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Wednesday, June 16, 1999 Published at 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK


Gates versus Jobs: The Movie

Steve Jobs (right) and Steve Wozniack in Apple's early days

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are set to become Hollywood heroes - when the battle between the two founders of the computer industry is shown in a new movie in the US.

ER star Noah Wyle plays Apple co-founder Jobs while Anthony Michael Hall plays Microsoft chief executive Gates in TV film The Pirates of Silicon Valley, which makes its debut on 20 June.

Neither portrayal is said to be flattering. Although the film-makers insist they checked everything with two separate sources, some poetic licence has been taken and some facts have been condensed or left out.

Fans of the two computer gurus may find the film woefully incomplete - but it is hoped general audiences will find the tale of two of the most influential businessmen of the late 20th century fascinating viewing.

Film catches 'essence' of battle

[ image: Bill Gates: His rise to power is chronicled in the film]
Bill Gates: His rise to power is chronicled in the film
Michael Malone, who wrote a book on Apple called Infinite Loop, said: "Apple true believers are going to hammer this a thousand different ways on the details, but it caught the essence of Jobs and Gates."

The story starts with Jobs announcing at a 1997 trade fair that Microsoft is investing 150m in Apple, drawing jeers from Mac fans as Gates appears on a video screen, like Big Brother in 1984.

Then it flashes back to the 1970s, with a hippy-like Jobs running past a student demonstration with Steve Wozniak - his Apple co-founder - to get to a computer room at the University of California.

Meanwhile, at Harvard University, an unkempt Gates and his friend, eventual Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, are hard at work on what becomes the first language for personal computers.

Sex life quiz at interview

[ image: Gates' Microsoft Windows is now a household name]
Gates' Microsoft Windows is now a household name
The company's eventual president, Steve Ballmer, is seen in the background trying to persuade his friends to visit topless bars instead.

Writer and director Martyn Burke said he and his team read old computer magazines and visited museums to research the storyline, and picked up several old computers to add realism to the film.

Gates is shown as quiet and power-hungry, in contrast to the tempestous and enigmatic Jobs, who is seen asking an executive during a job interview if he was a virgin.

"I don't think he ever asked a middle-aged business executive if he was a virgin," says Malone.

"But that was the one time they caught that weirdness about him, where he liked to put people off balance and have this supercilious smile on his face."

Neither company impressed

[ image: Steve Jobs is now back with Apple after being ousted in 1985]
Steve Jobs is now back with Apple after being ousted in 1985
He added Jobs would recruit students at college campuses, and ask cheering audiences if anybody was still a virgin.

But the movie's story ends when the two executives' strained relationship turns into outright rivalry in 1985, when Jobs learns of Gates' plans to introduce the Windows interface. It then cuts back to 1997, when the two former adversaries are teaming up again.

Neither company is impressed with the film, which will be broadcast on the TNT channel.

Microsoft spokesman John Pinette says: "I have seen it and our general response is, 'Hey, it's a made-for-TV movie' that says about enough.

"The people involved have said they have taken some historical licence. It is just unfortunate that parts of it are not accurate."

Apple spokesman Greg Jones said: "It's a non-issue for us. We sell computers."

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