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Television Media

Pirates of Silicon Valley 346

Several of you have written in to mention the Pirates of Silicon Valley movie that TNT aired last night and we've mentioned here in the past. Its the story of Jobs and Gates, but made-for-TV. Click the link below to read my brief review of the film, and to have a chance to give your opinion on it.
So I've never seen the PBS series 'Triumph of the Nerds' all the way through (although if anyone can get me tapes, I'd be uber happy). I've seen the last half of it like 3 times, but I always seem to miss the first episode. But its apparent that the story told there is absolutely fascinating. My original involvement was through PC Magazine and the likes- somehow I acquired a crate containing like 1983-1986 of all the trade rags, and I read every one of them cover to cover. But they don't tell the real story. TotN did a good job showing the people behind it.

Pirates of Silicon Valley had a different goal. It was supposed to be entertainment and not a documentary. Parts of the movie were somewhat interesting. And it was kinda cool watching people act out what I'd read about and seen people talk about. It added a certain amount of realism watching a women try to prevent Jobs from getting in at Xerox. It was pretty cool having the whole story narrated by Woz's charachter.

They played some of the more standard predictable elements of the story up big time (Jobs and his family life is an overdone theme throughout, as is Gates screwed up lovelife- neither of these things would have been important on PBS, but the director thought they were important here).

Anyway, they don't talk about anything technical. And it makes ommissions and plays with timelines a bit to make things more entertaining. And its not a great movie, but it ain't bad for a made-for-TV production starring a washed up brat pack kid and an ER star. I'd suggest seeing it, but if you're interested in the story, watch Triumph of the Nerds.

Don't take my word for it, I know many of you tuned in. What did you think?

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Pirates of Silicon Valley

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    How you people try to defend Jobs (the underdog) and attack Gates. Steve Jobs is a dickhead,
    Gates is just a shred businessman -- who has
    given over $3billion in real money top charity
    (not MS software this time), I might add.

    Besides all these, you people keep focusing on how much Gates stole technology, but the fact of the matter is, no one in this world completely invents anything anymore. You stand upon the shoulders of the knowledge produced by those who came before you. You could say that Linus *STOLE* Unix from Minux or AT&T. The vast
    majority of open-source software is simply cloned
    from commercial apps. Whether or not Gates
    wrote any code is moot, it's not illegal
    to hire or buy software, and then resell it
    and get rich. Do the CEOs of Redhat write any
    software? No, but they sure have made a lot of $$$ off the backs of GPL programmers.

    Everyone here seems to think that Gates lied, cheated, and stole his billions -- of course, no one could ever get rich honestly right?

    The fact of the matter is, Gates is smart. There
    have been industry giants before, from the mainframe era, the minicomputer era, the non-networked PC era. All of them got washed away by a sea change in the industry. Except Microsoft, which has fought every revolution and won. They
    must be doing something right.

    There are a lot of whining losers on this board, people who don't have the business savy, marketing savy, or ability to sell themselves or their software. As a result, someone will else will take their ideas and get rich on it.

    You can say you don't care about money, or who's successful, and that all you want to do is have fun coding, but if that was the case, you wouldn't give a damn about Microsoft at all and you wouldn't complain so much.

    I relish the day when the Linux hype gets crushed, and Microsoft pulls yet another coup. Then Linux will be reduced to the level of Mac zealotry with a bunch of people still holding onto an inferior platform.

    Bill Gates Jr.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Woz is, interestingly, the only truly admirable person there. And from what I've heard, that's really true... very decent guy, very different from the usual sleaze (Jobs, Gates, Ballmer)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Perhaps the most perplexing part of the movie was that TNT played it at least three times in a row that I noticed.

    It was fun to watch, although the only educational value was the fact that they stole it all from Xerox. Maybe the next time I take a comp-sci class I won't have such a hard time convincing the instructor that Apple didn't invent the GUI.

    Seriously though it really made me want to dig around and find my old Xerox computers (Altair, is that right?).

    In some of the scenes with both Apple and Microsoft it was realy hard to tell whether the commentary was coming from Balmer or Wozniak.

    Too bad the show didn't really have any substance beyond two hours of whiny bickering brats. It's more frightening to think that these two are on top of the computer world for many people. Talk about role models.

    Too damn early. need coffee.

  • (badly paraphrasing)

    (Jobs) "We're better than you, we've got a better product."
    (Gates) "You just don't get it, do you, Jobs!? ... THAT DOSEN'T MATTER!"

    Now that's comedy.
    ----------------- ------------ ---- --- - - - -
  • This movie showed one scene with Woz helping some little kids. From what I remember of the PBS shows, that's what he does now; no megalomaniac-type personality set on world domination like Gates/Jobs. He made plenty of money, got out, and now does something meaningful, helping schools get computers or something like that.
  • This *may* have been a CP/M [] prompt.. I'm not sure if CP/M supported directories, though..

    RIP, Gary Kildall [], 1942-1994.

  • I thought it was pretty accurate. Sure, there were some technical errors (the one I noticed was using a mid-80s Apple II screen at an early demo of the computer). However, the personalities were mostly accurate. They accurately portrayed Wozniak as the real brains behind Apple, and the one that came up with the Apple I and Apple II. They also correctly portrayed Jobs as the guy that made Apple lose its great market position by insisting on killing the Apple II line (leading to the resignation of Wozniak), in favor of the Lisa, Apple ///, and Macintosh (of which only the Mac has done decently).

    It also did a good job showing Gates as always being two steps behind everything.
  • Posted by grphxguru:

    They did portray Jobs as real Prick...wonder if he watched it? Hall did great with Gates, would've liked to see it more technical...but ...PBS...anyway...I enjoyed it. Made HP look moronic.
  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love:

    If memory serves, the late show was an HBO original picture. It was made for HBO and then later aired on network TV. On HBO it was better.

  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love:

    In the fall of 1997 M$ purchased 150 million dollars worth of non-voting apple stock. They also gave apple an "undisclosed sum" of money to make their legal problems with Apple go away.

