Watch Pirates of Silicon Valley on TNT Tonight

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MovieposterposvTNT plans to reair its 1999 movie Pirates of Silicon Valley tonight at 8pm Eastern/Pacific and again at 10pm. The dramatization -- starring Noah Wyle as Steve Jobs, Anthony Michael Hall as Bill Gates, and Joey Slotnick as Steve Wozniak -- follows the tech entrepreneurs from their college days, to the launch of the Macintosh and MS-DOS, through to Microsoft's investment in Apple as Steve Jobs returns to the company in 1997.

Pirates of Silicon Valley premiered on TNT in 1999 and went on to earn five Emmy® nominations, including Outstanding Made for Television Movie and Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries or Movie. The movie was written and directed by Martyn Burke, who adapted the script from the bestselling book Fire in the Valley by Paul Frieberger and Michael Swaine.

Noah Wyle, who played Jobs in the movie, played a joke on the audience at Macworld NYC in 1999, coming on stage at the beginning of Steve's keynote pretending to be Jobs, complete with black turtleneck, jeans and over-the-top mannerisms -- before the real Steve Jobs good-naturedly interrupted saying "that's not me at all! You're blowing it!" and tried to show him how to impersonate him properly.


The movie isn't an exact retelling of what happened between Apple and Microsoft. Instead, it is a dramatic retelling to make the story more entertaining. Steve Wozniak, writing about the movie said:

The personal drives portrayed in the movie were amazingly accurate. So were the key personalities, but not some others. The incidents themselves were all a best try to represent events that really occurred but they often happened much differently or at different times or with different people.

Top Rated Comments

MacVidCards Avatar
121 months ago
I was the one in charge of getting all of the computers right.

I actually talked Xerox into loaning us an original ALTO. The one you see on screen is real deal, though it didn't work. I spent some time with it...giant circuit boards with lots of gold. One whole board was labeled "Ethernet"

The mouse was something, it had 2 small steel wheels on bottom that rolled in tracks. I sent Xerox a few pages from script, but I may have left out a few. Made me some points in the office when I talked them into it. Had to send a van up from LA to get it.

I got to go shopping at the Vintage Computer Fair in San Jose to buy up lots of the pieces.

I had sold Apple IIs in early 80's so I knew all of the right little bits.

Was incredible to be paid to recreate a past I had lived.

Noah Wyle was very concerned with sounding real.

Before a couple segments he had me coach him on proper comments, uses of speech, etc.

The director and designer both were VERY concerned with accuracy. I had to leap through hoops to get a Lisa I with twiggy drives for scene with it.

I also did a giant room of PDP-8 DEC for Bill Gates, but that scene got cut. We had a working machine, along with spools and spools of paper tape programs for it.

So many memories...
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacVidCards Avatar
121 months ago
We shot the Apple headquarters in a couple places, one was in Valencia.

We also shot on a recently deserted skunkworks north west of LA. (Lockheed Martin or Grummann, I don't recall which)

It was a beautiful bunch of land, the building we did as Xerox Parc had shielding all over so that it couldn't be electronically spied upon. It was clad in white metal panels. As you neared the entrance any and all electronics on you stopped working. (anything that used radio waves) Cell phones and pagers were unable to connect. This made it difficult to stay in touch with crew members once they got in building. I personally set up the Alto in the scene shot there.

We had done a "Picasso Room" in the Apple HQ. The decorator had some artist friend make them quickly for peanuts. Simple 1x4 frames and cheap canvas and house paint. After the movie I sold them on Ebay and have always wondered where they ended up. They weren't very good but I wouldn't mind getting them back. I recently visited the DeYoung and saw real Picassos and I must say the ones we did were rather weak in comparison.

The Transpo guy, Geno was a hack. For some reason he choose Steve Jobs car for scenes in the 70's. He got a Mercedes 560...I argued with Producer & Director that 560 didn't exist then, that a 450 was the top. Nobody cared, I guess they thought it wasn't a car movie.

