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Pirates of Silicon Valley
IMDB Rating: 7.3/10 from UNRATED votes
Release: 20 Jun 1999 /

Pirates of Silicon Valley

Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: Martyn Burke,
Stars: , , ,
Synopsis: History of Apple and Microsoft.

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Critic Reviews

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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