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Pirates of Silicon Valley
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Pirates of Silicon Valley (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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85 out of 91 people found the following review useful:

Two extraordinary individuals help create modern computing

Author: sdlitvin from Lowell, MA
28 September 2004

A flawed but intriguing character study of two of the most extraordinary individuals of our modern technological era.

The movie is historically inaccurate. Nevertheless, it manages to capture the essence of how much of modern computing came to be: the cluelessness of Xerox about what its own computer scientists were doing; Steve Jobs' artistic vision at Apple; and Bill Gates' ruthless business practices at Microsoft. And you will be fascinated by how these men got where they are today.

The movie isn't very kind to either Jobs or Gates, emphasizing their negative qualities. Steve Jobs is presented as a visionary, but also as a slavedriver and someone who refuses to accept that he's the illegitimate father of a young girl.

Gates is portrayed in an even less flattering way--as some kind of outright sociopath who is driven to destroy all those who try to do business with him. Still, as long as you recognize that the portrayals are negatively slanted, you will be rewarded by witnessing the interplay among the famous triangle: Adele Goldberg (not explicitly named in the movie), the leader of Xerox's research team; Steve Jobs, who ripped her off and incorporated those technologies in the new Macintosh; and Bill Gates, who ripped off Jobs and incorporated those technologies in the newer Windows product.

The movie does suffer from several historical inaccuracies. I believe that at least some of those inaccuracies were deliberate--attempts to oversimplify the historical record in order to shorten the length of the movie. For example, the movie makes it appear that Apple's first attempt at a computer with a modern graphical user interface--the Lisa--was a tremendous success, when in fact it was a commercial failure. But portraying it as a success made it simpler to explain why Bill Gates got interested in dealing with Apple at that time.

While the movie is long, it would have been even better as a two-day or three-day miniseries. That would have enabled some of the historical record to be explored at greater depth, eliminating the need for this deliberate vast oversimplification.

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63 out of 81 people found the following review useful:

Originality spews out of this fine film!!!

Author: lepointe23 from here
23 January 2003

I saw this on TV. With all the crap in theatres this movie should of made it in. It was so awesome and original. I don't usually like made for TV films but I loved the nastalgic feel of everything. I also love stories about a bunch of kids that the big shots laughed at and ignored, and made millions. I'm a mac freak but I still think Jobes is a jerk for being so fascist with his employees. Anthony Michael Hall rules as Bill Gates. I was so angry to see stupid run of the mill cancer movies from the Life(Death)time channel win all of the emmys this was up for.

Whoever directed this should be doing features for theatres.

Nuff said.

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43 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Awkward But Fascinating

Author: (andyetris@yahoo.com) from Philadelphia, PA
2 April 2003

This is an engaging historical-fiction look at the development of the famous computer companies Apple and Microsoft. The performances are terrific, but the film suffers from trying to handle several main characters and cover a lot of historical events. It is also unfortunate that there are three main characters all named "Steve."

The story is told from the perspective of Steve Wozniak (Joey Slotnik), who is portrayed as a gentle head and caring foil to Noah Wyle's brilliant but cruel portrayal of Steve Jobs, Wozniak's Apple co-founder. Anthony Michael Hall obviously has a wonderful time playing the weaselly Bill Gates.

The title is a pun referencing both the buccaneering style Jobs celebrated at Apple, and the idea of unethically 'pirating' the computer developments of other engineers. The film's main point is that both Apple and Microsoft gained their key functionality, the image-based screen display of a computer system (GUI) and the 'mouse' pointing device, by 'pirating' the ideas. Apple swipes them from Xerox, then Microsoft swipes them from Apple.

This is a personality study and not a technical review, and while that may make it more accessible the film doesn't make it entirely clear why Jobs provides so much access to Gates and his crew (presumably Gates is supposedly modifying his computer language, BASIC, to work on the Apple?)

I'd have to know a lot more about Wozniak, Jobs, and Gates before judging them from this film, which is especially hard on Jobs. Wyle portrays him as a selfish and arrogant adolescent, exploiting and manipulating friends and subordinates. Altogether the film is worth watching, but bittersweet and possibly slanted.

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34 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Perfect nostalgia

10/10
Author: jammer-11
3 September 2004

I loved this movie thoroughly. Many people may not "get" it properly due to their age, unfamiliarity with the characters, or general indifference to computers and stories involving them. For me, however, a computer enthusiast who was born in 1971, this movie is simply awesome! I was very young in those days but when I watched this movie, it totally brought me back to that time. Although I was young, I remember much of it and it felt right on. I thought this movie was well-written, well-acted, and greatly entertaining. It gave me a thrill to think of being at Apple when it started up. I also loved seeing the machinations that made Bill Gates rich and infamous. Sure they likely distorted facts and embellished things a lot, but such things are needed sometimes to make historical movies entertaining. I recommend this movie to any child of the 70's, especially if you are a computer fan. I gave it a 10!

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34 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Character is Destiny

Author: caspian1978 from Boston, MA
19 February 2004

Even for TNT, this is a great movie. Could have been cut around the edges with scenes like the kid's birthday, Jobs' relationship with his daughter that never connected with his role as the founder of Apple, and Xerox's ignorance in the triumph of both Microsoft and Apple. The entire movie is filled with 'monsters' if you are the anti-businessman. Then again, most of the movie's audience is businessmen or computer freaks. Hall's performance is outstanding. HE makes Bill Gates love-able and hate-able at the same time.

