Earlier this month, Bill Gates got emotional talking about Steve Jobs.
“He and I, in a sense, grew up together,” Gates said. “We were within a year of the same age, and we were kind of naively optimistic and built big companies. And every fantasy we had about creating products and learning new things — we achieved all of it. And most of it as rivals. But we always retained a certain respect and communication, including even when he was sick.”
There’s no relationship in history like that of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
As partners and rivals, they built the personal computing industry with two totally different styles.
Jobs was a working-class kid from California who believed in tight control over all products, and put a premium on design.
Bill Gates was an upper class kid from Washington who believed in open products, and didn’t worry too much about great design.
“Each one thought he was smarter than the other one, but Steve generally treated Bill as someone who was slightly inferior, especially in matters of taste and style,” said early Macintosh employee Andy Hertzfield in Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs bio. He added, “Bill looked down on Steve because he couldn’t actually program.”
Gates quote inspired us to take a look back at some of the best quotes from Gates and Jobs about each other in Isaacson’s book to get a deeper sense of what the men really thought of each other.
Jobs on Gates: 'He'd be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger'
Gates on Jobs: 'He really never knew much about technology, but he had an amazing instinct for what works'
Jobs: 'Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he's more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology'
This was a theme for Jobs. He also said, 'They just ripped us off completely, because Gates has no shame'
To which Gates replied: 'If he believes that, he really has entered into one of his own reality distortion fields.'
Gates said this to Amelio: 'You really think Steve Jobs has anything there? I know his technology, it's nothing but a warmed-over UNIX, and you'll never be able to make it work on your machines. Don't you understand that Steve doesn't know anything about technology? He's just a super salesman. I can't believe you're making such a stupid decision ... He doesn't know anything about engineering, and 99% of what he says and thinks is wrong. What the hell are you buying that garbage for?'
Gates in an internal email: 'Steve Jobs' ability to focus in on a few things that count, get people who get user interface right, and market things as revolutionary are amazing things'
Gates again internally on iPod: 'I think we need some plan to prove that, even though Jobs has us a bit flat footed again, we can move quick and both match and do stuff better.'
Gates on the iPad: 'It's a nice reader, but there's nothing on the iPad I look at and say, Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it.'
'The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste, they have absolutely no taste. I don't mean that in a small way. I mean that in a big way, in the sense that they don't think of original ideas and they don't bring much culture into their product.'
Gates on closed models like Apple: 'The integrated approach works well when Steve is at the helm. But it doesn't mean it will win many rounds in the future.'
Jobs on the open model: 'Of course, his fragmented model worked, but it didn't make really great products. It produced crappy products.'
Jobs on Microsoft today: 'They've clearly fallen from their dominance. They've become mostly irrelevant ... I don't think anything will change at Microsoft as long as Ballmer is running it.'
'Bill likes to portray himself as a man of the product, but he's really not. He's a businessperson. Winning business was more important than making great products. He ended up the wealthiest guy around, and if that was his goal, then he achieved it. But it's never been my goal, and I wonder, in the end, if it was his goal. I admire him for the company he built--it's impressive--and I enjoyed working with him. He's bright and actually has a good sense of humour.'