We were forbidden from contacting Apple to get any props. Our props guy made an Apple 1 and I ended up trading it to a vintage computer museum in San Diego for a deal on all sorts of machines we borrowed for the West Coast Computer Fair. We had gone to a GREAT deal of trouble to recreate booths and the floor layout of the event where Apple II got introduced. I had been to computer shows at the time and knew "the look" but we tried to get the EXACT companies and products that were at the real event. I had a huge space in Hollywood full of these ancient computers. Even the Alto spent a few nights there. I piddled days away using "Barkeeps Friend" on various yellowy machines trying to get their inner beigeness back.

My first day on the show, I fired up an Apple II and hit "PR#6" to boot the floppy drive. A capacitor shot out of it in a shower of sparks. I learned a lesson that came back a few times. Capacitors of this age don't take well to having electric current in them after their innards have dried up.

I still have a few of the Apple IIs from the movie in storage. I think only one of them ever worked well.

The Lisa IIs were interesting. I had 2 of them working for the show. I went so far as to source new CRTs for them. The 10 Meg hard drives were cranky.

I never really found a Lisa I for the scene where Gates rolls it through a shot. I ended up with a Lisa 2 and the guys at Sun Remarketing were kind enough to loan me a Lisa 1 faceplate. The back of it had a plaque from Jobs, thanking them for support and signed by him. I think they got the job of landfilling / scrapping the failure that was Lisa.

They had sold me a couple complete systems, then just 15 years old, but wrapped tight in plastic. They looked new and they were the Lisas we shot. No idea why they trusted me with the Lisa Faceplate or it's significance. Apple had offered a free upgrade from Lisa 1 to Lisa 2 so nobody had them anymore. I was so relieved to get that faceplate.

The Producer, Leanne, was one of the very few with any ethics that I have met in nearly 30 years in film biz. Most would have told me to quit wasting time getting the Alto, or Lisa 1 and just had me toss some beige box on set and ROLL CAMERA !!

The director was NOT passionate about computers, he was passionate about telling the story and telling it right. All of the principals were offered and encouraged to have me coach them on "the lingo" but Noah was the only one who cared. The Ballmer & Gates guys were true to character....no interest at all.

The interior of Bill Gates dorm room was shot in La Canada in a building that is now ISS Props. We had to get a bunch of old Playboys, apparently he had "an interest". We also had a way cool 8 track player that worked. It was SO COOL, that someone stole it from the set.

Noah Wyle wanted more than anything to get Steve "right". Now more than ever I am glad we all tried so hard.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ufwa Avatar
121 months ago

I think it's a pretty unflattering portrayal of both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Also, it missed the best part of the story which is the last 10 years, in my opinion.

Noah Wyle did a FANTASTIC job.


did you expect it to somehow tell the future? it came out in mid 1999. its a 12 year old movie. It was likely filmed in sometime in 1998, early 1999.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cuestakid Avatar
121 months ago

A must see film for anyone who works in IT!

correction

this is a must OWN-

anyone who doesnt have it should just go buy it.

I just find it ironic its not on iTunes
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
montycat Avatar
121 months ago

Do we know Steve didn't like the movie? To be honest i wonder if the Steve Jobs of the iPhone/iPad years would ever have invited the actor playing him up to the stage of a major keynote. Him doing it in 1999 was probably one of the last times the keynotes were actual product introductions with proper Q&A and not a pilgrimage to meet the glorious leader!


Here is you answer, this is a good article http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/10/07/noah-wyle-steve-jobs/?section=magazines_fortune
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DakotaGuy Avatar
121 months ago

Does Micrsoft still own a part of Apple?

No I don't believe so. They might have a few shares in the company, however they sold off most of what they had IIRC.

It is interesting that Steve and Bill were friends that hated each other. I do believe that deep down each admired each other, however they didn't get along very well at times.

Remember love or hate Microsoft they did help save Apple in the late 90's. Steve Jobs was pretty unpopular with the Apple faithful when he went to Bill Gates to ask for some investment in the late 90's, but Apple needed the money to keep going.

Last I will say that Microsoft Office 2011 is an excellent product that I use almost every day on my Mac. Steve got over the idea that Apple had to beat Microsoft in order to be successful years ago... It's time some Apple fans do the same... IMHO.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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