Bill Gates On Steve Jobs: We Created The Mac Together [Video]

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.

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  • Gary

    A lot of the early software available for the Mac came from Microsoft.  In fact, many Office titles originated on the Mac before being ported to Windows.  So, in a sense, Microsoft helped “create” the Mac

  • Eric

    Prior to Windows 95, Windows was nothing like the Mac OS.  The Mac OS at that time was completely different.  Based on software created by IBM, which Apple bought it from.  A lot of the early software available for the Mac DIDN’T come from Microsoft.  Apple built their own “Office” apps, and “Paint” apps.  Which was better than Microsofts current (at the time) software.  Microsoft ripped off the Mac OS to create Windows 95, which is the base of all Windows OS up to this day.  The only contribution that Microsoft put into Apple, is 1. The competition, making Apple “think different”, and creating something Microsoft didn’t have.  And 2. They bought $150 million worth of non-voting Apple shares.  This was to help themselves from going under, and at the same time, also helped Apple from going under too.  But to say that Microsoft helped in building/designing the first Macs is way off base.

  • Gregintosh

    Bill Gates does have a point. If it were up to Steve Jobs alone computers would be purely an upper middle class luxury. Even though there is no doubt in my mind that Apple products provide the best experience, and I am willing to pay for it, I am willing to admit that there is a place for $299 Desktop systems and $329 laptops. 

    That place is in the hands of lower income people who live paycheck to paycheck and for whom computing is not a big priority (i.e. reading the news, Facebooking, and checking e-mail, which is probably like 90% of the computer market today).

    Imagine if $1,199 was the cheapest full Desktop system you could buy. There would be a whole lot of people who would not have computers in the house or even more people who would not update as frequently (which would limit software innovation). 

    And the $1,199 price tag is only that low because of competitive pressures from lower cost systems. If there was nothing cheaper available, Apple would probably charge a lot more.

  • Michael Fullerton

    And then there’s Gary Kildall. I’m with Steve Jobs on this one.

  • Teds McTeddington

    This is an unfairly biased attack at Gates. I love macs, could never see myself going to Windows after so many years but I think to accuse Gates of not working to create macs is unfair. Just check your facts…

  • wingdings

    I for one agree with Teds. This is an unfairly biased attack at Gates.

  • cyberb0b

    What else could Gates do? Al Gore already took credit for inventing the Internet. And this does prove that Gates is a genius. He did, after all, wait until Jobs died so he couldn’t call him out on it. 

  • cyberb0b

    That’s a rather long winded statement that has nothing to do with fact that he DID NOT help create the Mac. All you are arguing that if it wasn’t for Gates then all computers would be more expensive. Which is a ridiculous argument in of itself since it’s something that you really can’t prove. Just because Gates did it first doesn’t mean that it would have never been done. There are PLENTY of cheap Apple product knockoffs. Just look at anything running Android. 

  • Ben Dan

    Well, Gate beat Jobs in this respect: He’s not dead.

  • MacGoo

    Gary is right. MS did develop a lot of the early Mac software under contract. Specifically, on January 22, 1982:
    “Microsoft signs an agreement with Apple Computer, for Microsoft to develop applications for the Macintosh computer. The applications are spreadsheet, business graphics, and database software. Microsoft is not allowed to release similar software for non-Apple computers until one year after the Macintosh introduction, or January 1, 1983, whichever came first. [477.157] [1149.268] [1299.188] [2605.169]” (pctimeline dot info/software/soft1982 dot htm)

    Also, while the code may have been incompatible, many of the “desktop” paradigms were strikingly similar. The Mac was the first to release a successful computer with a graphical user interface on January 24, 1984, and MS released Windows almost a year later on November 20, 1985. They both featured a GUI with “windows” and a “desktop” with “icons”, etc.

  • Dallas Harris

    I am pretty sure that they both talk about helping each other out when it comes to mac and windows. they both helped each other, this is the video I believe it was in. 

    http://www.better-trades.com/a

  • Dragonjo8

    Fact check….
    “Based on software created by IBM”The OS was based on software created by XEROX”Apple built their own “Office” apps, and “Paint” apps. Which was better than Microsofts….”Microsoft’s office based apps (specifically Excel) were superior to Apple’s, especially in the early days (Apple’s were shit).

    “Microsoft ripped off the Mac OS to create Windows 95″
    Ummmm…no.  They both ripped off Xerox.  In fact Gates famously replied to Jobs (when accused of ripping Apple off) as follows:

    “Well, Steve, I think there’s more than one way of looking at it.  I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it”.

    “This was to help themselves from going under….”
    Ummmm…no.  At the time, Microsoft was nowhere near going under.

    Don’t feel bad about not knowing these things.  A lot of Apple fanboys tend to base their heart-felt (cult-like) praise for all things Apple (and Jobs) in a skewed version of the truth.  Kinda like Jobs’ “reality distortion field”.  Oh wait…I’m sorry…you might not know what that is.  Read the AUTHORIZED biography and learn about it.

