Last night, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates was on ABC News to discuss continuing foreign aid as well as his philanthropy work. During the interview, he was asked about Steve Jobs’s less than kind words about him in Walter Isaacson’s bio: specifically, the part where Jobs (unfairly) says that Bill Gates had no original ideas and got rich just by ripping other people off.
Gates’s response is gracious enough. He says that Steve Jobs and he had a long history with each other, and their relationship as colleagues-turned-competitors was complicated, but that he doesn’t fault Steve for anything he said about him.
For me, though, the weird part is when Bill Gates says he helped create the original Mac. Maybe Gates doesn’t spend all his time ripping off other people’s ideas, but he sure seems to like ripping off posthumous credit for them.
Here’s Gate’s full quote on Steve Jobs:
“Well, Steve and I worked together, creating the Mac. We had more people on it, did the key software for it.”
“So, over the course of the 30 years we worked together, you know, he said a lot of very nice things about me and he said a lot of tough things. I mean, he faced several times at Apple the fact that their products were so premium priced they literally might not say in the marketplace. So, the fact that we were succeeding with high-volume products, including a range of prices, because of the way we worked with multiple companies, its tough.
“At various times, he felt beleaguered. He felt like he was the good guy and we were the bad guys. You know, very understandable. I respect Steve, we got to work together. We spurred each other on, even as competitors. None of that bothers me at all.”
It’s weird wording. It can be argued that Jobs and Gates worked together popularizing the Mac, specifically thanks to Apple’s exclusive deal with Microsoft for Excel early on, but Gates and Jobs hardly “worked together, creating the Mac.”
I like Bill Gates a lot, but this sort of comment isn’t exactly proving Steve wrong.