My Movie Review: Pirates of the Silicon Valley (English) 1999

October 20, 2005 at 7:52 pm (Technology)

Don’t watch this movie expecting to gain some anthropological knowledge out of it about computers. Of course, while watching one cannot forfeit all our good/bad prejudices about Gates and Microsoft.
We all know a little bit about the evolution of Microsoft as a company and how it changed our world. But what I didn’t know was that it had to fight not just IBM but also work around Apple. Today, Microsoft owns part of Apple.
The movie on the whole speaks about the growth of PC market. To be technical, speaks about the birth of GUI (Graphical User Interface).
It begins with IBM in the early 1980’s, the big brother in the computer world that everyone else feared. Everyone dressed alike at IBM, company songs and jingles filled the air, and men in suits were everywhere
We all know that Kareena Kapoor refused to play “Naina” in Kal Ho Na Ho which was eventually played by Preity Zinta. How stupid was that. I use this as an analogy to how HP who had all proprietary rights on whatever Steve Jobs created stupidly refused Jobs’ idea of Personal Computer with GUI. This means the idea made Jobs setup his own company called Apple Inc with some $50000 from a Venture capitalist from Intel.
Apple was up and running, Gates was still a geek in college doing weird stuff with his friend Ballmer and Paul. But Gates always speaks about the power of computers and the role they play is shaping the future. Gates starts Microsoft in Seattle.
For those who have read the book “The fate of IBM” will know more about this super cool scene in the movie where Gates attends a key meeting with IBM executives. I personally consider scene the best of the movie.

Gates’ philosophy: First make others depend on you and then exploit their needs.

In just one meeting Gates convinced IBM that they “needed” his Operating System called DOS. Add to this Gates will not sell it to IBM but will distribute it for license. IBM foolishly agreed to this thinking the money was in the hardware they produced and not the software. The final punch, Gates didn’t have any DOS with him, he just made it all up.
But his buddy, Paul Allen jumped in to help. He went to a local computer startup and bought the OS that they were developing for $50000. They worked more on it, and in turn licensed it to IBM as MS-DOS.
On the other side of the story, Apple stole from Xerox the GUI idea of using a mouse to control. Worked on it really hard and came up with Apple 1, the first GUI Operating system for common man. Obviously it was a big hit and Jobs was growing egoistic by the day. Gates was concerned with Apples growth.
Quoting Steve Jobs: “Good artists copy, great artists steal”
Jobs had own problems in both personal and professional life. When everyone sat together to do something he would start doing something else. He refuses to believe his girlfriend’s kid as his own, behaves a bad father to his kid “Lisa”. Yes, Apple’s first computer was named after his daughter Lisa. Call it professional? Followed by Lisa was the popular Macintosh. Steve Jobs continued making mistakes by treating his employees rudely. He began a new split in the company and a following anti-Macintosh campaign in side Apple itself.
Gates frames a plan to steal the GUI from Apple. He goes to Steve Jobs and tells him that he “needs” Gates’ help. Fate makes Jobs believe that he needs help from Microsoft. He hands over the future release codes of Mac to him to improve it. Microsoft uses all the knowledge gained from this to develop their own GUI based Windows Operating System.
Funny that Jobs never suspected Gates anytime until he actually saw Windows 1 shipped to the market on Japanese hardware.
Movie moves on to show, Steve Jobs fired from Apple (his very own brainchild).
Doesn’t really show much about Microsoft’s growth path or practices. But the movie ends well with Jobs getting a grip over his life, reuniting with his family and Lisa (his daughter) and in 1997 rejoining Apple Inc.
But now, as we all know where Microsoft and Apple stand, MS owns a substantial chunk of Apple today.
Movie: A must see.

Here is scene from the movie at YouTube

Disclaimer: None of the views expressed about are my own. Its what the movie says. Its all about the movie and not about the reality. If any of the above facts are wrong, then please suggest for a  change and it shall be corrected. After all, I am not trying to start a controversy here but talk about a movie I saw.


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