    Remember the scene in the movie where Jobs announces that the era of competition between Apple and MS is over? The part where Gates is on the big screen behind Jobs? That was when they made the announcement about the new partnership. This is also the deal that got MS office 98 for mac released before any new version for windows.

  • Posted by punkmutha:

    After watching "Triumph of the Nerds", I felt like , "Wow... I want to run out and make millions creating the next killer app or platform and take over the world!" I was psyched...

    "Pirates..." gave me a slightly different take. I know some of it was Hollywoodized, but the shred of truth that existed there opened my eyes to the fact that Jobs and Gates are a couple of unethical scum-sucking amoral slimeballs who will screw people over with any opportunity to make a buck. Certainly Gates more than Jobs, but Job's egomaniacalism more than makes up more whatever honor he may possess. These are not the people I want to emulate...
  • Yeah, it was ok, it was *entertainment* not exactly reality. Funny in parts though. Any real hacker admires Steve Wozniak, of course. Did Apple invent the GUI? No, but they did market it, and bring it to the people. A.M. Hall was great as Gates, Ballmer is such a jackass, Jobs is, well, Jobs... no mention of NeXT or Pixar, of course. And, gee, Microsoft _owns_ part of Apple? So does every stockholder, right?

  • Oh, my favorite prop was the little rotating display thing that Jobs had for the Mac, where he pushed the red button and it turned 180 degrees. Can't you just see him pushing it 100 times for practice before he shows Gates and company?

    Gotta get one of those for my next product launch!

  • I thing It could have used Jar Jar Binks. Maybe he could have played the guy that invented the ethernet.
  • >I thought Macintosh had 5 to 10 years of being the only real GUI that was actually used.

    The Amiga and the Atari ST both had GUIs in the mid-80's, and there were others (GEM?) as well. The Xerox Star was (I b'leeve) the first commercially available computer with a WIMP interface, although it sold very few machines just like the Lisa. And X Window was born in 1984. But yes, you are correct about a usable (if pretty lame) version of Microsoft Windows not being available until the 90's.
  • >CP/M used a C> prompt...

    Shouldn't it have been an A> prompt? The C> prompt only came to be because most hard drives were C, after two (A and B) floppy drives.
  • by Smack ( 977 ) on Monday June 21, 1999 @04:36AM (#1840970) Homepage
    One thing that caught my attention was the way that the Macintosh and Windows 1.0 were shown as competing seriously. Windows didn't really catch on until 3.0, right? I thought Macintosh had 5 to 10 years of being the only real GUI that was actually used. Windows was quite late to that market. But in the movie, they make it sound like Windows was a heavy competitor from day one.

    It just makes it look, to a naieve viewer, that Macintosh has always been second best, when I don't think that was true for several years.
  • It is a well known fact that occasionally one hand of the TNT management tries to play up to the nerd population and then stops immediately when the other hand finds out what the first is trying to do. This can be shown quite clearly in TNTs dealing with Babylon 5, its occasional choice of movies and a situation like Pirates of Silicon Valley.

    I think that the movie started as a documentary, in which the story would be told, and then got mangled into a docudrama and then further got mangled into a story that has a clear "Bill Gates Won" ending.


    Methinks the actual history was far more interesting. The sad thing is the lukewarm reception this will get in feedback and numbers when they show it again will give TNT the impression that geeks are not a signifigent part of the viewing population and then it is a waste to give them anything that is catered to them.

    Anyways, I did like the ending. Here's Steve B as President of MS, Gates as richest man in the world, Jobs running Apple (and leaving us with the impression that he's Gates' bitch).

    And then we have Woz. He teaches kids how to use computers and funds a ballet.

    I know who I think got the best deal out of the whole thing.
  • I've used both, and they both sucked. I have a copy of Windows 1.03, which is basically a DOS Shell with a few programs... it looks sort of like GEOS for the C64 (which was far better, and smaller). Windows 1.03 was in EGA (at best), as opposed to the earlier versions which I guess were monocrome or CGA. The only thing that hasn't changed from then until Windows 3.1 was the Windows Write File Format. Scary, huh? Of course Windows 3.x was the first to have OLE, but the rest of the format is compatible. The binaries are incompatible in both directions, but Windows 1.03 had most of the utilities there, albeit with less functionality: calc, paint, the control panel, the DOS Executive (vestigal File Manager, I guess), etc, etc. It also ran on DOS 3.2 or so (had to use SETVER to use it on a later DOS) and you couldn't really get a command prompt without exiting. (I haven't tried it on a really old computer) It runs great under DOSEmu, though. ;)

    The Macintosh was very expensive (and originally black-and-white), and it had a more developed GUI, but it wasn't intuitive for me. Throwing out a disk and deleting a file are not the same thing... I think either the disk should be destroyed, or the files should be printed and deleted or something. The metaphor does not hold. Ejecting a disk shouldn't leave a "phantom disk" on the desktop. A dead mac shouldn't be unhappy, it should give some real information. A negative number is not an error message. A crashed mac ("[bomb] A system error has occured [Reboot button]") should either reboot or give more options, especially when it might have crashed enough that clicking on the button *does nothing*! To its credit, Windows now has some of these bugs. Unfortunately, so do current Macintoshes. (and better ones: being endlessly prompted to insert two different CD's is really fun for the novice) Most importantly, *where's the commandline*?!?!?!?!

    There's nothing wrong with the Macintosh or the IBM PC, per se, but I can't stand Windows (especially > 3.1) or MacOS. They both have horrible, annoying flaws and quirks. MacOS has no command line, and DOS isn't flexible enough. My solution is the same on both systems: format, and install Linux.

    And yes, Larry, Steve and Billy are all very egotistical, very rich, and share a striking resemblance to Larry, Moe and Curly.
  • now now.... lets not start this one

    if we all go on prasing the Woz the way we all want to (and the way he deserves...) we will send slashdot into overload ;-)

  • by crayz ( 1056 )
    If you knew what you were talking about, you would have said MacAddict magazine. Many Mac users are currently very pissed at MacWorld because they have been doing unfiar tests and comparisons.(For instance when comparing servers they compared a Dual 500MHz P3 to a G3 400. They said that the Dual 500 was the best they could do to find a fair one, but then mocked Apple because it lost the performance contest.
  • SRI invented the mouse, hypertext, and a shit-load of stuff in the late 60s. Hell, they invented that magnetized ink on checks so my car payment goes through faster (sometimes not a good thing).

