Bill Gates: ‘I wrote Steve Jobs a letter as he was dying. He kept it by his bed’

“One of the few people to understand [Bill Gates’] compulsions was Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, who died of cancer in October. The two men’s long and stormy relationship has been chronicled in Jobs’s latest biography, but, until now, Gates has said little about their divisions – and their bonds,” Mary Riddell reports for The Telegraph. “‘Steve was an incredible genius who contributed immensely to the field I was in. We had periods, like the early Macintosh, when we had more people working on it than they did. And then we were competitors. The personal computers I worked on had a vastly higher [market] share than Apple until really the last five or six years, where Steve’s very good work on the Mac and on iPhones and iPads did extremely well. It’s quite an achievement, and we enjoyed each [other’s work].'”

MacDailyNews Take: Here’s Steve “enjoying” Gates’ work:

Riddell reports, “This tribute, part praise, part reminder of Gates’s dominance, is more tactful than the comments Jobs made in his lifetime. ‘He spent a lot of his time competing with me. There are lots of times when Steve said [critical] things about me. If you took the more harsh examples, you could get quite a litany.'”

“The atmosphere changed in 2007 when Gates left Microsoft to set up the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife,” Riddell reports. “‘Steve and I did an event together, and he couldn’t have been nicer… I got a fair bit of time with him in his last year.’ Some months before Jobs died, Gates paid him a long visit. ‘We spent literally hours reminiscing and talking about the future.’ Later, with his old adversary’s death imminent, he wrote to him. ‘I told Steve about how he should feel great about what he had done and the company he had built. I wrote about his kids, whom I had got to know.'”

Riddell reports, “That last gesture was not, he says, conciliatory. ‘There was no peace to make. We were not at war. We made great products, and competition was always a positive thing. There was no [cause for] forgiveness.’ After Jobs’s death, Gates received a phone call from his wife, Laurene. ‘She said; ‘Look, this biography really doesn’t paint a picture of the mutual respect you had.’ And she said he’d appreciated my letter and kept it by his bed.'”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]


63 Comments

    1. I am not on the same page with you, Sterling. Bill and his team accomplished quite a bit and made a lot of money. But it would be a big stretch for me to call Gates a “great guy.” I can’t go that far.

      1. Thinking he was surely headed for Hell for all his thievery, cheating and misery he thrust upon the world via his Microslothian Empire, Bill began to donate huge sums of money to buy his way into Heaven before it was too late. 😉

  1. The thing that really bothers me when Gates speaks about Jobs is that he can never, ever keep it about Jobs. He always has to work his “contributions” into the quote, like he always has to put his work and Microsoft’s legacy on the same plane as Apple.

    When you speak about Jobs, you’re not sharing company, Bill. You’re not in the same zip code, not even the same planet.

        1. Like jobs he built an environment where a lot of people built their ideas into products. Not gates directly but AJAX owes its roots to MS. There are plenty others if you aren’t to braindead to look.

        2. This craps getting as thick as the left/right arguments.

          How about low cost easy to use computers to the masses. Look at pre- win95 personal computer sales and then look at post Win95. Those PC helped this internet you are browsing really take off, remember Apple was late to the internet game and shipped IE to join in the party.

          Yeah, they played dirty, yeah it was buggy, but you cannot simple marginalize their contributions and pretend they had none when in fact they did. Apple clearly has the next round or two won, the nineties were not Apples finest hour.

    1. Neither person would have achieved what they did without the other. Both had great visions and they competed mightily in the same arena.

      Whenever great things happen in society, it is due to two intense individuals competing and trying to bets one another. Jobs and Gates were competitors and drove each other to new heights.

        1. Yes and no. I don’t think the early Mac would have been nearly as successful as it was, had it not had Microsoft Word and Excel available for it. Yes, there were alternatives, but I never really liked them. Microsoft had a great Mac team back then and Word and Excel really were great Mac applications that helped make the original Mac a good business tool.

          I was working at an Apple dealer in the mid-80’s, and I distinctly remember setting up many, many personal and business Macs with Word and Excel on them.

        2. So Apple were in no way dependent on Gates loan to Apple of a 150 million dollars and his agreement to continue making word for mac at a time when Apple was virtually bankrupt.

          You haven’t a clue what you are talking about and should be embarrassed.

          1. @Mike

            Sorry, Mike but that $150million from Microsoft was not a “Gates loan.” That whole 1997 Apple-Microsoft deal had many facets to it.The $150 million from Microsoft was for the purchase of Apple preferred stock – non-voting stock. in addition, there was a cross agreement between MS and Apple regarding intellectual property in which each shared some info with the other AND MS agreed to continue to develop MS Office for the Mac. The $150 million was not to keep Apple’s finances in good shape. Yes, they were financially bad shape but an infusion of $150 million into a multibillion dollar (even at that time) was only a drop in the bucket. What saved Apple was the classic belt-tightening that Steve Jobs did — trimmed expenses, getting rid of excessive products lines, etc. I agree that both Apple and MS “learned’ from each other but your history is fuzzy. Here’s a good article to read http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/08/4246/

      1. With all respect, let me disagree.
        IMHO, in a word without Jobs, Gates would had found someone else to rip off, and Microsoft’s products would be even crappier but still used by the immense majority.
        In a word without Gates the GUI would have taken longer (but not much) to reach the masses.

