May 31, 2007
If you didn't get a chance to watch today's historic interview between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, you should. Finally seeing these two computer industry giants on stage interacting with each other was fascinating and at times even a little touching.
To put some context on today's meeting, watch this highlight reel of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates in 1983 and 1997. It's hard to believe, but the last time these two guys were on stage together was in 1983 for the "Macintosh Dating Game". That's why today's interview was so notable-- historic, even.
It's clear that these two long-term rivals have a lot of respect for each other. They might even be friends. They've certainly been through a lot together in the last thirty years.
Bill Gates: It's been fun to work together. I actually kind of miss some of the people who aren't around anymore. You know, people come and go in this industry. It's nice when somebody sticks around and they have some context of all the things that have worked and not worked. The industry gets all crazy about some new thing, you know, like, there's always this paradigm of the company that's successful is going to go away and stuff like that. It's nice to have people seeing the waves and waves of that and yet, when it counted, to take the risk to bring in something new.
Steve Jobs: You know, when Bill and I first met each other and worked together in the early days, generally, we were both the youngest guys in the room, right? Individually or together. I'm about six months older than he is, but roughly the same age. And now when we're working at our respective companies, I don't know about you, but I'm the oldest guy in the room most of the time. And that's why I love being here. And, you know, I think of most things in life as either a Bob Dylan or a Beatles song, but there's that one line in that one Beatles song, "you and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead." And that's clearly true here.
In a way, I feel like I've been tagging along with Gates and Jobs throughout their storied history, through the ups and downs, through the ebb and flow of the computer industry. Their history feels like our history, my history. These two guys have been my role models since the day I first booted a computer. Everyone I know has owned an Apple computer, or run Microsoft software-- or both-- at some point in their lives. It's unavoidable. I grew up with the microcomputer, and the microcomputer as we know it today is largely due to the influence of both Jobs and Gates.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
"while Linux takes over the world"
Please. I'm as much a Linux geek as the next guy, but take over the world? It's been "taking over the world" for 10-12 years now. And, what's the desktop market share today? 3%. Granted, that may change now that Dell is selling Ubuntu systems but I don't see it taking over the entire desktop industry! Dignify, indeed! However, the embedded world is another matter! Servers, too, but it's been a LONG time since I've lived in that world.
Back on target, er, topic. I grew up with computers. From my VIC20 to the Apple IIe to the Apple IIgs (sprinkle the Coleco ADAM in there, along a Tandy or two) to the PC (and I never went back to Apple). I couldn't imagine my life without computers. I hardly remember it since I started using the VIC20 in 6th grade.
I, owe a lot to Gates and Jobs -- much more than just respect.
You guys make me feel so much better!
People around me think I'm strange because I work on a computer all day, go home and play on a computer until night.
I too grew up with computers, I started with an IBM 286. I still remember seeing QBASIC on a computer in the JR. High Computer Lab and it changed my life.
What always seems incredible is that the whole microcomputer history has occured during our lifetimes. Can you imagine a world without computers? Yet most of us can *remember* a world without computers. We've played with Pong, with the VCS 2600, with the Ataris and Amigas and Apples. We've seen DOS, System 1, Windows 3.11, System 7, Mac OS 9, Windows 95, Mac OS X, Linux... This has all happened during our lifetimes. It's not like cars or airplanes or trains, which took a long time to get to where they are now.
Jeff, this is one fantastic post. Your feelings echo mine with more accuracy than you could imagine. I have so much respect for those 2 men and how they both have fundamentally altered my life...all of our lives. It's staggering.
And LKM, that is also a very profound thought. Computers have changed the way I do so many things, and you are right, I remember clearly a time without computers.
How cool is that?
I don't get it man.. it's always Gates and Jobs that shaped the industry and do these historic stage parades... why is Woz always left out ? I mean, it's not just you, Jeff, but the *whole* industry seems to put Jobs and Gates on a different level than Woz. Granted, Woz was the tech guy (geek, we'd say, and he'd be proud of it), while Steve (and Bill) were (primarily) the businessmen.
Does that imply that the world of computing as we know it today was shaped by the business-oriented people ? I don't mean to minimize or deny their impact, but I just wonder if, without them, computing would have been much different...
Well said, Jeff.