    Anyway, like my asshole economics professor said years ago: it is better to be uninformed than misinformed.
  • 8 bit CP/M didn't have directories, though it had a notion of "user"--seting this number (4 bits? it's been a while) prevented files from other user numbers from appearing.

    CPM/86 was running MS-DOS executables and could use MS-DOS format by sometime in '84 (maybe earlier), but directories appeared as file names, and couldn't be reached. CCP/M could multitask by that point, too.
  • >The C could have very well been a hard
    >drive under CP/M, or it could have been a floppy

    Both are technically possible, but neither are likely :)

    While it was physically possible to have a third floppy drive, it didn't happen very often. Come to think of it, I don't think I ever saw one.

    I *did* have a 10M hard drive attached to an Osborne for development work in 1982. It wasn't all that useful :) No directories in CP/M, and the drives were generally aftermarket hacks (though there was the superbrain, with 5/10/15 options to replace the second floppy).

    For the most part, though, if development work needed either the third floppy, or the hard drive, a microcomputer wasn't the right tool back then.
  • And on yet another hand, Xerox didn't come up with it all internally--some of it was based on Raskin's graduate work. Implementing his thesis work at Apple would hardly be stealing from Xeorox (unless he stole the code he'd written), even if Xeorox had been opposed.
  • Usable footnotes. I'd never seen them on a microcomputer before word 1.0.

    BASIC. The early years :) It wasn't new, but implementing & selling it for a microcomputer was innovative.

    Combined with Bob, that gives you three innovations--unless you want to count tha damned paper clip in addition to Bob . . .
  • About a year ago, the WSJ was so amused at the cover letter for a resume from a photographer, explaining how suited his work was to their paper in particular, that they ran the sentence in the last paragraph on column four with a "not quite clear on the concept" label.

    [hmm, for those not understanding this, the WSJ doesn't use photographs, but drawings. Though occasionally on page B1 now, the arrangement includes photographs of products.]
  • on alt.folklore.computers. The "who invented the mouse" thing got beaten to death. Apparently similar concepts arose independently from at least a couple of sources.
  • >They had no interest in doing DOS,
    >since they had no OS experience

    That's overstating it. Thd "DOS" of most 8 bit non-CP/M machines at the time wre extensions to Microsoft BASIC. They shipped three levels, "BASIC", "Extended BASIC", and "Disk BASIC." Typically, Extended BASIC was in ROM, and the remainder of Disk BASIC would be loaded in from disk by a bootstrap loader.
  • I recorded the whole thing on my Linux box. 240x180 6fps but deleted it, it was so depressing.
    One look at that depiction of the way Steve treated his employees will make you never want to enter technology. Everyone agrees Steve was a nutcase in real life. He really made his employees work 48 hours at a time, especially as the Macintosh was pushed farther and farther behind schedule. He was obsessed with innane details that no-one would ever notice, to the point of completely scrapping a nearly finished project just to get the boot time 1 second faster. In comparison, we hear exactly the opposite about how Bill treated Microsoft employees in real life. More important is how competing with something as powerful as Microsoft can turn you into a complete looney.
  • Much like the Xerox deal, Microsoft several times managed to force Apple to hand over the code for parts of the MacOS. This was largely due to threats of discontinuing Macintosh support. In retrospect, Apple probably would have been better off calling their bluff.
  • I'm still trying to figure out why the heck they felt the need to air the movie three times, back to back.

    I came in about half way through the movie and was on IRC so my attention to the movie was somewhat poor. I didn't know when it ended and another "instance" started so I, at first, thought they were doing something really screwy with bouncing back and forth between times. Ha.

    But, hey, they showed it three times so I just paid better attention later and watched the whole thing.

    Maybe TNT just knows us geeks too well. Knows we were all hacking or chatting and not paying much attention. We needed the movie three times before we really got it.
  • Tell me about it.. It was all buildbuildbuild.. Then 'The End'.. DoH!
  • Yeppers, Bill went to 90 BILLION.. ;-O
  • Why did they have to Hollywoodize the movie so much? Truth is stranger than fiction, and there are a lot of true stories which would have been far more entertaining to watch than the stuff they made up.

    For example: Woz and Jobs deciding that if they couldn't think of a name for their company within an hour, they'd name it after this fruit they brought in for lunch. Or Jobs paying an advertising firm to come up with a distinctive logo... and getting the overdetailed (and short-lived) Newton-under-a-tree logo. Or IBM being all set to ink a deal to put CP/M on their PC's, which would have made Gary Kildall rich, except that he took that day to go out flying, and that one decision changed history and ruined Gary's life.

    They obviously wanted this movie to be a creative take on the 'relationship' between Jobs and Gates. Viewed that way, it didn't work either; none of the characters in the movie got my sympathy, and I wasn't able to relate to any of them (thank goodness!). If the movie had put us into the mind of Jobs the tortured soul trying to change the world, or Gates the megalomaniac playing his enemies off each other, it would have worked so much better, but both of them came off as basket cases.

    What *did* work, fortunately, was the way they capped both ends of the movie with the '1984' commercial. Showing the 'making of' the commercial was a stroke of genius, and pure fun. :-)

    One fun thing to look for: J. G. Herzler, "Martok" from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as Ridley Scott in the opening sequence. It's good to see there's life after Star Trek.

    Oh, by the way, someone on the set should have been paying attention: the pronunciation is "AL-tair", not "al-TAIR".

  • Good grief, even discounting the fourteen gazillion million Intel based machines...

    The best selling computer has been the Commodore-64 for quite a long time, having sold something like 15-20 million of the buggers over the course of it's lifetime.

  • Well after watching it for the 2nd time, they played Weird Science.

  • WarGames was fun, as long as you ignored some of the glaring technical merits of the film.

    Such as the fact that Broderick had about $10k of computer equipment in his bedroom, with no explanation of where he struck it rich. :)
  • True. I never had a harddrive on a CP/M machine.

