107 of 109 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 1999
I watched the movie as it aired on tv, and enjoyed it so much I rented it a number of times when it released. Taking only 90% to be near historical accuracy, it still has captivated me enough to make me pre-order the re-publication of the book "Fire in the Valley" by Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine, on which the movie is based, just to find out what the movie left out. This movie gives such an insight into a true revolution, taking the computers out of the hands of corporate types, and giving them over to the masses. Noah Wyle is Steve Jobs in this movie. His acting brings to life one of the most influential people of the time. Anthony Michael Hall does a superb job of showing Bill Gates as the capitalistic businessman in its trueist form. The only reason I don't give it a 5 star rating is that I feel they spend a little too much time on Steve Jobs' personal drug trip. This was time that could have been better spent explaining what has happened since 1997, when Jobs came back to Apple. Or, they could have led up to the Gates vs. United States trial. All in all a great movie. Rent it, Buy it, show it to your kids. This is current history, and it is relevant to today.
112 of 117 people found the following review helpful
In the first few minutes of the film, we see Steve Jobs pacing the floor on a Boston stage (year 1997--shortly after his return to Apple), and above him is the gigantic image of Bill Gates smiling down (smirking?) at him, while we hear the voice of Steve Wozniac (the Woz) in the background say, "How did we get from there to here?" And there, dear readers, lies the tale of the century.
Kudos for the director, the casting director, and the fine performances from Hall and Wyle. In this film, we see the rise of the personal computer from two of most important players of the era, and along the way, we are shown how deeply power and wealth corrupts. Those of us that lived through this period are well acquainted with the first personal computers. Indeed, many of us have heard enough rumors concerning Steve Jobs' late night tantrums as he walked the halls of his empire, to know that this film depicted both him and Steve Wozniac fairly honestly. As far as the depiction of Bill Gates, there are those that agree and those that disagree. Obviously, artistic license was used on both sides. Steve Wozniac mentioned that he was surprised how accurately the movie portrayed the personalities, but indicated they got many of the dates screwed up (check his web site, he has many interesting comments concerning the movie).
As the title aptly suggests, both Steve and Bill gained their initial fame not just from their own creative genius (although both are considered geniuses), but as much from "borrowing" -- Jobs from Xerox PARC, and Gates from Apple Computer. And while that is the central theme of the movie, it also points out the astonishing short-sightedness of top corporate executives--HP (unfairly in reality) and IBM for not realizing the potential of the personal computer and software for the masses, and Xerox for not understanding what they themselves had developed. One of the best lines comes from an HP exec talking to Steve Wozniac (the creator of the Apple computer)... "Why would the average person ever want a computer?" (I'm paraphrasing here--and I think in reality, it was IBM who had this attitude).
In fairness, back in those days computers were used mainly by scientists, the military, and mathematicians. These things were gigantic and cost a fortune. Still, it makes me think that the trillions of dollars lost by some of these giant corporations sprang from an immense lack of imagination at key positions (I doubt any of those people ever opened a science-fiction novel). To Jobs' credit, he understood immediately what he was shown at the Xerox PARC center, and the rest, as they say, is history.
"Pirates" works on many levels, and it really is a fascinating movie, however, I think it bit off a little more than it could chew. This movie is only 100 minutes long (or thereabouts), yet tries to encompass 25 years of creation, in-fighting, slight-of-hand, and lying, with a blend of madness and out-and-out theft thrown in. It also has a tendency to stray from its theme, trying (and failing) in its depiction of the main characters' personal lives. Yet, inspite of these weaknesses, I throroughly enjoyed this film, and have viewed it several times (each time gaining a little more respect for the director's efforts).
So, whether your computer is the mac or a windows pc, I think most will find this film entertaining and enlightening. Between 1 and 10, I give "Pirates" a very high 7 (it had real potential of being a "don't miss" gem). What I find almost as fascinating is the widespread polarization people still have for one platform over the other--and the war continues with no end in sight....
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2003
This takes you from beginning to present day.
Shows Paul Allen (who now OWNS the Seahawks and Trailblazers pro teams) Bill Gates, Steve Jobs etc. etc. Dropping out of college to pursue a slow burning fire that would become the personal computer/windows software that we know today.
