Last week I was listening to The Frequency, a podcast on the 5by5 network hosted by Haddie Cooke and Dan Benjamin. It’s a really nice and light tech news show that comes out every week or so that I recommend checking out.
In episode #157 they got into a deep discussion about the 1999 movie Pirates of Silicon Valley and how Haddie wasn’t aware of a lot of the historical significance of what went on back in those early days. I found myself screaming at my iPhone during the conversation quite a few times and felt compelled to write this post because dammit, people need to know. Pirates is a scripted biography movie. It’s a fictionalized re-telling of events surrounding the formation of the personal computer industry. Dan and Haddie were talking about it like it was a historically accurate documentary which it’s not.
Fortunately for us there actually IS a historically accurate documentary that was the inspiration for a lot of what was seen in the film. The documentary came out in 1996 and is called “Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires.” The documentary was written and hosted by Robert X. Cringely, a journalist and tech writer. I owned this on VHS back in the day and watched it several times. If you’re curious at all about the beginnings of the personal computer revolution and want to hear about it from the actual people who made it happen then this is for you. A lot of what ended up in Pirates was taken from this documentary and for my 2 cents, its way better.
You can buy “Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires” on Amazon Or watch the entire series for free on Archive.org. Part One | Part Two | Part Three
For even more fun you can check out the ancient website for the series. If you haven’t seen this piece of history you should.