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While watching John Woo's adaptation of Phil K. Dick's short story Paycheck (flash review : good movie, but such a waste of such a great story) I came to think that Allcom, the movie's gargantuan megacorporation whose boss wants to take over the world, was modelled after the Apple of the late 70's and early 80's, like it was portrayed in the brilliant, accurate movie Pirates of Silicon Valley. I kept telling myself I was a crazy geek for thinking the screenwriters of this popular blockbuster knew or cared about this relatively obscure period of recent history and actually wanted to include such a parallel. However, as the movie progressed, alarms in a part of my mind couldn't help but go off as semi obvious connections were put to the fore, such as :

  • The name of the company, Allcom : like Apple, it's a two-syllable word starting with an A.
  • The CEO of Allcom and villain of the movie (CEOs are always villains, aren't they?), James Rethrick (Aaron Eckhart), is a man with an ego the size of a small African country and a vision -- not unlike Steve Jobs.
  • Next we have his schoolbuddy the genius engineer, Michael Jennings (Ben Affleck), who is responsible for all the great products that made the company so powerful -- sounds familiar?
  • The difference in the two characters' outlook is made obvious during a discussion between them early in the movie. Rethrick says he wants to 'change the world' -- an explicit reference to Jobs' line to then-Pepsi CEO John Sculley that at Pepsi all he could accomplish is "selling more sugar water to kids" but if he joined him he could change the world. Meanwhile Jennings says he would rather 'save the world,' which would tie in well with Woz's current philanthropy work.

The main objection to that theory is that Allcom's livelihood depends mainly on reverse engineering competitors' products, which is closer to Microsoft's ballpark than Apple's -- even though it could be argued that Apple ripped their OS off the Xerox PARC as much as Microsoft ripped Windows 1.0 off Mac OS. Also, Allcom's theft-based business model is an integral part of Dick's story, so the screenwriters couldn't alter that to fit the (alleged) parallel.

That's all I got so far. On one hand I feel crazy for even thinking that a popular blockbuster could explicitly reference to the early history of personal computing but on the other hand those are too many coincidences for me to ignore.

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