Like many nerds of a certain age, I watched and was enraptured by the PBS/Channel 4 TV miniseries ‘Triumph of the Nerds‘ when it was first broadcast on UK TV 1995.
Presented by former InfoWorld tech columnist Robert X. Cringley (not his real name) and based on his own book, Accidental Empires, from a few years previously, it was an inside look into the history of the modern PC from a Silicon Valley perspective. Interviewing most of the major players at the time like Bill Gates and Steve Balmer of Microsoft, Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, their nemesis John Scully, as well as many unsung characters and other industry insiders and the nerds that used the products and built their dreams around them.
Admittedly the documentary is looking quite dated now with its pastel tones, focus on the buoldup to the release of Windows 95 and the proliferation of chunky beige boxes onscreen but it’s always a pleasantly nostalgic look into what is these days seen as the early days of the home PC. The VHS/DVD boxed set that was published shortly after broadcast by PBS is now sadly out of print but thankfully it’s available on YouTube for all to enjoy.
The lengthy interview with a bitter post-Apple Steve Jobs, was recently discovered by Cringley after Steve’s death and had a short cinema release as Steve Jobs: the Lost Interview and in itself is an interesting insight, though some have pointed out that the timing of it’s release seemed somewhat of a cash-in on grief.
The show was followed up a few years later by another miniseries entitled Nerds 2.0.1: A Brief History of the Internet, which is an interesting insight into the very early days of the WWW.