The Bit Player

The Bit Player

Sloan Foundation Film

Release Date



  • Mark Levinson


  • John Hutton
  • Judith Ivey
  • Kaliswa Brewster


  • 2019 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Grant

A film about Claude Shannon, father of information theory: a playful genius whose name is largely unknown though his work revolutionized nearly every aspect of modern life.

In a blockbuster paper in 1948, Claude Shannon introduced the notion of a "bit" and laid the foundation for the information age. His ideas ripple through nearly every aspect of modern life, influencing such diverse fields as communication, computing, cryptography, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, cosmology, linguistics, and genetics. But when interviewed in the 1980s, Shannon was more interested in showing off the gadgets he’d constructed — juggling robots, a Rubik’s Cube solving machine, a wearable computer to win at roulette, a unicycle without pedals, a flame-throwing trumpet — than rehashing the past. Mixing contemporary interviews, archival film, animation and dialogue drawn from interviews conducted with Shannon himself, THE BIT PLAYER tells the story of an overlooked genius who revolutionized the world, but never lost his childlike curiosity.

Possible Topics

  • Creativity and play in science
  • Transmitting information

Past Programs


The legacy of Claude Shannon

Cameo Cinema, St Helena, CA


Today's tech scientists on Claude Shannon

Enzian Theater, Maitland, FL

Following the father of information theory

Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor, MI


A practical demo of Claude Shannon's theory

Martha's Vineyard Film Society, Tisbury, MA