95 Min. | Biography – Drama | June 1999
IMDB Rating: 7.2
Director: Martyn Burke
Staring: Anthony Michael Hall, Noah Wyle, Joey Slotnick
Pirates of Silicon Valley Review: In Pirates of Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs was a college radical, and Bill Gates was a Harvard bum who missed class to play poker. But each had certain friends. Jobs had Steve Wozniack, essentially a techie tinkerer who could invent small gizmos which could defraud the phone company. Gates had Paul Allen who knew something about computers. The Pirates of Silicon Valley chronicles the escapades and misadventures of the young upstarts who created the industry that the old guard couldn’t really see yet alone understand. An industry which now permeates all aspects of modern life. 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 of Pirates of Silicon Valley, he becomes a tragic figure when he is ousted from Apple by the Board of Directors.