    But one would assume that a development company like Microsoft would have had access to a hard drive.

    I don't know, I guess I was just throwing that out as a possibility. I wasn't paying close enough attention to the movie to see what kind of computer he was using.
  • Correct. The Mac was introduced in 1984. However Windows 3.0 wasn't introduced until like 1990. The first couple versions sucked pretty hard.

    It wasn't until the release of Windows 3.1 in around 1991 that Microsoft dominated the playing field.

    On the other hand from 1985-1990 the Mac faced competition from the Amiga and other home computers. And it's funny that Jobs says "We're Better", when the Amiga was better than all of them at the time. :)
  • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Monday June 21, 1999 @05:06AM (#1840994)
    Several people have commented that Gates sat in front of a computer with a C> prompt and somehow this was out of sequence.

    CP/M used a C> prompt... CP/M was originally written for the Altair. And then later became the dominate OS on hardware from Cromemco(which was important in Gates career and not mentioned :(), Osborne, Morrow, Kaypro, Northstar, etc. Microsoft and Gates were selling CP/M software... MS-BASIC, Macro-Assembler, I believe they even had a C compiler at the time.

    I am not sure about the historical accuracy of the meeting with IBM. My understanding was that IBM approached Microsoft, not the other way around. This was after Kildall had blown them off when IBM asked to have CP/M ported.

    As far as the theft from Xerox and whether it was theft or not. This was all covered in the court case back in 1994 or so when Apple sued Microsoft. Microsoft won the court case, and I believe one of the aspects was that since Apple did not originate the ideas they had no property rights to protect. Those rights belonged to Xerox who wasn't involved in the lawsuit. (as far as I remember)

    I thought it was entertaining. Hall did a wonderful Gates impersonation!

    But my favorite line in the whole film was when they were at the unveiling of the Mac and Ballmer turns to Gates and says "Since when did this stop becoming a business, and start becoming a religion?"

  • Yes, in the acid drop scene he was appearing to direct the winds.... possibly meant to be 'winds of change' and when he was at the beach house for the party ,throwing the frisbees out to everyone, he was making the motions of conducting as well... so it was as if the hallucination came to be. And heck, one could maybe even argue that it was at the beach house and there was a new tide coming in, but that's a little far fetched for me.

    Regardless, the acid scene was prelude to a later scene.
  • Befor DOS 5 if you didnt have "prompt=$p$G" DOS would default to C>,A>,..etc. The prompt command makes it look lile "C:\"
    And on CPM the floppy drive was called "C>". On DOS it was/is called "A>".(or is it A:>?...its been a LONG time since I have had to use a MS OS.)
  • Anyone know where I might find the plans for the Altair? Or even some more data. It would be cool to make one, since there is no way in hell I would ever be able to get my hands on a real one. Arnt they based on the 8080? I have a few sitting around and I could also probbly get the rest of the old chips no prob.
  • Jobs still runs Pixar. Why are you assuming that his role as acting CEO at Apple means that he's permanently away from Pixar? That's not the case. (BTW Apple is a half hour drive from his house, Pixar is an hour -- maybe less when he uses his helicopter.)

    Even more importantly, after buying Pixar, Jobs poured fifty million dollars of his own money into it to make it what it is today. He certainly deserves credit for Pixar.

  • I thought the movie was going just fine and was pretty entertaining. Then about 5 minutes before it ended, it looked like the whole thing ran out of money and time. The last 4-5 minutes covered as much time as the previous two hours. I kind of wish they would've gone farther and bridged the gap between Jobs getting pissed ad Gates and eventually getting fired to the point where Jobs was rehired and became "buddies" with Gates. Other than that, I thought they did a respectable job on it (though it seemed more focused on Jobs than Gates.)
  • I didn't think it was bad. Needless to say it left something to be desired. It was entertaining to see everything you had only heard and read about put into a film. The movie definitely needed to be longer. They skipped over far too much. I wanted to see how Jobs was fired. The Amlio Years. The deal struck between IBM, Apple & Motorola. The failure of the Copland project. Apple's desiccation to buy Next.

    I liked how Gates and Jobs were portrayed. It played both of them up to be the greedy bastards they are. The movie did a good job showing what a geeky little jerk Gates is. And tore down Jobs enough to bring forth the reality that he to is human and not the great oracle some believe him to be.

    Maybe the sequel will be better.

  • > wasn't part of any settlement (they were all
    > thrown out of court)

    I'd be interested to see you substantiate that.

    One thing I can't stand is this: many people don't realize that around that time Apple had one or two quarters in each of which they lost over $700m. Anyone following the Apple story would know that $150m was not big money anyway.
  • I found it interesting how they portrayed real people in the film.

    Jobs was a jerk. Gates was a Weasel. And Steve Balmer was a pervert.

    Also the real reason for the Apple/ MS rivalvry
    was because Jobs snubbed Gates once at a convention.

  • >Also the real reason for the Apple/ MS rivalvry was because Jobs snubbed Gates once at a convention.

    Well, they did add a bit more to Gates' character than that. They reference how little he likes loosing, and mention quite a few yelling rants that Jobs had at Gates. Insert #disclaimer: Now, i personally don't think gates is either a saint or a devil (misguided but really d@mn good salesman perhaps), but you have to admit, if you were yelled at repeatedly by someone w/delusions of godhood (in this PARTICULAR case, Jobs), whether you had same delusions or not, you'd be inclined to take some out of their hide. For revenge if nothing else. They also show Gates w/similar delusions of godhood. So you have to add that neither character was stable, and both wanted to be king, in a world that debunks heroes, to the reasons they didn't play nicely. They aren't fully 3D people, but there was at least a passing attempt to keep them believable. While they don't make the characters 'men off the street', they do make them more or less emotionally accessable and logical. Which kind of means that it's hard to say that the only reason MS didn't play well w/Apple was because of being snubbed. That was just one in a plethora of reasons, and not even the most important even as portrayed in the movie. Besides, turn it around, why was Apple so bound and determined that they (in particular, the Mac group) were the only 'artists' in the world? That didn't exactly go over well with the rest of the world at the time, and adds yet another reason for MS to want to take them down a peg. For good or ill, it is a rather understandable, human responce.
  • OK, just to be short and to the point,
    all along, Jobs acted like he hated
    IBM and "big brother" and how they all
    had to dress the same, and be perfect
    employees. I don't know how true it is,
    but in the movie, Jobs turned into a psycho
    and ordered everyone around, and made them
    all be the *same* by being different. They all
    had to be pirates, just like IBMers all had to
    be whatever it was that they were.

