“He has never known much about technology”: what Bill Gates thought of Steve Jobs (and vice versa)

Yes, there was a time when Apple was financially vulnerable and needed Microsoft as a partner. But, for Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and his company represented a kind of nemesis, the rival to beat, the incarnation of evil.. That enemy which, as the saying goes, keep even closer than your own friends. Many cross statements arose from that relationship, some were mere poisoned darts, messages, others were authentic accusations, insults and threats.

Steve Jobs, despite our regret, was the main instigator of this guerrilla. He didn’t mince words. Bill Gates always maintained a more restrained profileHe knew how to play his cards with the usual courtesy. Although she was not far behind either, as we will see later.

From Steve Jobs to Bill Gates

Partners and rivals, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs grew up together. But the tech industry tore them apart for the sake of their own ways. And Steve Jobs was not going to be intimidated.

The first distance is marked by the breasts where they were raised: Jobs was the son of a Syrian immigrant and a biology professor, Joanne Schieble. Given up for adoption to a working California family, his story was not an easy one. He was in the right place and time, but he never swam in bills. Bill Gates, for his part, was the youngest of the house, the third to inherit the noble name of the dynasty William Henry Gates. Washington’s upper class was much more conservative, educated; it was also less risky in its mercantile movements.

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This could be one of the triggers for that fierce enmity. In ‘Make Something Wonderful, the biographical book written by Walter Isaacson, there are some aggressive statements such as the following:

Bill has no imagination and has never invented anything, which is why I think he is more comfortable doing philanthropy than technology. […]. He has simply stolen other people’s ideas.

The following is a story duly documented by Andy Hertzfeld on the web Folklore. This was the most aggressive clash we can trace, when Jobs hired Microsoft to be the first developer of third-party application software for the Macintosh. A top-secret project that ended up regular: Gates stuck with the Xerox API to develop his own graphical interface before his rival. that was windows.

When Steve found out, he spat “get Gates here immediately.” And it was quite literal. Gates was surrounded by several Apple employees and when Jobs arrived he started with his harangue: “You are robbing us! I trusted you, and now you’re stealing from us!”, to which Gates replied, “I think, rather, we’re both facing this rich neighbor named Xerox, and we break into his house to steal his TV, and then we see that you already have it. you’ve stolen before.” Well, they say that whoever robs a thief…

The feuds lasted a lifetime: when Microsoft was floundering under Steve Ballmer, Jobs was happy to retaliate by recalling that they had fallen out. “made almost irrelevant”. Years later he would come to sentence him with something of which, curiously, Tim Cook is also accused: «(Bill Gates) is a businessman, not a product man. Bill likes to portray himself as the man of his product, but he’s not. He is a business man. Making a profit was more important than making great products.”

A rivalry that dragged on until the end of his days, hinting that Microsoft’s legacy is somewhat outdated: «“The only problem with Microsoft is that they simply don’t have taste. They do not put any passion. And I don’t mean something in particular, but in general, in a big way, in the sense that they don’t think of original ideas, and they don’t include culture in their products.

From Bill Gates to Steve Jobs


But be careful because Gates was not far behind either. One of the most common jokes revolved around Steve Jobs’s inability to carry out his own plans, not having a formal education or simply being a first-rate trickster. “He’s never known much about technology, but he had an excellent instinct about what worked”in reference to that lack of knowledge about programming that Jobs suffered from.

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Gates spent years exchanging internal emails where he showed genuine admiration for his enemy, but there was a time when love was out of the question. Regarding the purchase of NeXT, we found ourselves in one of the most tense moments in both races. These are the words that he would dedicate to her, also collected in his book and documented by fortune«Steve acted in mode Pied Piper of Hamelin, proclaiming how the Mac will change the world and overloading people with more and more work, with incredible tensions and complex personal relationships. Gates actually had to bite the dust. He wanted to get NeXT but in the end Apple ended up buying it.

the final reconciliation


However, behind that mask of mutual contempt, perhaps spurred on by successes and defeats, by the insane industrial competitiveness and their corporate roles, there was room for admiration. Bill Gates was aware that Steve Jobs was different, someone with a keen eye and “the way he does things is just different, magical».

After Jobs’ death, his widow, Laurene Powell, phoned Bill Gates to clarify some of the harsh statements contained in the official biography. She said to him: “Look, This biography does not reflect the reality of the mutual respect you felt».

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In fact, Jobs kept next to his bed The last letter it got from the father of Windows. When he was asked about the past, Gates dismissed him by confessing that “we have always enjoyed talking to each other. He would throw some things in my face, you know, some harsh things ». In that rivalry they found strength and encouragement to thrive: they were better at being rivals than just being friends.


As it was, Steve Jobs’ worst words were saved for Google, another direct competitor. As stated in his own biography, Jobs considered that Larry Page’s company dedicated itself to robbing them: “Google is a fucking copy of the iPhone.” The tantrum and aim of him by destroy android it did not bear fruit, as expected; however, the health of iOS is stronger than ever.

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We wish to give thanks to the author of this write-up for this remarkable material

“He has never known much about technology”: what Bill Gates thought of Steve Jobs (and vice versa)