Friday, October 1, 2010

12 notable movies about the personal computer and Internet industries and their impact

In honor of today’s release of “The Social Network,” about the founding of social networking website Facebook, here are 12 notable movies related to the computer and Internet industries.
Notice I say notable instead of good or bad. Each of these films has something to say about the early days of personal computers and the Internet and their impact on our culture. Some are entertaining and informative; others not so much.
They’re all either documentaries or based on true stories.

Triumph of the Nerds (1996)

“Triumph of the Nerds” is Robert Cringely’s in-depth documentary on the early days of the personal computer industry. The PBS series aired in three episodes (“Impressing Their Friends,” “Riding the Bear” and “Great Artists Steal”) and includes interviews with Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Apple’s Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, among others.
Rotten Tomatoes audience rating: 83% positive reviews.

Nerds 2.0.1: A Brief History of the Internet (1998)

In this follow-up to “Triumph of the Nerds,” Cringely delves into the history of the Internet. Among those interviewed are Microsoft’s Gates, Netscape’s Mark Andreesen, and AOL’s Steve Case.

Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999)

“Pirates of Silicon Valley” is a made-for-TV docudrama based on the book “Fire in the Valley: The Making of The Personal Computer” by Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine. It shows the rise of the personal computer and the rivalry between Apple and Microsoft.
Anthony Michael Hall (“Weird Science”) played Bill Gates and Noah Wyle (“E.R.”) played Steve Jobs.
Rotten Tomatoes critics rating: 86% positive.

Startup.com (2001)

“Startup.com” captures the dot-com era boom and bust. The documentary focuses on startup GovWorks and the entrepreneurs behind it. It shows their struggles to raise capital from New York’s Silicon Alley and investment communities and build a business around a Web site to facilitate citizen interaction with government agencies.
Rotten Tomatoes critics rating: 92% positive.

E-Dreams (2002)

The documentary “E-Dreams” chronicles the dramatic growth and collapse of Internet startup Kozmo.com, which provided online shopping and one-hour delivery of everything from video games and movies to food and coffee.
It shows the experiences of co-founders Joseph Park and Yong Kang, two young investment bankers swept up in the dot-com frenzy.
Rotten Tomatoes critics rating: 60% positive.

Revolution OS (2002)

“Revolution OS” is a documentary that tells the stories of hackers who rebelled against Microsoft’s dominance to create Linux and the Open Source movement. Those interviewed include software engineer Linus Torvalds, who became the chief architect of the Linux kernel, and Richard Stallman, who initiated the free software movement.
Rotten Tomatoes critics rating: 43% positive.

We Live In Public (2008)

“We Live In Public” is a documentary on the life of dot-com entrepreneur Josh Harris, and his exploits over the last decade, including his surveillance-as-art project on the Internet.
Rotten Tomatoes critics rating: 84% positive.

Welcome to Macintosh (2008)

“Welcome to Macintosh” is a documentary that looks at how Apple has changed the world with the Macintosh computer and other products. It explores Apple from the early days of the Apple I to the company’s Macs circa 2008.
Rotten Tomatoes audience rating: 33% positive.

Rip! A Remix Manifesto (2008)

In the documentary “Rip!: A Remix Manifesto,” Web activist and filmmaker Brett Gaylor explores issues of copyright in the information age. He shows how mash-up artists are influencing popular culture and the media landscape.
Rotten Tomatoes critics rating: 33% positive.

MacHeads (2009)

“MacHeads” is a short documentary (54 minutes) that explores the fanaticism that surrounds the Apple brand. It features interviews with Mac evangelists and members of the Mac community.
Rotten Tomatoes audience rating: 43% positive.

Middle Men (2010)

This drama is a highly fictionalized account of the early days of Internet porn. It’s loosely based on the true story of Christopher Mallick, one of the producers of the movie. Mallick still owns an Internet billing company. It stars Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi and James Caan.
Rotten Tomatoes critics rating: 41% positive.

The Social Network (2010)

“The Social Network,” starring Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake, tells the story of the founders of the social networking website Facebook.
Rotten Tomatoes critics rating: 98% positive.

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