    And BTW, if you're really looking for a good
    view of Microsoft life, read Microserfs.
  • Bob. Okay, you win.

  • Well, Paul Allen got out of MS before his dickness could mature fully... And he funds many startups, thus offering future generations opportunity, so I don't think he's that bad...

    And sue me, Steve Ballmer cracks me up..

    Just goes to show, what a little luck, a lot of nerve, and a penchant for criminal negligence will get you..

    (And I'm _glad_ SJ took it in the ass as he did in this feature, he deserves all the shit that'll stick..)

    The sequel will hopefully feature a Ballmer aside where he tells you exactly when Gates sold his soul.. (or did he even have one to sell?)
  • I think you give Allen too much credit. Keep in mind he invests in things like Ticketmaster and Cable Companies, two of the most hated institutions in the US (at least by Pearl Jam.)

    I agree.. I said he didn't have time to _fully_ develop his dickness, that doesn't mean some didn't get a chance to come out.. ;)

    (and even IBM techs have been 5-day casual since at least 1995, when I was there.. Unless you're meeting with a customer...)
  • In 1986 I met a shy, studious, man named Bill in San Francisco (both he and I were down on business) and spent a pleasant evening in his company, whatever 2 nice young single professionals do together on off hours. In 1997, I filed into a hot, muggy, auditorium in Boston to hear another man speak, with whom I had had a short, but meaningful correspondence.

    Whoever those people were trying to portray were not these two men. Nowhere did I see any evidence that either one of them was intelligent, charismatic, or charming beyond what we are told by the narrators. There was no defining point in which we see that Jobs could distort reality (I felt triumphant and almost personally complimented as I walked out of the auditorium) or that Gates could use his gamesmanship (awkward he was, yes, but he played that as a *strength* -- it connotes honesty) to achieve their goals. Instead we're given The Hippie Nerd and The Nebbish Nerd: Evil Steve, powerhungry and cruel, versus Luckless Bill, striking out with women and hanging out with the boys in between speeding, ogling strippers, and fooling with computers. Nowhere do we see that there is any other computer industry other than these two guys and the older mainframe companies they used as stepping stones, even the music seemed irrelevant (this takes place 1976-84, but the music was a potpourri of general "counterculture" standards--where is Dylan (Jobs's favorite), Pink Floyd (Gates's favorite), or the music from the US festivals? Or MTV techno-pop?). In this world, video games don't exist, no one ever got an Apple II under the Christmas tree, and Jobs and Woz weren't married. The gestation of Lisa seemed to take an eon, and Gates has the quietest rises to power ever-- first you see them toiling in a cheezy motel room and then -- poof! they're millionaires.
    As my friend kept reassuring me, this won't be the last movie to come out of this. I certainly hope so.
  • This is from Triumph of the Nerds, and I may be mutilating some of the details, but anyways:

    In the early days of Apple, Jobs needed someone to fill a management position and knew exactly whom he wanted: John Sculley, then head of sales at Pepsi-Cola. So they meet.

    Sculley is initially not thrilled about the idea. Give up a great position at a rock-solid, multinational company for some shaky startup? What is this guy, nuts? So Jobs looks him in the eye, and says:

    "Do you want to go on selling sugar water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?"

    And he had him!

    Of course, Sculley ultimately kicked Jobs out of Apple, but that's another story...

    Steve 'Nephtes' Freeland | Okay, so maybe I'm a tiny itty

  • "It doesn't matter" can also be construed as "It'll get better". More a warning against complacency. Apple continued to sit on it's laurels, laughing at Microsoft Windows. Now who has the highest market penetration (not that I LIKE it that way)?

    Remember, just because something sucks NOW, doesn't mean it's always going to suck (or at least not as badly).

    At least that's how I took it.

    Chas - The one, the only.
    THANK GOD!!!

  • Bill Gates (about the Apple guys): And these guys think IBM's the enemy! *SNICKER*

    Chas - The one, the only.
    THANK GOD!!!

  • They also played a little with some facts. For example, Apple getting WIMP from Xerox PARC (the leading technology center for everyone but Xerox) was completely above-the-table, with stock gifts, etc.
    It was kind of "okay" IMO. When it ended, I felt like there was still another hour of the show -- that's my big complaint, that it fell flat at the end.
    And, frankly, I'm surprised those NECs were shipping with Windows 1.0, since my first taste of MS Windows (2.something) was that it was a horrible piece of wasted bits -- even Windows 3.whatever was a vast improvement.
    Christopher A. Bohn
  • by EngrBohn ( 5364 ) on Monday June 21, 1999 @04:08AM (#1841013)
    This was filmed in 1997, and supposed to air last year. That's why there's no iMac. I think the other reason it ended where it did was because that's a good poetic note, with BillG looming over Jobs on the big screen just like Big Brother in the 1984 commercial.
    Christopher A. Bohn
  • This was my biggest beef too. Windows 1.0 (well, 1.1 is the earliest I've used) sucked. You couldn't even overlap windows...IIRC they were either iconified or tiled. It used a lot of memory even then. I never noticed any difference with Windows looked like the same thing to me with a different version number. Ahh...I just had a bad flashback of 'the DOS Executive'.

    Anyway, I never saw any products for it from anyone but Microsoft either...except for an early AOL thingy. It was only after MS got together with IBM on OS/2 that they were able to learn/steal enough to have a real product. Even then, on the same hardware GEM was better (I still have a copy).

    Beyond the timeline liberties, they played Steve up to be a nut. Sure, he's a jerk, but so is Ellison and so is Gates. Look where they all are.

