The movie starts by revealing the core of Steve Job’s personality. He speaks to the camera saying, "I don't want you to think of this as just a film - some process of converting electrons and magnetic impulses into shapes and figures and sounds - no. Listen to me. We're here to make a dent in the universe. Otherwise, why even be here? We're creating a completely new consciousness, like an artist or a poet. We're rewriting the history of human thought with what we're doing. That's how you have to think of this." His best friend, Steve "the Woz" Wozniak follows this with a narration describing how everything Steve Jobs ever did was something "between a religious experience and some sort of crusade."
Both the opening lines and the narration are spoken over the back drop of the filming of Apples 1984 Super Bowl commercial. Final touches and preparations where made before the commercial was aired. The filming of the commercial fades to the actual ad where slave-looking individuals bow before a Big Brother figure preaching from a giant TV screen. Then, from the back of the auditorium and being chased by storm-troopers, a lone woman runs to the screen and hurls a hammer to the screen, shattering and making it explode.
The movie then transitions to a stage thirteen years later, where Steve Jobs is just announcing "the business deal that will turn Apple around," to a gathered audience, and introduces the other protagonist in the movie, Bill Gates who is currently being projected, via live feed, to a screen looming over the audience, in a very Big Brother manner, a not-so-subtle portent for events in the movie.
The scene cuts to the University of Berkley campus, 1971, amidst a tear gas and students rioting, a young Jobs and Wozniak dash to safety. Once away from the crowd Jobs scornfully says, "Those guys think they're revolutionaries. They're not revolutionaries, we are." Wozniak resumes his narration, relaying that Jobs was never like, "you or me, he always saw things differently, he saw the meaning of the universe."
Jobs and Woz's first entrepreneurial scheme was the development and selling of "Blue Boxes", one of the earliest phone line crackers that allowed anybody to call anywhere for free. After almost getting busted Woz decided to try building something that wouldn't land them in jail, a "computer". They have their first taste of fame as a reporter takes a picture of them when it catches on fire.
Bill Gates' (played by Anthony Michael Hall) beginnings are just as unassuming. His story starts when he is a Harvard student more interested in poker than classes. However, for Bill and his friend Paul Allen (played by Josh Hopkins), there is one thing more important than poker or even Playboys, and that is, of course, computers. In following an ad in a trade magazine with some fast talking by Bill, and their collective genius, Bill and Paul are hired to start writing a program language for the new ALTAIR computer.
At the 1976 Berkley campus, Homebrew Computer Club, Jobs and Woz unveil their latest computer. It is obvious that while it is Wozniak's genius that built the computer, it was Jobs' genius that sells it. During these scenes they reveal Steve Jobs' near obsessive desire to wipe out "the enemy", IBM. However, his dreams of guerrilla warfare victory over IBM, followed by world domination, is all but dashed by Wozniak as he divulges that because of a contract he signed with Hewlett-Packard, anything he invents, they can take. Fortunately the executives at the company do not have the vision of Steve, Woz, or even Bill as they pass on the "home computer" because, "This gadget is for ordinary people, what on earth would ordinary people want with computers?" While that was an initial victory for them, it seemed that bankers and business men had the same opinion and months went by as they were repeatedly turned down for a loan. However, Jobs was undaunted and persevered when venture capitalist Mike Markkula...
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