepid clients from industry and culture, who are looking to push boundaries, and to create something new and groundbreaking together with us.
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