  • they sure didn't. that was SRI.
  • interesting. i saw this on the news this morning and the top 5 were:
    1: gates $90 billion
    2: buffet $36 billion
    3: allen $30 billion
    sultan of brunei $30 billion
    5: king fahd(sp?) $28 billion

    ballmer wasn't mentioned.
  • actually, from what i understand, the mouse was invented at SRI. in fact, i have a mousepad with a picture of it (it's a large wooden block with a single red button in the top right corner--so either it's for southpaws or the picture is backwards--and what i think is a sun serial connector at the end of it's cable) and a caption stating: "SRI International, Inventor of the Mouse".
  • first, life's not fair. yes, it's trite, but it's also true.

    remember, either directly or indirectly, those people worth billions of dollars have helped others actually have jobs so that they can put food on their tables. without those rich men (or others in their place), industrialization would have taken much longer to reach the point we're at today. it's those profit-loving business men that have driven innovation (of technology in general, i don't care to start another "winblows sucks" or "linux rulez" thread). without the rich guys at the top, most of us wouldn't be doing what we're doing now, and wouldn't be making near as much money as we do. knock the big guy's down, and they'll end up falling on us.
  • i'm not claiming that i know for a fact that SRI invented the mouse or that Xerox didn't. i'm just telling you the line i've been given. i don't really care enough one way or the other.
  • Calvin Coolidge Movie Review: "the spirit is willing but the facts are weak"

    I regard this movie as insight into the mental states of several of the parties involved. I don't regard it as historically accurate, but that's ok - I enjoyed "Hackers" (yeah yeah, flame on) for the same reason but I would giggle if anyone told me they'd seen accurate technical details there.

    The one thing that came across so well was the overwhelming sense of "What was going through this guy's HEAD?"
  • MS's stock doubling = Bill Gates' fortune doubling.
  • Yup. Say what you like about apple. they're bastards for what they've tried to do to Be. Bsatards for what they're doing with the quicktime codecs. Bastards in general. But they know their stuff, and they *really* know what consumers want. Whereas everything Microsoft has ever got has been through back dealing and wars of attritious marketing.
  • Thankyou - I should have been more specific. The G3 issues with BeOS was what I was talking about. Apple is stifling Be using very MSy tactics, and it's going to hurt them. Good. There is justice.
  • Actually, what you were seeing was the point of view from inside the screen. It wasn't projected on to his face, but you were looking at him through the monitor.

    And yes. The monitor displayed a standard dir /w listing, and when he cleared the screen, you could easily make out "C>"

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • I agree, the movie implied that Xerox invented the mouse, it doesn't come out and say it. If you watch carefully, the woman says "developed" the mouse, and the chairman says "You want us to market something called the MOUSE?!"

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • I don't think that anyone disputes the fact that Bill Gates is a shrewd businessman, but the issue is not his intelligence or business savvy. The issue is his complete lack of ethics. It is possible to get rich via legitimate means, but Bill Gates didn't. Every product that Microsoft has released has been either copied or outright stolen. MS set this standard with their first product (an implementation of Basic), that was developed on stolen academic computer time.

    Bill Gates has been on a philanthropic binge recently. He is also in the middle of an anti-trust suit. It doesn't take someone with a genius IQ to notice the coincidence there.

    I do code for the fun of it, and I don't care about money (in so far that I have enough to maintain the standard of living to which I am accustom). What I do care about is the quality of the products that the computing world is using; and quality is a fleeting commodity in Microsoft products.
  • Classic! That's going to be wallpaper on my Windows partition. :-)
  • According to the book, "The Microsoft Files", Bill Gates' mother, a wealthy Seattle socialite, knew a IBM bigwig socially, and got the ball rolling for Bill.
  • Yeah, CP/M had drive letters like DOS, and (if you weren't running ZCPR3 or something) you might very well see an A> or B> prompt under CP/M.

    But it's very unlikely you would see a C> prompt. Upder CP/M the only way that would happen is if you had three floppy drives. Or a sense of humor.

    But remember, this movie wasn't made for us. It was made for Them. They don't know the difference between a C> prompt and a paper tape, it's all just neat-looking props.
  • And of course we all know how unbiased the mainstream media is as well. More importantly, we all remember a time (very, very recently) when Linux had no mainstream articles to support it in the mainstream press. Yet somehow, despite the lack of attention from CMP, IDG, and ZD, hackers and programmers realized that there was something to this OS. If the mainstream media's approval is the only sign of a good OS then computing is in trouble indeed.

    And finally, I've found that there are brainwashed users of every computer platform. There is no platform without is zealots who illegitimately attack every other OS. Well, maybe when BeOS users make the attack it's legitimate, I don't know the BeOS community well nor the OS at all, but every other OS fanbase I've seen has been this way.
  • those two didn't invent anything; they just bought , stole and made the deals. it is those deals that makes them geniuses.
  • If we want to look at the movie's historical accuracy (which has already been pointed out as somewhat lacking), then what about Commodore? As a competitor to both Apple and the early PC's, Commodore had tremendous success with the =64, which I believe sold more home computers than anything else. The Amiga was a contemporary of the Mac, and was superior to anything available on the market for home use at that time (IMHO).

    Commodore failed largely due to the fact that they were horrible marketers, and couldn't get the advertising thing going.

    A more honest portrayal would have shown the Apple II squared off against Commodore, with Commodore's PET losing out to the Apple II in the education world, but the
    It looks like the movie focused on Jobs and Gates, simply because they are two names that people have read in the WSJ, Newsweek, etc... I personally found that Woz's character was completely underdeveloped, the same being true for a number of Gate's support characters.

    Overall, not terrible entertainment, but I do have to wonder if there isn't a hidden agenda in the movie, as it portrays Jobs as a slave-driving, egocentric, slightly unhinged guy, and gates as a clever opportunist, who was justified in copying apples GUI design simply because Jobs got the idea from Xerox.... But maybe that's just the conspiricy buff in me ;)

    Oh yes, they also left out the section where Linux emerges from the shadows, and attains total world domination 8)

  • Much as I am not really much of a fan of Bill, Steve Jobs, or the rest of this bunch, they do not deserve to have their property stolen from them and distributed to another bunch of people who have done nothing to earn it.

