Pirates of Silicon Valley
Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999) is an unauthorized made-for-television docudrama written and directed by Martyn Burke. Based upon the book, Fire in the Valley: The Making of The Personal Computer, by Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine, this film documents the rise of the home computer/personal computer through the rivalry between Apple Computer (Apple II and the Apple Macintosh) and Microsoft (MITS Altair, DOS, IBM PC, and Windows).
The central story of the film begins in the early 1970s and ends with a birthday toast in 1985 to Steve Jobs shortly before he was fired by CEO John Sculley from Apple Computer.
Beginning on the campus of UC Berkeley during the period of the Free Speech Movement, the film juxtaposes the trials and tribulations of childhood friends Steve Jobs (Noah Wyle) and Steve Wozniak (Joey Slotnick), who would eventually form Apple Computer, and Harvard students Bill Gates (Anthony Michael Hall), Steve Ballmer (John Di Maggio) and Gates’ high school friend Paul Allen (Josh Hopkins), who would eventually form Microsoft.
Gates, Jobs, and Wozniak would drop out of college (Jobs was actually a Reed College student for a short term but this is not documented in the film; Wozniak would later return to UC Berkeley) in order to take part in the growing personal computer revolution. The film is told from the point of view of Wozniak and Ballmer.
* We're here to make a dent in the universe. Otherwise, why even be here? We're creating a completely new consciousness, like an artist or a poet. That’s how you have to think of this. We're rewriting the history of human thought with what we're doing. - Noah Wyle as Steve Jobs, during the filming of the famous 1984 television commercial.
* You know, Steve was never like you or me, he always saw things differently. Even when I was in Berkeley, I would see something and just see kilobytes or circuit boards while he'd see karma or the meaning of the universe. - Steve Wozniak (Joey Slotnick) describing Steve Jobs (Noah Wyle).
* Steve—it is Steve, right? You say this gadget of yours is for ordinary people. What on earth would ordinary people want with computers? - comment made to Joey Slotnick as Steve Wozniak (in reference to the Apple I computer, circa 1976).
* We're better than you are (pauses) we have better stuff. - Noah Wyle as Steve Jobs
* Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are the true revolutionaries of our time. Not the students who occupied the dean’s office in the late ’60s. Not the anti-war marchers who were determined to overthrow the establishment. Jobs and Gates are the ones who changed the way the world thinks, acts and communicates – answer to the question: "Why did these two 'nerds' become icons?" in an interview with the director of the film, Martyn Burke.
The soundtrack consisted largely of '70s and '80s Classic rock and Disco.
* Bach — "Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins (BWV 1043) Vivace"
* Creedence Clearwater Revival — "I Put a Spell on You"
* The Guess Who — "No Time"
* Iron Butterfly – "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"
* The James Gang — "Collage"
* KC and the Sunshine Band – "Get Down Tonight"
* Moody Blues — "Question", "Isn't Life Strange", and "Gemini Dream"
* The Police — "Synchronicity I"
* Frank Sinatra — "My Way"
* Tears for Fears — "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"
* Talking Heads – "Burning Down the House"
* Steve Wozniak, on his personal website, woz.org has commented on the film through a series of replies to emails from fans. On the issue of accuracy, Wozniak states:
The personalities and incidents are accurate in the sense that they all occurred but they are often with the wrong parties (Bill Fernandez, Apple employee #4, was with me and the computer that burned up in 1970) and at the wrong dates (when John Sculley joined, he had to redirect attention from the Apple III, not the Mac, to the Apple II) and places (Homebrew Computer Club was at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) ... the personalities were very accurately portrayed.
* During an August 4, 2006 interview with Studio 360, former Director of the Xerox PARC research center, John Seely Brown, was shown the clip of Pirates of Silicon Valley in which Bill Gates tells Steve Jobs, "You and I are both like guys who had this rich neighbor—Xerox—who left the door open all the time. And you go sneakin' in to steal a TV set." After viewing the clip, Brown stated that it was not entirely accurate as Steve Jobs was invited by PARC to view their technology in exchange for Apple shares.
* In an interview of director Martyn Burke located on the official TNT Pirates of Silicon Valley website, Burke states that he chose not to interview either Bill Gates or Steve Jobs when making the film:
I did not want to do an "authorized biography" on either Microsoft or Apple, so we made the decision going in that we would not talk or meet with them. With a team of Harvard researchers, I embarked on a seven-month research project that encompassed virtually everything we could find on the history of both companies, including old technical magazines from the '70s. I intended every scene to be based on actual events, including such seemingly fantastic moments as Bill Gates' bulldozer races in the middle of the night and Steve Jobs' bare feet going up on the board room table during an applicant's job interview. I have two or more sources that verify each scene.
* According to his biography iWoz, Steve Wozniak tried quite hard to convince Hewlett-Packard to take his personal computer design, but HP refused anyway.
* Noah Wyle made an appearance during the beginning of Jobs' Macworld Expo Keynote Presentation in 2000, initially pretending to be Jobs. When the audience caught on, Jobs himself appeared and began to banter with Wyle.
* Pirates of Silicon Valley was nominated for five Emmy Awards.