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TNT's "Pirates of Silicon Valley" traces the careers of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. 

Clash of the Computer Titans

"Pirates of Silicon Valley"
TNT
Sunday, June 20, at 8 p.m., 10 p.m. and midnight
Repeats through June 27 There are two kinds of people today: There are those who think the Mac is supreme, and there are those who swear by the Microsoft Windows operating system. And if you really want to watch things get squirrelly, just check into any Internet chat room or e-mail discussion group and proclaim that one is better than the other. But what you'll really find fascinating — if you watch TNT's "Pirates of Silicon Valley" — is that both systems originated with guys who were, well, socially challenged, if not completely crazy. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates may have been brilliant in the nerd-world sense, but the rest of us would have labeled them as nuts, at best. "Pirates" traces the early careers of Jobs and Gates from the dorm-room tinkering stage to the time when their two fledgling but competing personal-computer empires began to change the way we office as well as the way we hobby. Noah Wyle ("ER") stars as Jobs and Anthony Michael Hall ("The Breakfast Club," "Edward Scissorhands") plays Gates. Rounding out the cast are Joey Slotnick ("Twister") as Jobs' sidekick Steve Wozniak, and Josh Hopkins ("G.I. Jane") as Microsoft co-founder Steve Ballmer. Obsessed is another word that describes both Jobs and Gates. Jobs, who was born in 1955, orphaned, and then adopted, grew up in what is now known as Silicon Valley. He and Wozniak created the Apple I in Jobs' parents' garage — when they were still teen-agers. The two founded Apple Computers and Jobs was a millionaire before he turned 30. Jobs co-designed the Apple II, led the development and marketing for the Macintosh and watched the company grow to be worth $2 billion. In 1985, he was deposed. In 1996, he returned to Apple as interim executive officer. Gates was equally obsessed, but perhaps a bit craftier. Unlike Jobs, Gates got most of his early ideas and products from others less able to see the future as clearly as he did, according to "Pirates." Born in Seattle in 1955, Gates went to Harvard, where he shared a dorm with Ballmer (now Microsoft's president). Gates and a childhood friend developed the BASIC programming language used in the first microcomputer, the MITS Altair. When Gates was in his early 20s, Microsoft was born. The company grossed $1 million during its first year. Microsoft's strategy was to capitalize on programs that were discards from major companies, such as IBM. The eventual result was Windows, the now almost-ubiquitous operating system that some say borrowed heavily from the Mac look and feel. Gates is now the richest man in the world, and Microsoft owns a portion of Apple. Martyn Burke, who is making his feature-film directorial debut with "Pirates," has, along with Wyle and Hall, done a good job sketching a broad picture of the two rivals, and Burke laces his movie with attention-grabbing scenes and dialogue to excellent effect. His use of period music helps to move the story along smoothly. "Pirates" is fascinating because it is the story of two Titans who clashed, with only one emerging victorious. And, oh, what marvelous toys their passionate competition gave
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