I just finished watching the series “Triumph of the Nerds” on DVD. While I have seen parts of the documentary over the years this is the first time I watched all three parts straight through. This series, which is about the invention of the personal computer, the formation of a fledgling computer industry, and the key players in the new age of information, is quite simply amazing. I cannot recommend this documentary enough!
Anyone who has ever wondered how the PC came into being, who invented the Graphical User Interface (hint: Xerox), how Apple and Microsoft got their start, or how IBM was beat by a bunch of teenage nerds should run out and rent this documentary. It was filmed in 1996 so it doesn’t cover the dot com implosion and doesn’t mention Linux. But from the Altair up until Windows 95 it is accurate, intriguing, interesting, and epic. The story is retold in the participant’s own words, including interviews with Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and every other major player.
I can’t wait for Robert X. Cringely, the author of the series, to shoot another epic covering the rise and fall of the dot com. Maybe he will even cover the Linux Revolution, although that history is still in the process of being written. With almost 10 years passing since this series was filmed, there is a lot of new computer history to document, but “Triumph of the Nerds” will definitely give you a deep understanding of how the computer revolution was started, in an interesting and entertaining way.