  • sir1jaguar

    Bill gates – world best software guru…

    Steve jobs – world best salesman…

    Bill gates was the richest guy in the world for long time and known philanthropist…

    Steve jobs never belong even in top ten richest guy and known ass hole…

  • sir1jaguar

    STOP IDOLIZING STEVE JOBS…

    HE WAS AN ARROGANT PRICK…

    NEVER INVENTED ANYTHING, JUST A GREAT SALESMAN…

  • Gregintosh

    I never said Bill Gates was the reason computers can be made cheaply, I just said if all we had was Steve Jobs then computers would be expensive.

  • MacAdvisor

    First, Gore really did invent the Internet as we know it today. He carried and won passage for a set of crucial legislation that changed the Internet from a closed system used by government, large corporations, and research universities into something that was commercially viable. One of the main things he changed was the rule against advertising and commercial promotion, originally prohibited on the Internet. 

    Gates’ firm did contribute mightly to the Macintosh, particularly in its early days. Apple did not produce an office suite (Macintosh Office was a Lisa, modified to be a MacXL as a server, a laser printer, and the AppleTalk network, not a set of applications). Apple produced MacWrite and MacPaint. MacWrite was fine for most simple things (in those days, command-s was superscript in those days, not save, and one needed Cassidy & Green’s SpellWrite to have spell checking), but Word was necessary for any complex writing task. Word started as an application called Multi-Tool Word for Xenix systems. It was ported to DOS in 1983 to little success and to the Mac in 1984, to great success. Word for Windows doesn’t appear until 1989, well after the Mac Plus was making great strides. 

    A MacPlus with a 20 meg, SCSI hard drive, armed with Word and PageMaker, along with a laser printer, was a formidable machine in those days. Nothing in the PC world could touch it. Yes, that system was about five, maybe six, grand, but it was vastly cheaper than the type setting equipment it replaced and made possible low-cost, high-end looking materials in about any office. 

    Gates also contributed Excel, a spreadsheet, something Apple greatly lacked. Excel for the Mac appeared in 1985, and the first Windows version doesn’t came out until over two years later in 1987.

    Without the software from Microsoft, the Mac platform would likely not have survived, let alone thrived. While the Mac mainly made strides in nitches, such as publishing, those were nitches kept the platform alive during some very dark days. Frankly, without Word and Excel, I doubt the Mac could have survived with just PageMaker alone, assuming PageMaker would have been writen for the Mac in those circumstances. If Word for Windows had debuted in 1987, that might have killed the Mac platform. We all rather take for granted the amazing abilities of Word, particularly compared with MacWrite. The only real competitor was WriteNow and it has now been lost to history when it wasn’t ported over to the new PowerPC chip set (strange, really, when one considers the owner of WriteNow was originally Jobs). MacWrite couldn’t even handle footnotes originally. Thus, Word was the word processor choice for students, writers, and anyone with serious work to do. 

    Thank you, Mr. Gates. I don’t know if you intended to help or did so by accident, but you really did contribute to the Mac in greatly positive way. 

  • Boy_Lover_23

    @0f23ccd20dc24750977d30b9b827d443:disqus ……Listen to this…Neighbor’s girlfriend makes 68 hourly on the internet. She has been fired from work for 11 months but last month her paycheck was 7958 USD just working on the internet for a few hours. Read about it on this web site….http://alturl.com/7mubz

  • FleurDeLan

    Bill Gates created Windows so you could see the future of technology, but not totally get your hands on it- Steve Jobs put the future of technology in our hands!

  • Marshalus

    Seems like a poor attack at Gates. While it’s obvious he did not directly contribute to the engineering of the Mac, he was key in the beginning with providing software. It’s clear he just mispoke and wasn’t trying to take credit for anything.

  • David Clark

    Bill wasn’t very well prepared for this interview, was he…

  • kappesante

    this makes me laugh a lot, really.
    - mr. gates, jobs said you didn’t invented anything, and you was able to copy and ripoff.
    - we both created the macintosh

    just a perfect answer!

  • curtis jackson

    Too much LSD will do this to you! Don’t try this at home kids. 

  • Andrew John

    Actually Xerox’s PARC design centre came up with the GUI Apple used in Mac OS, not IBM. Apple allowed Xerox to buy shares in Apple at a reduced rate, in exchange for 3 days with the PARC designed computer, which used the first mouse to navigate on a “desktop” and used folders and windows rather than a command line. People believe Apple stole the idea, but they clearly had an arrangement with Xerox, who in fact, dropped the idea of making computers because they believed there was no future in it for them. Microsoft were writing software for the new Mac OS, which they had full access to, and hence lifted chunks of code to develop windows 95, which they didn’t have an agreement for. Seeing as Apple hadn’t patented or licensed the OS, they failed when they sued Microsoft for stealing the OS code. Which is why microsoft will never have an original idea, only copy what others have done.

  • MacGoo

    Now try to say it without being a total jerk. You’re not completely right either, so don’t sound so self-assured. I’ll let you pick apart your posts for the mistakes, but trust me: they’re there.