My reaction was largely the same. My first language was Apple BASIC on a IIe, and I've scarcely let go of the keyboard since. It's amazing to look back on how much we've all been through, collectively, and a bit humbling to see the grace and camaraderie of both Jobs and Gates as they interacted and shared their thoughts and memories on some of the same topics.
I've seen a lot of references to Jobs' Beatles quote, but I found Gates' comments about how much he admires Job's innate creative vision to be at least as disarming.
'Fascinating' was a word I used to describe it elsewhere as well.
(P.S. LKM, please don't forget OS/2!)
I'm sorry, I guess I'm going to have to be the downer on this one.
I'm far too young (24) to really remember 'the long road' for these guys. Don't get me wrong, whether or not I enjoy their product, I'm not the least bit disillusioned as to what these guys meant (and mean) to the industry, and to the fact that I have a job right now to be neglecting to post this right now.
That being said, I have /never/ owned any Apple hardware, nor any Microsoft software.
I was also incredibly happy to see these two together, I'm planning on finding time to sit through the whole thing this weekend.
For those who aren't familiar about the history of these two and some of the industry back story, I suggest checking out Triumph of the Nerds as Jeff had pointed out a few months ago. (http://www.netflix.com/Movie/Triumph_of_the_Nerds/70014652)
Its a bit cheesy at parts but for a young guy like myself, it cleared up a lot of the history (even if it does stop mid-90's).
How nice, you almost make me cry. I grew with a Macintosh so there's my Apple in my story. This guys are the ones that created the industry, is not what the mean to it. It definitely was something that was going to happen eventually, a computer in every home, this guys just were there at the right time and had great ideas, but I'm pretty sure they didn't know how far it would go, they were just thinking about money.
Anyway, history could have been very different if, for example, Apple released MacOS as free, or SunOS was free and Sparcs would be sold as personal computers, not only as workstations. So many things could have happened, but I think that there are more important people to the influence of computers the way we know them today, like Wozniak. But it's nice to see these two guys wasting time while Linux takes over the world :)
One of my early memories at school is of playing olympic decathlon which was a game by microsoft on my Apple IIe.
Jobs was always the Marketing man, not the programmer ..
Gates was a bad programmer and a middling marketing person
Woz was the programmer, hardware tech etc ..
IBM designed the PC that Dos and Windows (and OS/2) run on ...
Gates and Jobs got lucky, kudos to them for selling us other peoples ideas but ...
So, if the two most important people in computing history are marketing men, does that make them less important, or does it mean you made the wrong career choice?
I met Bill Gates and shook his hand at a meeting of the Baltimore Computer Club way back in 1979(?). He had flown there (coach--all Microsoft employees flew coach then) just to give a presentation. He seemed little different than anyone else at that meeting...
Quoted for emphasis.
There is no doubt they made monumental strategic maneuvers that kept their companies on top of the business game they were in. But when it comes to all the influences on the microcomputer as we know it today, I see them more as scrambling to adapt and take advantage of the changing technological landscape rather than singlehandedly driving it through some mystical vision.
It's very funny to see the term "marketing" misused when "visionary" is the correct term. Neither of them is a "marketing" guy, but they are both "visionary leaders." And for those that want to argue about the term visionary in the context of Gates and Jobs, here's the Oxford definition:
"thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom"
Being a visionary isn't entirely about coming up with grand ideas. A key component is being able to see an opportunity and know that it's one to focus on because of its ability to shape the future. Wisdom is as or more important than imagination to a visionary.
Anyone who studies the history of the PC industry objectively will come to the conclusion that Gates and Jobs are visionaries. People like Wozniak and Allen, while extremely talented, lacked the driving vision to succeed on their own. Woz himself has admitted that on more than one occasion, including where he describes how he had to be convinced to leave the safety of HP for the startup that became Apple.
Without intending to spark a fanboy debate, Jobs is clearly the more visionary of the two. While both he and Gates stand on the backs of many talented people (and they acknowledge that in the video), a second act like the one Jobs has orchestrated since returning to Apple takes a visionary leader to achieve. Gates was never put into the position of having to reinvent himself for a 2nd act and has been able to ride his early success to this day.
I've been an Apple guy all my life, since the days programs were loaded onto Apple II computers from casettes (my first 'tecnhical' experimentation was sneaking a casette home in 1st grade to listen to how it 'told' the computer what to do). There was a 'dark' period where I didn't own a Mac when it no longer seemed a viable platform and my programming job required Windows. But since the release of Mac OS X 10.0, I have been using a Mac nearly 100% at both home and work. Now I only occasionally start Windows within Parallels on my Intel Macs when something work related requires it.
