Pirates of Silicon Valley
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The revolution came when we weren't looking. It happened in a garage. In a dorm room. In countless hours of effort, imagining and intrigue. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates were changing the way the world works, lives and communicates. The event-packed saga of the quirky visionaries who jump-started the future unfolds with exhilarating, cutting-edge style in Pirates of Silicon Valley. Noah Wyle (ER) portrays Jobs and Anthony Michael Hall (The Dead Zone) portrays Gates in this chronicle of the fierce and often humorous battle to rule the fledgling personal computer empire. "The story is almost Shakespearean... it's a tale of lust, greed, ambition, love and hate," writer/director Martyn Burke reflects. And it's a success story unlike any other.
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These crazy young inexperienced radicals who began their careers in garages and motels would mold what would become the entire PC market. Jobs and Woz founded Apple and created the first personal computer, the Apple I and Apple II. Gates created Microsoft and licensed an operating for IBM which would become MS-DOS, bought from a small fledging software company in Seattle for $50,000, although Wikipedia's article on the subject states it was $75,000.
Then Jobs and his colleagues are brought to the Xerox development center where technicians were creating a computer with graphical interface. The Xerox executives had been given a demonstration of their new technology, but the old-school executives couldn't understand its potential as benefiting their company. Ultimately, they reject the new innovations. Jobs is given full demonstrations of the computers and understands the potential behind the new technology. He then begins the creation of the Macintosh (MAC). Eventually, a rift occurs within Apple between those who worked on Apple II and those working on the MAC. At the same time, Bill Gates creates Windows to utilize the graphical interface being used by Jobs which was originally invented by Xerox technicians. Which then incites the war between Apple and Microsoft.
An excellent portrayal of the strange and often unbelievable circumstances surrounding the creation and eventual marketing of personal computers. Anthony Michael Hall is perfectly cast as Bill Gates, and Joey Slotnick does well as Steve Wozniack. However, Noah Wyle steals the show as Steve Jobs. Wyle captures the subtlety of Jobs as the driven genius whose faith in his own vision often eclipses common sense in terms of personal relationships. Jobs was no question one of the great visionaries of the 20th century, but he did not understand how to motivate and empower those around him. In the end, he becomes a tragic figure when he is ousted from Apple by the Board of Directors.
The film is an entertaining look at the growth of the PC industry and how personal rivalries and competition between Apple and Microsoft helped shaped the entire world. The lives of Jobs and Gates are also examined. Both characters are human and are also deeply flawed. Jobs is depicted as being a kind of bully at Apple demanding high quality work and long hours while Gates struggles to search for supremacy. As we all know, he would end up as one of the wealthiest men on the planet. Both Jobs and Gates are shown as very shrewd businessmen and also the geeks that they were. In one amusing scene, Gates and Jobs argue about who stole GUI technology from Xerox first.
Although the film does at times show its made-for-TV quality, this is more than made up for in a very strong script that is both entertaining and yet does not stray very far from the reality.
In 97 minutes, this film is a good way to understand the early history of personal computing and the behind-the-scenes events and people that made it possible.