      1. maybe your just an oversensitive shmuck… I personally think that Gates hasn’t done a goddamn bit of actual “good in his entire goddaman weasely life…and I am definitively including the Bill and Melinda Gates FOundation bullshit… Study some history (or pretend you aren’t one of the weasely insiders, if you actually are one) and you will know that foundations are bullshit, top to bottom.

  2. I have to say, after reading the biography, I came away with more respect for Bill Gates. As strong a personality as Steve was, Bill Gates never allowed himself to be bullied and was immune to the RDF. As much as I respect SJ, I have to give Gates credit there.

  3. What if there were no Gates…?

    It might be that somehow Jobs work would have turned out not quite as well as it did.

    Competition does wonderful things for consumers.
    Crap goes away FAST.
    Cash to by quality goes down.
    Capability on all aspects of products go up rapidly.

    1. What if there were no Gates…?

      Someone else would have programmed the calculator for the first release of Mac OS.

      Otherwise, I consider Microsoft to have been a dire detriment to the computer community. Would that they’d just roll up and at long last die. I used to hold out hope for them, but no more.

      1. Actually the Mac OS calculator was written by Chris Espinosa who still is Apple employee No 8.
        The first work that Microsoft did for Apple was Applesoft BASIC which was crappy in comparison to Woz’s integer BASIC. Woz was too busy or too lazy to add floating point arithmetic to his interpreter. Jobs had to go to Microsoft which had a FP BASIC collecting dust on a shelf.
        Someone else (Digital Research comes to mind) would have programmed the FP BASIC or perhaps Jobs would have used his reality distortion field on Woz to convince him to get the job done.

  4. Steve Jobs deserves kudos for not ripping Gate’s head off after Microsoft stole, then refused to return, Apple QuickTime source code from a third party Apple developer. Instead we all got to watch Big Brother Bill appear at MacWorld on the big screen treated as a fan and friend of the Mac. Steve Jobs even chided us when we deservedly ‘BOO!’ed Gates-the-crook.

    Who was the better man? I know who. 😎

  5. We talking about the same Bill Gates here? Ok, maybe he doesn’t quite deserve a pie in the face, but c’mon…this guy’s company stagnated the personal computer industry for over a decade.

    When Jobs said MS had no class and brought no culture to their products, that’s one of the most damning things he could say from his perspective, and also one of the most accurate.

    Mellowing out in the later years or not, I refuse to believe these guys were buddies deep down inside. One probably thought the other guy was some book smart, only-in-it-for-the-money idiot, and the other probably thought his counterpart was some arrogant SOB dreamer.

    Competition isn’t the only way to make progress. There doesn’t need to be a yin to every yang to make a lasting contribution to society-dreams and dreamers can do that all by themselves.

    Now that Steve is gone, there seems to be this upwelling of respect for Gates that I can’t comprehend. “Oh, Gates isn’t so bad after all…I’m sure there was mutual respect between them…” Phooey. Great, he’s no longer running MS and he’s giving millions to charity. Awesome. He’s still responsible for most of the dark ages we’ve been suffering through and only now seem to be coming out of.

    1. When I think of a world of Microsoft, had Apple not been revived by Steve, I think of a very oppressive world where all media, music, video, movies, tv, photos, books, newspapers, seminars and presentations would be converted to buggy, goofy Window media files with DRM that would tax us, punish us and keep us from doing what we need and desire to do. When I think of Microsoft, I think of trying to help my elderly Aunt with her computer, its crapola, unsolicited pop-ups and spam ads, its idiosyncrasies, viruses, hiccups, obscure and confusing interface and file system, and frustrating limitations…when I explain to her there is an easier way, a better, happier world, she cannot conceive of such a happy world, because all she knows, and all her friends know, and all they really care to know, is Microsoft. That is a world that truly frightens me, and I am so very thankful to Steve and the amazing team at Apple, for leading us far away from that scary world that Bill Gates envisioned that almost came to pass.

      1. +1

        (bill Gates wan’t into building the BEST possible. he was into just creating a good enough product, use it’s colossal monopoly position to kill off the competiton and then don’t spend anymore and move on to the next target. The primary difference between Gates and Jobs was Gates was in it for the money and Jobs for the love of great products. Sort of the Businessman vs the Artist )

  6. As long as Bill Gates is a card caring supporter of eugenics, he will never gain my respect. As for his contributions to the technology field, I believe his most used phrase to people who brought him their original ideas was, “So, sue me.” (After his team purloined the product. I have personal experience with this).

    I think BIll Gates and Eric Schmidt are scum of the Earth. If you really want to know how I feel, just ask. 😉

    Cheers

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