Torching Techies Since March 1996(tm)
A Poke in the Eye of the Online/Multimedia Industrial Complex
[scientifically tested to take no longer than 3 minutes to read, copy and steal like the Picasso you know you are]
Sneak Preview: "Silicon Valley" Built on Theft
TNT Studios -- If you had to base your entire knowledge of the history of the PC business on TNT's upcoming "Pirates of Silicon Valley," you would think that the top dogs -- Bill Gates and Steve Jobs -- simply stole everything that made them rich and powerful. Sure they worked hard in college with their bearded sidekicks, Steve Wozniak and Paul Allen, but once the real innovations had to be made, they simply stole from the "rich neighbors," Xerox.
There's a lot of truth to the tale, based on a book called "Fire in the Valley" by Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine. But it's certain to bring howls from those who see the industry's forefathers as bright shining visionaries instead of new-age cultists (Jobs) or conniving megalomaniacs (Gates). Of course, having all the juicy dirt on-screen is much more entertaining than a positive tribute, so we at 3MR have to give the made-for-cable special our heartiest endorsement. Noah ("E.R.") Wyle is the perfect Jobs, and Anthony Michael Hall plays a squeaky (and perhaps too squeaky clean) Gates. But John DiMaggio steals the show as an excitable, dorky Steve Ballmer.
Thanks to a pirated copy (what else?), we were able to see the movie in advance of its June 20 debut, and the following are some choice scenes.
[In their Harvard dorm room in the mid-'70s, Paul Allen and Bill Gates are working on code for the Altair, while Steve Ballmer looks on.]
Ballmer: Here's the deal. I snuck two women into my room. They're naked. Really naked. Like gorgeous naked. So don't think I never did anything for ya.
Gates: Drop dead, Ballmer. [continues working]
Ballmer: Excuse me. I'm just trying to save you guys from wasting your entire Harvard Reading Week with this data simulator while everyone else is getting drunk or laid!
[Gates and Allen ignore him and continue working.]
[In Albuquerque, Gates and Allen visit MITS to work on the Altair.]
Ed [who runs Altair]: Signing bonus?? I've never given a signing bonus in all my life.
Gates [squeaks]: In our other contracts, we always get a signing bonus.
Ed: Other contracts?? I don't know. OK. $2,000.
Gates: Of course. This business of a $15 royalty for BASIC for every 4K Altair sold is just not acceptable.
Ed: Let me tell you something boy. That's not the way I do business. And I especially don't like being dictated to by some little...
Gates: This is not about dictating. This is about reality. Your machine is brilliant, but it needs our language. Without it, it's just a tin box that lights up. So let's double our royalty from $15 to $30 a copy.
[Ed looks upset, but will give in, just like every other PC maker in the next 20 years.]
[Later, Jobs and Apple are developing the Macintosh. In one tour-de-force scene, Steve spurns his ex-girlfriend who's pregnant with his love child, screams at workers and calls them "morons" and "clock-punching losers," and then sits in on a job interview with a clean-cut applicant named Mr. Brewster.]
Jobs: You look like an IBM type.
Brewster: Uh, no, but I did have a chance to be interviewed by them...
[Jobs puts his bare feet up on the conference room table.]
Jobs: Are you a virgin?
Mike Markkula [Apple chairman]: Steve, c'mon.
Brewster: What? no!
Jobs: How old were you when you first got laid?
Markkula: Steve...leave him alone.
Jobs: I asked you a question!
Brewster [squirming]: My wife and I have been married for...
Jobs: I didn't ask you about your wife. You're still a virgin. You just think you're not. You don't fit in here. Why have you been wasting our time?
[storms out of the room]
[later, Jobs is talking to workers]
Jobs: We have to think of ourselves as artists. As Picasso said, "Good artists copy, great artists steal."
Woz voiceover [as scene shows Xerox PC]: This is who we wanted to steal from. Xerox. They were secretly developing all this amazing stuff, like the mouse and the graphical interface instead of just a bunch of numbers. But when those California engineers had to go to New York to present all this neat stuff, those execs didn't begin to understand what they were looking at. Never mind the mouse. It was like someone dumped a dead rat on the boardroom table.
Xerox exec [looks at mouse]: A mouse. [laughs heartily] You want Xerox to consider something called a mouse?!
[Later, the Apple team is in the Xerox parking lot heading in for a demo.]
Woz voiceover: I felt like one of the Mongol hoardes coming to loot and plunder a bunch of defenseless villagers...We got it from Xerox, who turned it all over for us to fool with like rich neighbors giving away all their junk to the Salvation Army. But the junk ends up being a Rembrandt. About a $100 billion head start on everyone else.
[Of course Apple's head start didn't exactly equal victory.]
[At Microsoft HQ in Redmond, Gates is wheeling in a new Apple Lisa computer, with a graphical interface that makes the IBM/Microsoft PC look dated.]
Gates: This is seriously crummy. Apple's new computer the Lisa. We're dead! I want it!
Ballmer: What do you mean, you want it? It's Apple's. We can't just go and steal it.
Gates: You're not listening to me! I WANT IT!!!
[Later, the Microsoft team flies out to Apple HQ in Cupertino, and are in the parking lot.]
Gates: You know, good artists copy, great artists steal.
Ballmer: Oh yeah, who said that?
Gates: Some artist. I think it was Van Gogh.
Ballmer: Check it out. [points to pirate flag flying over Apple] Aye, matey! It wouldn't be time to rape and pillage, would it? [laughs heartily]
Well, we won't ruin the whole thing for you, but just for the record, Bill Gates is the richest man on earth and Steve Jobs is an interim CEO at Apple.
"3-Minute Roast" is a semi-irregular opinionated rip on anything that strikes our fancy in the online world.
Max Schlickting - Editor-in-Chief
Barbara Yalpsid - Online Editor
Lefty Periwinkle - First Amendment Expert
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