August "Gus" Gorman is unemployed and down on his luck, not seeming to find long term jobs. Having exhausted his welfare benefits, he sees an ad for a computer programming school and enrolls. This proves beneficial, as he shows an uncanny knack for information technology and graduates, finally managing to get a data entry job at Webscoe Industries. However, Gorman's experience with honest work is less rewarding than he had hoped, as he balks at the paltry figure of his first paycheck, which is $143.80½. But, once he'd learned that all of the other ½ cents are left floating around inside the megacorporation's database, Gorman hacked into the company's computer system and funneled them all into his next check, accruing the amount of $85,789.90, (a crime that would be later be known in slang as "salami slicing").
Having gained the attention of Webscoe's owner Ross Webster (by driving a red sportscar to work one morning), Gorman is given the choice of either going to jail or helping Webster gain economic control over the world, starting with the coffee industry. Accepting Webster's ultimatum, Gorman creates a massive storm to wipe out Colombia's coffee crops (Webster's primary target) with the use of a weather satellite. After Superman disperses the storm before any real damage can be done, Ross Webster realizes he has an enemy. Gorman is now charged with synthesizing Kryptonite to destroy Superman. Chemical analysis allows Gorman to determine the various properties of Kryptonite except a small portion that is "unknown". He decides to substitute tar (inspired by a pack of cigarettes he is smoking), which creates a crystal that looks like Kryptonite. Disguised as Army general, Gorman crashes a celebration in Smallville honoring Superman, using Superman's recent heroism in preventing an industrial disaster at a nearby chemical plant, to present him with the Kryptonite. Superman accepts, thinking it is some rare jewel, and Gorman and Vera are dismayed to see it has no immediate effect. However, the fake Kryptonite starts to affect Superman mentally, gradually causing his character to degenerate.
Suddenly sick of Webster's megalomaniacal attitude, Gorman demands that Webster give him the means to build a particular supercomputer of his own design. When Ross threatens jail, Gorman counters that should he be imprisoned, he will no longer be of any use to Ross. Frustrated by Gorman as well, Webster tells him to deactivate all of the gas stations in North America and reroute the oil tankers to the middle of the Atlantic. In exchange, Webster will build the computer. Reluctantly, Gorman plays his part in the new scheme.
Once the tankers had been diverted and the supercomputer completed, Gorman had a change of heart. By the time Superman made his way to Webster's hideout in the Grand Canyon, a tense battle ensued between him and Gorman's new Ultimate Computer. Gorman decides to help destroy his creation, giving Superman a chance to employ the use of a corrosive acid to the computer's foundation, causing an explosion. Afterwards, Superman has Ross, Vera and Lorelei handed over to the authorities. He flies away from the Grand Canyon cradling Gus, who wonders where they are going. Superman lands in a coal mine in West Virginia, where he takes a piece of coal and uses his super strength to transform it into a diamond. Feeling Gus has learned his lesson, Superman asks the miners if they can use any new employees, then flies off. The surprised miners say they have no openings for miners at the moment, but they have been looking for an office worker for a long time, as none of them know how to use a computer, offering that to Gus. Startled by what just happened in Arizona, Gus reacts with shock at the word "computer" and declines. He is last seen asking for directions to the nearest bus station, presumably to buy a ticket home.
In the original version of Superman III, Gus Gorman was to be a disguise for the supervillain Brainiac in which he could live among humans. Under his Gus persona, Brainiac would then set about his evil deeds using the supercomputer which appears at the end of the film. The filmakers rejected this idea, instead using the Gus Gorman character for comic relief.