    Let's avoid the socialist rants, and allow *some* people to keep some part of what they earn.

    Incidentally, wealth resulting from the stock valuations is hardly "income" in the traditional sense. Are you suggesting that their stock should be "seized"? How would you do that?

    Truly ridiculous suggestions.

  • I don't dis Microsoft for being unoriginal.. I dis it for making crappy software. Regardless of what the $1M Xerox deal entailed, the fact of the matter is that Apple improved significantly on PARC's software, and has always continued (except recently, when it's just trying to survive) to innovate.
    If Microsoft stole the MacOS and then proceeded to make it even better into a wonderful product, I would not be complaining. The problem is that they took a few ideas, then made a crappy product that they sell primarily through politics and market-manipulation.. NOT through being a better product.

    That, I should add, is NOT what capitalism is about. Capitalism is about achieving through making a better product. Microsoft, in most cases, does not do this.

    The money Bill gives to charity is not the issue here. The issue is whether Microsoft is forwarding the cause of good software. It isn't.
  • I really liked the sinister music in the background whenever Gates was on screen, especially when he met Jobs at the Computer Faire. I was waiting for Gates to but in a hockey mask and whip out a chainsaw.
  • Steve Jobs was drinkin perrier, lemon perrir and back then there was no lemon perrrier
  • The one thing I feared was that it would be purely Gates vs. Jobs. It's good to see that WOZ, at least, came off looking good. As someone who cut his teeth on an Apple ][+, I always looked up to WOZ as a real hero. Back in those days, Jobs was just the guy who seemed to handle the business stuff.

    I do think they overplayed the threat that Windows posed to the Mac early on. Windows at that point was just a joke. It was there mainly so IBM could say "Yeah, our stuff can do that pretty graphics thing, too... but hey, who needs it to run 1-2-3?"
    The movie made it seem that the introduction of Windows was the beginning of the end for Apple. The reality of mismanagement, bad marketing, and who knows what else that caused Apple to poop out is a much more complex story, and ill-suited to a movie of the week.

    It would have required a miniseries (such as, say, Triumph of the Nerds) to tell the whole story... the downfall of IBM (including the OS/2 debacle), Apple's faultering, Microsoft finally getting it right (enough) in Windows 3.0.

    I suspect they didn't go into the later 80's and early 90's because of a nostalgia factor. There was still this naive sense of wonder with computers back in those days. Nowadays, they are boring beige appliances that most people pound on during the day at work.
  • I got the biggest kick out of of seeing the old machines.

    Gates was shown hacking up Basic on what looked a DEC PDP-8/E (the box with the orange/yellow front panel and lots of flat toggle switches.)

    I also looked like they found an Alto. It was also a kick to see the Lisa interface again.

    I'll swear I saw what looked like an Apple III on a desk.

    I know I was at at least one Homebrew Computer club meeting where they were showing the Apple I, and I was at the First West Coast Computer Faire where the II was introduced. But in both cases, I remember the machines, not the people.

  • Well, the Jack Tramiel story could be a whole movie on its own... :-)

    (Atari -> Commodore, all the stupid marketing blunders in both companies, and the plethora of different machines that failed - the +/4, the A600, the CD-32, the 64C, ...)
  • I read somewhere that Gates only plans to leave $1 million to each of his children. Everything else will be given to charities.

    Any one know if this istrue???
  • I have some circa 1988 MacWorld magazines around somewhere. Pretty funny stuff in there like "There's going to be a GUI for IBMs called OS/2 Presentation Manager. There's going to be a PageMaker port. Oh No!! (But we aren't really worried because the Mac will always be the best computer.)" Pretty funny because Windows was already on version 2.

  • Maybe both is true. I've heard Kildall was stinking drunk when IBM came to visit.

  • Actually, if it was "C>", and not "C:\>", it probably wasn't a gaffe - it probably was supposed to be CP/M. ("Winchester Drives" for CP/M machines weren't extremely uncommon. Since Microsoft was biggest development tools vendor for CP/M, it's pretty likely that they would have a few!)

    I had a MS Z80 board also, and it came with "Micro Soft CP/M for the Apple II". No DR brandname.
  • I liked Pirates of Silicon Valley overall. It's an interesting story, even to those of us who grew up with the characters in the news, watching the whole thing as it really happened.

    It probably could have been retitled "The Rise and Fall of Steve Jobs"-- most of the interesting parts of the movie were the ones dealing with Apple, not Microsoft. In fact, often it seemed like the Bill Gates scenes were only thrown in because he's the richest man in the known universe, which should make him a sure draw for Nielsen ratings-- but they're rarely interesting scenes. In fact, during the negotiation with IBM, they have to step back and have Steve Ballmer's character tell people that "Hey, this is history! This is important!", but most of the scenes dealing with early Apple were interesting in their own right.

    The treatments of historical events was played a bit fast and loose for the sake of the story-- but the character interaction seemed to be right with what we'd expect from these people, whom admittedly, most of us have never met. Steve Jobs comes across as the eccentric we expect. Woz is the technical genius who really doesn't have any clue that he's building 'tomorrow'. Bill Gates comes across as someone who _really_ doesn't like to lose. And the corporate bigwigs are dead-on. None of them believe there can be any money at all in personal computers.

    If you're looking for a movie about the geek gadgets that evolved into what we now know as computers, this is not the movie for you. But if you want to get a glimpse into the minds of the people who changed the world, I think this is a good guess at that.

    Of course, you should take this review with a grain of salt-- after all, I liked War Games, too...

  • by knick ( 19201 ) on Monday June 21, 1999 @05:22AM (#1841061) Homepage
    Actaully, they were a bit off in how the whole IBM/DOS thing happened.