Wow! The fanboy-ism just doesn't stop, does it? "What about Woz?", "Bill Gates wasn't a programmer.", "scrambling to adapt...", "they're both marketing men", "But it's nice to see these two guys wasting time while Linux takes over the world".
First "Woz" and Paul Allen have both received their share of accolades, respect - and no shortage of money. As have many, many, many other people who helped shape the industry. Watch the interview. Gates and Jobs both show respect for each other and the contributions of a lot of people.
Have you ever tried to release software WITHOUT marketing? There were a LOT of companies when these two hit the scene filled and RUN by world-class programmers - how did they fare? Believe it or not - it even takes "marketing" to give away free and open source products.
I thought the interview was great. You can "fanboy" all you want about how they stupidly lucked into the success they were granted, but you can't dismiss the impact they've had on shaping the industry. Even in the past 5 years (though to a lesser degree than in the early years) these two have had a huge impact on the industry.
Had it not been them would someone else have done it. Probably. But they didn't and neither did you, so channel your jealousy into something more constructive - like being the next Microsoft or Apple or Google or whatever.
...and I'm not even going to dignify "while Linux takes over the world."
I don't mean to rain on anyone's parade and Gates and Jobs certainly deserve a lot of credit for their accomplishments but remember, they stand on the shoulders of giants.
Admiral Grace Hopper - Cobol
John von Neumann - ENIAC
Tommy Flowers - Colossus
Herman Hollerith - Hollerith Card
Joseph Marie Jacquard - Programmable Loom
Charles Babbage - Analytical Engine
Lady Ada Byron Lovelace - First Programmer
The list goes on and on and on...
is it possible to download that stuff somewhere. So tha I can watch it offline...? thx
What I have learned so far in life is that you can have the best product out there, but if you dont know how to market it, this product will stay in the top shelf gathering dust and then in the bargain bin.
This is very applicable to Apple and Microsoft.
Mr. Gates and Mr. Jobs saw greatness in others' work, need how to blend it together to appeal the masses and that is why they are as successful as they are today!
Ever since I was a little kid and a proud nerd, I was very fascinated with computers. I programmed in Basic at age 8 and owned a few computers and tech toys (like the archaic tape deck for commodore 64, remember that? or how about ADAM? and TRASH 80). Anyway, there was a now defunct men of power magazine called "M" back in 1987 or so which chronicled the rise of Jobs in one issue and then Gates in another.
Yes, many do believe they were the original creators of modenr computer age.. including me..
What these men did is that they recognize a need, shared their vision, made it very enticing for all, and most of all connect this need as a total necessity and that only they can provide the answer.
This is applicable to any product but Mr. Jobs and Gates knew how to mesh this together and not only made a great contribution to today's society but revolutionize this generation with applicable use of technology.
I feel like I should go out and buy a Mac and sit it right next to my PC and link them together in eternal bliss. :P
Cheers and respect for both Jobs and Gates! The world wouldn't be the same without them both.
This is great. One thing that is interesting to me is that these are both software titans. Microsoft makes thier money through licenses, Apple makes money by selling devices that have thier software on it.
But I am in the process of reinstalling everything on my new laptop drive. What's amazing to me is that there are at least 15 software packages I've needed to install to get back to life... and all but 3 of them are free! Meanwhile, much of my computing life is completely online with iGoogle, various websites I am "part of", etc.
It will be interesting to see where this all goes..
I always feel kind of "middle of the road" type thing. I'm not quite old enough to be around with the punch cards, but I am young enough to remember a time when there was no computer in the house (minus my TI 49/9A) and begging and pleading for a 386SX-14 when I reached Junior High.
I'm the generation that "grew up" with computers, my kids I think were practically born with a computer in their mouth.
It is nice to have a couple of shoulders to stand on and see what the future will bring.
What about all we owe to Bell Labs UNIX, and, especailly, Berekly BSD?
What happened to universities innovating?
Why are they not doing it now?
I wonder, if we sent the computer age back 20 years to CLI's and USENET, if we'd be doing more now. It's a shame most don't know what a CLI is anymore.
(NOTE: I'm mostly speaking for my generation here. I was born in the mid 90's)