Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires (1996) is a documentary film written and hosted by Robert X. Cringely (Mark Stephens) and produced for British television by Oregon Public Broadcasting. The title refers to the 1984 film, Revenge of the Nerds, and the documentary is based on Cringely's book, Accidental Empires. The three-part film first premiered on PBS in June 1996. The full transcripts of the documentary can be found at the PBS Web site.The documentary chronicles the rise of the personal computer/home computer beginning in the 1970s with the Altair 8800, Apple I and Apple II and VisiCalc. It continues through the IBM PC and Apple Macintosh revolution through the 1980s and the mid 1990s, ending at the beginning of the Dot-com boom with the release of Windows 95.
It includes interviews with many influential figures in the PC industry, including Apple's Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Microsoft's Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, and Oracle's Larry Ellison.
Episode 2: Riding the Bear
- Compaq's successful reverse-engineering of the IBM PC, which led to many competitors producing IBM clones that undercut IBM's own offering. While IBM was one of the key companies that fostered the growth of the PC industry and initially dominated it, by 1990 it had lost its lead.
- IBM's unsuccessful attempt to recapture a dominant share in the PC market with the PS/2 and OS/2, the latter being the successor to MS-DOS. The proprietary nature of the PS/2 and exclusivity of OS/2 was intended to drive sales of IBM's own hardware and made it difficult for other manufacturers of PC compatibles to compete.
- Microsoft had originally profited from the initial success of the IBM PC. It did even better with the proliferation of clones as IBM's own market share shrank, so Microsoft saw no business sense in following IBM's lead. Microsoft saw more potential in developing Windows, a project it pursued parallel to its cooperating with IBM on OS/2, and Windows 3.0 proved to be a great success (along with MS-DOS) bundled with new PCs. This led to the split between the two titans, with Microsoft setting the standard for PCs, while IBM concentrated on its mainframe and services businesses.