What is interesting is that it shows who talks and who works. Gates lies a lot, pretty much living by the saying "telling people what they want to hear" while Paul Allen grinds away at making code.
On the other end it's the same somewhat, rogue cannon Steve Jobs handling the business part while we get a sense that Steve Wozniak is a true tech who goes above and beyond Jobs' rantings to produce the final product.
What is so funny is the irony of this movie:
Loan Officer: "Sorry Mr. Jobs, but we don't think the ordinary person will have any use for a computer".
HP: "You think people are interested in something called a mouse?".
Xerox: "We build it and then they can come right in here and steal it from us? It's just not fair, this operating system is a result of our hard work!".
Jobs to Gates: "You're STEALING FROM US!!!"
Assistant to Gates: "Do you realize Apple has a pirate flag over their front door, and they just gave us 3 prototypes of their operating system?"
Jobs: "I don't want people to look at it like a monitor and mouse, I think of this as art, a vision, people need to think outside the box".
Jobs: "You stole it from ussss!" Gates: "No it's not stealing, you see, it's like we both have this neighbor, and he leaves his door open all the time. You go over there to get his TV, only I've gotten their first..and now you're calling me the thief?!".
Just some of the excerpts that make this movie a classic and show you everything that went down when a bunch of college dropouts set out and changed the world in which we live today.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2004
Going in I expected little of this movie, as I am very skeptical about the low budget made-for-TV style of film making. Most "based on a true story" movies are trite and nothing more than exploitation. Ripped from the headlines movies using someone's suffering or crime as a ratings getter. Pure crap!
I must say however, that Pirates Of Silicon Valley is brilliant. Every aspect of the movie appeals to me. It's visual style, it's pacing, it's characters, it's humor, and most engrossing, it's history. I knew much of the parallels between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs already and was pleasantly surprised to see much of the facts faithfully reproduced. The parts that were inaccurate were obviously for entertainment value, but they did fit the theme of the story and are forgivable (it is a movie after all).
The film makers were very original for two reasons. First, for focusing on the more interesting moments of computer history. Second for the brutally honest look at the two pivotal character's lives and personalities, they aren't depicted nicely. The movie flows from moment to moment, historical event to historical event, over the course of two decades, following the exploits of the two most influential men of the computer industry. We see thier origins, their beginning ventures in the industry, thier major deals, thier double-crosses and shady conquests, thier flaws, thier bad judgement, and ultimatley thier confrontation.
My favorite moments come from the bonehead mistakes that are made by the corporate types. IBM allowing Microsoft to retain ownership of DOS, Xerox not developing its own inventions (the mouse and the GUI), HP not even wanting ownership of the apple, and the biggest mistake of them all, Steve Jobs trusting Bill Gates.
I absolutely love this movie, and the only negative thing about it is that it doesn't exist in DVD format. I have the VHS but I would pay whatever price TNT asked for a DVD full of extras.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2004
If you're looking for a documentary that accurately explains the beginnings of the personal computer industry, then "The Pirates of Silicon Valley" is not it. You'd be better served watching the excellent 1995 PBS documentary "Triumph of the Nerds" instead.
If however, you're looking for an entertaining movie that gets most of the major details right, then you're in luck. The script is pretty bad (it's obvious that this was a TNT-original, made-for-TV movie), but Noah Wyle and Anthony Michael Hall do such a superb job, each *nailing* their roles of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, respectively, that it's worth watching.
This movie is based on the excellent book "Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer". However, that book was published in 1984, and this movie covers events slightly farther in the future. Many of the details are combined, left out, or sometimes fabricated (a.k.a. "creative license"), and I'm told that some of the additional information not in the book came from the director Martyn Burke himself watching "Triumph of the Nerds" (and having his actors watch it, too, to help them get in character).
Still, I'm a high school computer science teacher, and I have my students watch this every year to give them the big picture before following it up with "Triumph of the Nerds" to accurately place the details.