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52 out of 82 people found the following review useful:

Fun movie missed most of the facts

8/10
Author: Mark Tallman (mark.tallman@gostanford.com) from United States
20 May 2005

This movie was fun. It caught the flavor of the two companies, Apple and Microsoft. Unfortunately, it missed many facts that would have enhanced the film further. For instance, IBM initially looked at Microsoft ONLY for programming languages. Digital Research was the preeminent operating system company. However, after Gary Kildall blew off two meetings with IBM, Gates saw an opening and took it. The QDOS MS then purchased and evolved into MS-DOS, was actually pirated code from Digital, specifically the code for CP/M-86. Had Gary Kildall made one call to the FBI and another to his lawyer, Gates would just be getting out of a halfway house about now. I learned most of this from a close friend, Gordon Eubanks. Gordon was Kildall's right-hand and head of his languages division after meeting Kildall at the US Navy Post-Graduate School in Monterey.

Had Kildall made those calls, how different the PC world would look... Microsoft would probably not exist, Digital Research would have licensed CP/M86 to IBM, allowing such things as 16MB of directly addressable memory in the very first PC's, something not available until many years later. We would be GEM based, not Windows based. WordStar, Ashton Tate and Lotus would still probably be the major application suppliers.

How much more ineresting would this movie had been with the facts, which are much better than anything a Hollywood writer could create.

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21 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Apple vs. Microsoft: A Geeks-Eye View!

Author: tam-17 from New York, NY
8 June 1999



I recently saw a rough-cut of TNT Originals' Pirates of Silicon Valley. (It airs in June -- premiere's on Sunday June 20.) It's the story of Steve Jobs (Co-founder of Apple Computers) and Bill Gates (Co-founder of Microsoft) and their competitive rivalry to dominate the computer industry. Sounds boring, right? It's not! It's actually pretty cool! Here's why:

Casting Anthony Michael Hall as the world's biggest geek, Bill Gates, was genius. Hall has done such crap in the past few years that we all forgot what a great character actor he is. His best characters have always been misfits and geeks. In Pirates, he captures everything that's both creepy and sympathetic about Bill Gates. He's totally believable!

Noah Wyle's character as Steve Jobs is right on! Here I always thought Apple was the underdog. Turns out -- Apple had it all over Microsoft until the mid-eighties. Wyle plays Jobs as this power-hungry hippie gone awry. It's a nice change from his do-good doctor on ER. And Wyle makes the jump to full-length film effortlessly. Look for him on the big screen battling aliens any day now.

The story is somewhat standard but filled in with cool details that keep it interesting Jobs as a deadbeat Dad; Gates pitching his product to IBM (the IBM guy actually thinks all the money is in the hardware!), and the late-night screaming matches between Jobs and Gates.

Here's the thing that just boggles my mind -- these two are pretty average guys especially for their generation. Sure, they're two of the most powerful men in the world (Gates is the richest man in the world) but you could totally see either one showing up at your bar-b-que in Khakis and an ill-fitting shirt.

Pirates of Silicon Valley is quite entertaining it's weird, it's funny and quirky-- I say check it out!

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25 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Enjoyable, easy to swallow TV movie

Author: millennia-2 from In shame (2005 update)
9 April 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Unlike most documentaries/dramatizations, which are usually nothing more than a filmed history lesson, 'Pirates of Silicon Valley' achieves something more: you want to keep watching past the first scene.

Both Anthony Michael Hall and Noah Wyle put forth good performances and the plot is intriguing, as if it weren't for these two (not so much Gates, as all he did was steal Jobs' idea, who stole it from Xerox), you wouldn't be reading this online review.

The movie feels much longer than it is (in this case that's a good thing), and by the time it's near the end, I didn't want it to finish, I didn't even expect it to finish, as it skipped out on most of the 90's.

'Pirates of Silicon Valley' easily could have been, and should've been, an NBC like mini-series, as this is one area of history that isn't shown in movies enough (in other words: cut the Shakespeare c**p and make movies about computers)

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18 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

A college dropout and a visionary in his garage change the world.

10/10
Author: Coon51
9 April 2000

This is one of the best made for TV films that I have seen in a while. It is very well made and offers both humor and insight into the internet and computer revolution. It is the story of two men who changed the world. I absolutely love how it contrasts the difference between Gates and Jobs. Jobs was a visionary who got caught up in his own philosophy. Gates, the brilliant and ruthless businessman who built an empire. Oh yeah and if you want to laugh yourself to death just watch the scene where Bill Gates (Anthony Michael Hall) tries to pick up women in the roller rink. This was a story that needed to be told and it was told really well. I don't know where you can find this film, but if you see it in your local video store and want to know how the computer world was set on end by a guy in his garage and a college dropout then rent this movie.

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24 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

It's about time.

10/10
Author: Bigmoose
1 July 1999

It's about time TNT made a good movie. Finally someone has made an enjoyable movie/documentary about the cpu age. The acting is good with Hall actually getting a nerdy part right and Wyle is just creepy. The problem is the bizarre storytelling one minute you're watching something from 1984 then 1997 then you go all the way back to 1974. It gets confusing. They also cut out some great moments in cpu history, but it's still a good movie. ***1/2 of ****

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