Programmer Terry A. Davis spent ten years developing his own unique operating system. Eventually dubbed TempleOS, the system was limited in its presentation and capabilities, but its intended purpose was loftier than most. It was designed as a representation of the third temple as prophesied in the Bible. Following a series of public eccentricities and outbursts, concern over Davis' mental state soon began to overshadow his own creation. The feature-length documentary TempleOS examines the origins of the operating system, the life of its enigmatic creator, and his untimely and tragic end.
Davis was an innovative programmer who championed his enjoyment of the process. But his frequent posts across various message boards exposed a much darker side. He often plagued his critics and online atheist communities with combative and insulting rhetoric. As detailed in the film, these posts became increasingly incoherent. Initially, many users might have believed his behavior was a hoax. It soon became apparent, however, that Davis was suffering from some form of mental illness, and his disintegration was occurring out of the open for all to see.
The film reveals many of these perplexing posts, which dramatize the ongoing battles he waged with users of his system. The increasingly manic nature of his rants is disturbing. Davis was clearly a talent, but his mental state kept him from achieving the career and influence he might have otherwise enjoyed.
Much of the information centered on the programming side of Davis' story is dense with language that might confuse audiences who aren't tech savvy. But underneath the weight of this jargon, a personal portrait of Davis emerges. His growing instability is reflected in his work, and in the videos he would post of his daily life and concerns. As the public consciousness of Davis grew, so did concerns over his health and safety.
Schizophrenic, homeless and unemployed, Davis' freefall came to a dreadful end in March of 2018 when he perished in a train accident.
TempleOS is a deeper experience than it might seem on the surface. By detailing Davis' spiraling descent into madness, it also manages to raise questions about the platform of online interaction, how it might exacerbate an already fragile mentality, and the user's responsibility in averting potential disaster.