Overall, this is a decent movie, and the whole cast does a laudable job portraying their characters. The story is an interesting one, and despite the generally poor script and often seemingly needless inaccuracies, "The Pirates of Silicon Valley" is a glimpse behind the scenes at the events and personalities that built the computer industry as we know it today.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2000
Excellent movie, although it takes a little dramatic license with the truth. (For example, the genesis of MS-DOS was quite different in real life. IBM approached Gates to buy BASIC, not an operating system. Gates referred IBM to Gary Kildall's CP/M for an OS; only when Kildall blew them off did Gates buy DOS and license it to IBM). Still, beautiful characterizations by Hall and Wyle, and outstanding performances by John Di Maggio and Joey Slotnick as Ballmer and Woz. A most entertaining vid, if not entirely accurate.
I hope that TNT does a sequel about Andreesen, Barksdale, Clark, and Gates, featuring the rise of Netscape and the war with Microsoft.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2005
I have been so eagerly waiting for 6 months for this title to come on DVD! It was worth the wait. I recall when this television movie came out (I was in college at the time|) I totally missed it and my roommate didn't tape it! I vowed that I will watch it when it comes out on DVD. Surely enough after 6 years this is out. Anyone interested in knowing how Mac vs. Wintel came about. It's for anyone who wants to know more about the roots of both platform giants BG vs. SJ! U Will love simply because it captures history in an entire new light...Noah Rocks in this movie...he did a fantastic job acting as SJ!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2003
This movie is becoming a classic to me. It's funny, querky, dramatic at times. I really like all of the key players who have these sil-ICONS down to a T. Jobs is an ass and Gates is a dork but Wylie and Hall make them an endearing ass and dork. This movie is about a recent historical event that to me is uplifting and inspiring and a good notch in human history, an unfamiliar subject to the usual Hollywood crapfest. Put it to a good mix of tunes from the 60's through 80's and you've got a pretty cool movie. I could watch it hundreds of times and never tire of it.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2001
From the people I've talked to that had seen it, this sounded like a great movie. I finally got my chance to see it just a few days ago.
I wasn't using computers back when this movie starts at Berkeley in the early 70's, but from the time the Apple I was invented until the IBM PC came around, I recall that history pretty well.
This movie does an alright job explaining the starting of Microsoft and Apple. The downside is many interesting facts have been left out. The writers never mentioned why IBM made a personal computer. They did because almost every other computer related company was building computers, and they wanted to cash in on the market. The scene where Gates goes to IBM and offers them DOS was not entirely correct.
What they didn't tell you is that IBM first offered the late Gary Kildahl (the owner of CP/M) to write DOS, and for whatever reason he wasn't interested. Next was Microsoft, and Bill Gates was interested, but he sold IBM something he didn't have. Instead, Gates bought 86-DOS for $50,000 from its author Tim Paterson who worked at Seattle Computer Products way back in 1980. Tim later went to work for Microsoft.
Just think... had Gary been interested, his business would likely be the Microsoft of today.
There are other small differences which the movie either didn't tell the full story, or it wasn't entirely accurate. They failed to mention that Microsoft supplied MS-DOS (they renamed 86-DOS for licensing and ownership) to IBM, but the IBM PC used virtually all Intel components. They failed to mention that a huge chunk of history came from Intel. It was also never mentioned that Apple Motorola for processors, or else their beloved Macintosh would not exist.
They were right on track about Apple stealing the graphic interface from Xerox. It is true that Xerox invented it sometime during the early-mid 70's and the management wasn't interested in this invention. BIG mistake.
Apple is often credited with inventing the GUI. Not true.
I was a little surprised that the movie made no mention about how Microsoft teamed up with IBM back in the 80's and they worked on OS/2. Microsoft spent more time working on Windows and IBM finally finished OS/2 on their own. I truly feel if they had worked together on a single operating system, we would have one today that doesn't crash like Windows and actually worked like an operating system should.
If you are even a little interested in the history of computers and how some of these huge companies started out, you might find this very interesting.
I still remember using Windows 1.0 back in 1986. A lot has changed with it!
So to close, this would make a good time killer and something you give you a little more knowledge about computer history. But please keep in mind, not all of the events are totally accurate, and a lot of critical information was left out. This is by no means the end all authority.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2011
This movie had a huge impact on my life. Before the iPod came out, before I even thought of pursuing Graphic Design, and while I was studying Computer Science, this was the movie that truly educated me in the Computer industry. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates changed the world. You will be missed Steve.