    IBM came to MS for applications for the PC. MS signed a non-disclosure and everything before IBM would even talk to them about what they wanted. Then, IBM went to Digital Research for DOS (I *believe* that MS even suggested them for the DOS. They had no interest in doing DOS, since they had no OS experience) Digital Research freaked at the idea of IBM approaching them and wanting this non-disclosure signed before they would even tell them why there were on thier front porch (DR was still operating out of thier house at the time) and basicly told IBM to go away. IBM went back to MS, told them what was going on, told them that without the DOS, the whole project might be in jeporady (remember, IBm wasn't REALLY stong on the idea of a PC, it was kind of a back-burner project). Facing the prospect of losing the whole application deal, they stuck thier necks out and told IBM they could do the DOS too. Paul Allen freaked, becuase he didn't believe they could come up with an OS that quickly with no experience. Of course, then they went and bought the DOS, but the fact of the story was, the fact that they didn't want to lose the application contract, and the fact that DR dropped the ball, made Microsoft what they are today.

    Bottom line, they lucked into a good positon, and were willing to take a chance on the fact they could come up with an OS.
  • by DougLandry ( 27581 ) on Monday June 21, 1999 @04:01AM (#1841082) Homepage
    There were several things I didn't like about the movie:
    • First, Steve Jobs' character faults were overdone. Yes, I realize it was a 'docudrama' not a documentary, but more specifics on the facts should have been included. They could've shortened the five minute Jobs-Drops-Acid scene.
    • The technical errors. We were chatting on IRC as the movie played, and we collectively noted a few errors. Gates used the IBM PC when it hadn't shown up on the scene yet. They used a Apple II screen that hadn't been invented for eight years. There were a few others.
    • The historical errors. I understand a certain poetic license must be taken to make this appeal to the common watcher. However, to say that Apple stole the GUI from Xerox PARC just as much as MS stole technology from Apple is ludicrous. There was a financial deal, involving a 1 million dollar payment that appreciated, to allow Apple access to the Xerox technologies.
    • Lastly, the time frame covered of the movie was really skewed. They focused on the years of the Lisa and original Mac, but didn't show the 14 or so years after that, leading up to the iMac that signalled the return of the company. They left it at MacWorld Boston 1997, where MS bought 150 million of *nonvoting* Apple stock. This was probably the beginning of Apple's turnaround...They could've at least added a note at the end during the messages like "bill gates is the richest man in the world" that simply said "Apple's latest iMac is the best-selling computer in the world, of all time.

    The movie was decent. I think it was okay for a made-for-tv movie. However, for someone who has read all the inside-Apple non-fiction books, some info was lacking in some areas, and the choice of timeframe covered left a lot to be desired.

    I suppose my main beef is that the millions of people whose only notion of Apple is that colorful iMac they see on TV now think the company is run by a acid-dropping CEO.

  • There was one scene in the movie which came right after the IBM PC was released with DOS (early 1980's). "Gates" and "Ballmer" were talking about Apple while Gates is hunched over an IBM PC keyboard (before the invention of ergonomics, apparently).

    In typical TV fashion, you can see a reverse-image of the green-screen monitor on Gates' face (Geez, man, turn down the brightness!).

    I could SWEAR the prompt was C:\WINDOWS>

    Am I nuts or did anyone else see this?
  • I found very interesting the level of depth put into Jobs' character versus the level of depth put into Gates' character. Steve came across looking (aside from an emotional artist-genius) three-dimensional than the two-dimensional (yet very lucky) Bill Gates. But I am left with some respect for Bill, and some awe at Steve.

    The delicious irony that the movie pointed out was how Bill despised Big Blue/Big Brother, and went to the belly of the beast to slay it. (Although I think they put a little too much foresight and gave too much credit to the demands of Gates at the conference table.)

    Just like the revelation that Darth Vader was Luke's father, Big Brother has taken off the mask, and it is none other than Bill himself! And our young Luke Skywalker (Jobs) performes a marriage of convenience with his mortal enemy to save his empire. Is there another Skywalker?
  • I think TNT's view of things was a good introduction to the history between the two (Jobs and Gates). I mainly grinned and nodded at most of the factual content (and picked up a few things that might be true, who's to know?). But to their real target, people like my father who just don't touch these silly computer things, it was well done. It shows just a bit of what has gone on behind it all, but keeps their interest wonderfully. After he's seen it, I might just be able to explain to my father just what the Open Source movement could mean in the whole picture.
  • To say that Jobs stole from Xerox is silly. That was what Gates said to jobs, something like "You're problem is broke into Xerox's house to rob them, and now you're upset that I'm making off with the TV." I can't remember the quote exactly, but Apple made a deal with Xerox to get their engineers into PARC, and Gates didn't steal from the Xerox STAE system, he stole from the Apple Macintosh system. A big difference. Name one product Gates hasn't filched. Well, you probably can, but's it's probably not a very good one.

  • by cetan ( 61150 ) on Monday June 21, 1999 @04:11AM (#1841158) Journal
    (as an aside)

    Although occasionaly PBS re-broadcasts the episodes, you can buy the tapes and companion book from PBS at:

    I'd highly recommend it. Let Hollywood have their artistic license, I'll stick with PBS.
  • Now wait-a-minute here. While what you've typed here is, near as I know, the entire truth about the IBM/Microsoft deal, you didn't say anything snide about Microsoft in it. Don't you know this is Slashdot? Show some covert envy there, bucko.
  • by diamonddave ( 137417 ) on Monday June 21, 1999 @04:03AM (#1841185)
    was when Steve Jobs' partner pointed to the "big brother" in the 1984 commercial and then pointed to Gates. Quite a revalation.

    Of course Gates had a couple of great lines as well: when he was on the phone with the Altair guy, he told Woz that he needed to convince this guy, who didn't know what he needed, that he needed what Microsoft had and that only Microsoft could give it to him. A philosophy that has continued for years.

    And the second good Gates comment was at the end when Jobs said Apple's stuff was better, and Gates gestured to the NEC running Windows and said it didn't matter. Another philosophy that continues today.

    And although both Gates and Jobs were pirates, with Jobs stealing from Xerox and Gates from Jobs, Jobs created the Mac, and Gates??? well, Gates and Paul Allen didn't appear to create anything since they wrote their little piece of code for the Altair.

    I hope plenty of Windows users saw this so they can see the depths from which their operating system came from.

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith