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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Sociopaths, egomaniacs and hippies.

Author: Joe Ekaitis from From Television City in Hollywood!, no, uh, Rialto, California
23 January 1999

And we have THEM to thank for all of this.

Your humble author can't help but wonder how Bob Cringely got the likes of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Paul Allen and others in front of the cameras for an honest look inside the slightly twisted minds that begat the personal computer.

At 3 hours in length, "Triumph of the Nerds" isn't just a PBS miniseries. On home video, it becomes an epic. And why shouldn't it be? The personal computer has an impact on our lives equal to that of the light bulb and the automobile. But in the case of the PC, most of the people responsible for its creation and worldwide influence are still alive. These are flesh and blood humans, not fading historical sketches like Henry Ford and Thomas Edison.

"Triumph of the Nerds" was originally produced as a 20-year retrospective on the personal computer. But the PC will be 25 years old in the year 2000. I can't wait to see Bob Cringely's follow up.

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

That Other 70's Show!

Author: Daniel White from Miami, Florida
2 February 2003

The production of the PBS miniseries "Triumph of the Nerds" as documented by journalist and self professed gossip columnist Robert Cringely is a campy trek through the personal computer revolution. The 3-hour narrative covered many of the notable characters responsible for the PC's development such as the inventive geeks, aspiring college hackers, social radicals, corporate marketeers, and leading up to the inevitable war of wills to bring about global, political, and economic change. The miniseries is as much about the personal computer revolution as it is about the one-upmanship ideology of bringing a better mouse trap to market. Piracy is deemed a good thing by the very players that use corporate legal methods to protect themselves from that very end. By means of reverse engineering, misapplications of patent rights, cleverly worded legal disclosure documents, so called `Virgin' engineers and outright theft of intellectual property; it is a sordid affair indeed. The story reads like a checklist in the PDA of Machiavelli's `The Prince'. It seems that `The Prince' is alive and well in the 21st Century.

I would highly recommend this film to any geek or geek-in-training.

Look also for "The Pirate's of Silicon Valley"

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

The definitive TV documentary of the personal computer....

Author: nycovom1 from California, U.S.A.
23 July 1999

Journalist Robert Cringley's 3-hour saga of the personal computer is a sprawling, gutsy masterpiece that tells it like it is, presenting for viewer approval(or disapproval)the characters, places and anecdotes that are part of the birth, growing pains and refinement of "that damn box", as some folks might call it. It's all there: software, hardware, geeks, nerds, money, power, ambition, hunger, anxiety. Highly recommended viewing, without a doubt.

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Best computer history documentary

Author: PeteRoy from Tel-Aviv, Israel
30 August 2003

This 2 parts documentary tells the history of the PC and how it developed from big limited box to small advance GUI based machine. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Xerox P.A.R.K researchers all speak about the PC. With the excellent host of Bob :)

Very well made. A must see if you love computers.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

From Back of the Garage to the Forefront of Technology

Author: ebiros2 from United States
28 January 2006

This is a story of few very talented people working from their garage launching a mega billion dollar empire. The grass roots development of personal computers in the '70s and '80s are captured in this excellent program. From the development of Altair 8800, Apple II, and launching of Microsoft to the IBM PC, bringing about the change we know today as computer revolution, this program details the early history of personal computer development from an insider's view. All major historical events concerning the early computer revolution is treated fairly and in an unbiased way making this an excellent documentary on history of personal computer development, but it is also presented in a entertaining way that even an average couch potato can enjoy. The major players are all there and there are many good personal interviews which brings insights as to how the event really took place. A priceless piece of computer history in a three hour program.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

One Of Best Technical Documentaries Ever Made

Author: Desertman84 from United States
20 September 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires is a documentary film written and hosted by Robert X. Cringely.From his own Silicon Valley garage, author Bob Cringley puts PC big shots and nerds on the spot, and tells their incredible true stories. Like the industry itself, the series is informative, funny and brash. Some of the episode participants include: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

This is a terrific three-part video history of the computer industry. More than a pedestrian history of the industry, this compelling program contains animated segments, promotional clips, archival footage, and intriguingly honest interview with wealthy industry nerds. With computers such a pervasive presence in society, this fascinating set holds wide appeal even for computer illiterates.

It is definitely one of the best technical documentaries ever made.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Excellent Documentary

Author: Preetam Rai (rps@np.edu.sg) from Singapore
7 January 2001

Cringly does an excellent job of keeping one interested with humorous anecdotes and trivia. It must have been quite a task getting these innovators on camera. Cringly should come up with an update. It will be interesting to see his take on Netscape, Napster and scam IPOs.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

It's time to peek through the Windows and eat the Apple. Indeed, this movie is full of knowledge worth checking out.

Author: ironhorse_iv from United States
26 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires is an interesting documentary. The title, Triumph of the Nerds, is a play on the 1984 comedy, Revenge of the Nerds. While this three part documentary is a great insight look at the history of computers, from its rise in the 1970s to the beginning of the Dot-com boom of the late 1990s. This documentary movie is so dated. 3com? Compaq? Locus? Wow, there are a lot of now defunct companies being feature in this movie. It's also weird to see how Apple company, in such decline when this movie was filmed. It's weird, seeing Steve Jobs introduce as the CEO of NeXT and Pixar than Apple. It's also weird to think that the Oracle-company were once thought as a threat to Microsoft! It's also weird to see that the Internet business is just about to start. So, no Googles, Facebook or other internet companies mention here. This three-part film first premiered on PBS in June 1996 and continue in three, 3 hour narrative miniseries episodes included: Impressing their Friends, Riding the Bear, and Great Artists Steal. All narrating by self-professed gossip columnist, Robert X. Cringely AKA Mark Stephens who wrote the novel, 'The Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires' in which the film is based on. Robert Cringely is alright host, but indeed very offended in his terms of words to describe this industry. I know that Robert Cringely is indeed a pen name pseudonym character that Mark Stephen create for his computer "gossip" column, but did this movie really need an over the top narrator. It's like having a fictional character like Toby Radloff from 2003's American Splendor do a serious real life comic book documentary. It doesn't match up. I know, the character morph from a private eye type to a slick, womanizing tech insider, but gees… it's not that popular. He sounds like he's a bitter old man, most of the time, than a real journalist. He wasn't even funny. There was a lot of not needed bitching in this movie from him. I just couldn't take the movie seriously when he complaining about his life, and how much, he's envy with some of these multi-billionaires with their outrageous lifestyles. While, yes, he sings about the successful tales of these businessmen, but he also degrade and beget them with negative stereotypes. How, he ever got interviews with Steve Jobs, Paul Allen, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak and others is a big mystery with all his sexist and crude remarks, he commands. He remind me of a self-hating leach of the computer industry. He's attitude isn't bad. It's in beta. He's just not-user friendly. He loves using the whole 'nerd' to describe them. The whole cartoony stereotype of a nerd intro being play in each episode beginning was just not needed. After all, this so-called nerds are making billions of dollars, today. If anybody is a nerd, it's Mark Stephen for lying that he got a Ph.D. and making hoaxes about his life. He's just not the man for this documentary. Part One: 'impressing their friends' focus on mostly the rise of personal computers with details about Altair 8800, Apple II, and VisiCalc. Part Two: 'Riding the Bear', mostly focus on the rise of Microsoft and IBM partnership. Then there was the oddly place mention of Compaq's cheap scheme to steal IBMs thunder, by reverse engineering. In my opinion, it's piracy in any legal term. I also love the mention of the creators of the Spreadsheets who misapplications of patent rights cause them, millions of dollars. While, both Compaq and the Spreadsheets sequence were interesting. It didn't really match the feel of the rest of the episode. Part Three: Great Artists Steal feels like most of it, should had been mention on Part Two with the whole Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows introduction and Compaq & Spreadsheets sequence on part 2, should be mention on this episode. After all, this episode is call 'Great Artist Steal". All three parts had some great information that made the movie worthwhile. The movie had some odd generic music playing the background, that make some scenes sound like a porno or a heavy metal concert. While, others felt like it dealt into the Lifestyles of Rich and Famous way too much. The interviews were great. The original interview that Jobs gave to Cringely for Triumph of the Nerds lasted about 70 minutes. Of those 70 minutes, only about 10 were used in the film. When Steve Jobs died in 2011, Triumph of the Nerds director Paul Sen searched for and found in his garage a discarded VHS copy of the original raw and unedited interview. He release the other footage as an independent film in 2012. It's worth checking out. Sadly, for this movie, Triumph of the Nerds doesn't have that as an extra special feature, so you might have to shell more money to see that part. Since the series was released in VHS format soon after airing; it might be hard for certain people to see through 3 hours of footage. The documentary was easy to get through, even in one seating, for me, but I would watch it, in three parts. The 2002 DVD by Ambrose Video, cut a few segments from the original program to make it, easier to watch for the audience. So, if you find yourself, wanting to watch, and unedited version. You might be out of luck, as it's hard to find. Overall: It's worth the watch. I wouldn't say, it's the best computer documentary out there. There are better films out there that has information that more present day. But if you're looking for a movie that show the times, how life was before Apple INC big comeback, the dot-com bust, and Microsoft monopoly into other media industries. Then this is your movie.

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Great series with all the big names from the industry

Author: Miekje from Netherlands
28 September 2017

I found these clips on YouTube, it's a 3-part documentary about the rise of computers/internet from about 1976 to 1996. Definitely worth seeing if you're from this era and still want to know more about it. All the great names pass by, like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc... The documentary is made by Robert Cringely, a sort of "insider" to the whole booming of silicon valley. He deliver's a lot of accurate information, in my opinion, with a bit of humor here and there. So it's also fun to watch as well. And seeing as computers and the internet are the best things to come along since sliced bread, this is a MUST SEE! ;-)

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Very informative

Author: xander
18 April 2017

First of all, this doc is from 1996. That being said: it chronicles the rise of the personal computer/home computer beginning in the 1970s with the Altair 8800, Apple II and VisiCalc. It continues through the IBM PC and Apple Macintosh revolution through the 1980s and the mid 1990s at the beginning of the Dot-com boom. The film ends before it all crashes in the late 1999s. But what the heck.

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