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Pirates of Silicon Valley


Working with your podmates, provide substantial answers to some of the following questions. Select a set of questions with which you can develop a theme; identify that theme; and prepare a website—nicely coded, validated, written, and illustrated—which develops your theme.

Ensure that each podmate’s name appears on the site and that all research material is properly credited. Each member of the quad should have her/his own copy of the site. Your teacher will post each pod’s site live on the Web.


  1. Name and describe briefly the principal technologies identified in this film.
  2. Identify the technological, economic, and social consequences of these technologies.
  3. Which of the principal technologies are in wide use today? Which have fallen out of favour? Which have rebounded? Which have been largely abandoned?
  4. Compare and contrast the leadership styles of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
  5. Compare and contrast the technological vision of Microsoft and Apple.
  6. Comment on the relationship among technology, commerce, and artistry in the development of the principal technologies.
  7. What was gained by the rivalry between these two men and their firms? What was lost?
  8. How would our world differ if Bill Gates had failed? If Steve Jobs had failed?
  9. Explain the metaphor behind the “1984” commercial.
  10. Compare and contrast command-line and graphical user interfaces. Illustrate with specific examples.
  11. Where are command-line and graphical user interfaces still in use? Illustrate with specific examples.
  12. What does the film have to say about intellectual property?
  13. How has the film affected your thoughts about intellectual property?
  14. What other significant issues are raised or addressed by the film? What significant issues are missing?
  15. What is your impression of the film as history, education, or entertainment?


The ad ran only once, but that was sufficient for us to learn why “1984 [wouldn’t] be like 1984”: into the world of text-based, command-driven human-computer interfaces, like MS-DOS, Apple Computer Inc. (now just Apple Inc.), introduced us to Macintosh. Later that year, Apple bought all of the advertising in the special fall U.S. election issue of Newsweek—the details of which make for some interesting reading.

Photo credits

DVD cover: 10 Geek Movies You Must See!, <>. Retrieved 2011-09-27.

1984 frame: 1984, <>. Retrieved 2011-09-27. > Education Commons

[This page last updated 2020-12-23 at 12h45 Toronto local time.]