    The reality distortion field exists outside of Apple as well…

  • GDal

    Casady (not Cassidy) and Greene… Did the original Word have spell checking?

    Remember, Pagemaker was released before there was really an MS Windows. The version for Windows 2.0 was terrible compared. And crashed a lot! No fonts, no good printers… It was a terrible world, from what I remember. 

    Back in 1987, video graphics on PCs were limited to Hercules mono (the best card at the time), or CGA (YUK!) and EGA (not great either). VGA if you had a PS/2. (I forget when Matrox became a player). Pagemaker would not have done well on those at all. Heck, the Commodore 64 with GEOS was almost a better choice than a PC at that time. (That should be a joke…)

    At that time, there was no Excel either. It was MultiPlan (Microsoft’s best revenue generator at the time).

    While I agree that MS may have helped Mac sales, I’m not sure who helped who more. There was no version of Windows that made people want to use it for graphically intensive work at the time, and the PC hardware was a mess of IRQs and bad DOS memory managers, TSRs and drivers. Windows 95 (8 years later) was the first version of Windows to provide real competition for the Mac.

    I wonder what would have happened had Gary Kildall decided not to play golf when IBM came a callin’…

  • Johnnydirtbag

    Two words: Macintosh BASIC. Yes, Bill has a right to say they worked together in creating the Mac.

  • James McGhie

    See, while the now infamous quote from Gates, about how he went to steal a neighbours (Xerox) TV only to find that Jobs got there first, is true because (and no one knows if Microsoft did visit Xerox and see the Alto in action) graphical interfaces were viewed as the future of computing, it’s undeniable that it was upon seeing the Mac while Microsoft battled ahead with the vastly inferior DOS, that Gates decided he wanted his own version of what was on the Mac.

    The Alto didn’t inspire both Jobs and Gates, it inspired Jobs first and Mac OS was born. It was then that Mac OS “inspired” Gates, who went on to rip it off while working on software for the Mac. Also, people from that era will remember that while Windows copied Mac OS, it was inferior in it’s presentation, lacking the graphical prowess (overlapping windows, etc) found in Mac OS.

    As for co-creating the Mac itself? Bullshit, Bill … and he knows it.

  • Phil

    My heart is shaped like an Apple, and have some different opinions about Mr. Gates. But I got to hand it to him, he took it like a man and I respect him for it. 

  • aarongmoore

    Gates could have decided to be rude or angry but instead he remained calm and relaxed.  I have gained more respect for Gates because he clearly chose to speak positively about Jobs; his composure and positivity tell a lot about Gates’ character.

  • Marshalus

    Either his handlers suck, or he doesn’t use any, because he never seems very prepared. He likes to talk about his philanthropic efforts now and everyone always wants to talk to him about Microsoft and many times get gets visibly annoyed by it.

  • Felix

    Nonsense Mr Gates. You are not able to claim a philosophy or attitude in systems design, meaning innovation! It is similar to a successful innovation vehicle such as BMW where the tire manufacturer are also only a ‘supplier’. Remember also that Gates & Co purchased ‘DOS’ from Nixdorf Computer AG, Germany. Gates further developed and only IBM brought ‘DOS’ to world wide success. remember?

  • JMattP

    Yes, Steve had Bill help him out in the early days of Apple. It’s weird that you don’t know that… being a Mac enthusiast blogger

  • Dragonjo8

    How was I being a jerk? I was merely pointing out where his version of reality was distorted. And yes, while I may not be COMPLETELY right ( I didn’t bother to cite contracts or give explicit details like you did) the gist of what I wrote was correct.  Let’s pick it apart (as you suggested):

    “The OS was based on software created by XEROX”

    This is a factual statement.  Is it not?

    “Microsoft’s office based apps (specifically Excel) were superior to Apple’s, especially in the early days (Apple’s were shit)”.

    Ok…this could probably be argued as being personal opinion. There are folks out there (Apple fanboys) who feel nothing produced by Jobs and company could ever be shit. It should be noted, however, that God…er…Jobs was enamored with Excel (straight from Isaacson’s book) as it was certainly more robust than the spreadsheet module included with AppleWorks for the Apple II (so much so they didn’t bother porting it to the Macintosh until much later).  In addition, although MacWrite was ok, it was not as good as Word (not by opinion…by the numbers).

    “Um….no. They both ripped off Xerox”

    I made this statement in reference to the fact the original “idea” for a GUI interface came as a result of what Jobs and Gates saw at Xerox. Sure, Apple licensed the “idea” from Xerox (Microsoft subsequently licensed it from Apple for Windows) but when Apple faithful distort reality and believe Apple invented it, I say no.  They extend this distortion by saying Microsoft lifted chunks of Apple code to create Windows 95.  Maybe so.  The courts, however, did not agree.  To be clear, both Microsoft and Apple have been guilty of ripping each other off through the years.

    “Um…no. Microsoft was nowhere near going under”

    They weren’t.

    Is the gist of all this not correct? Please point out where I’ve made a mistake.

  • woodshow

    OK, just to make sure I understand the folks agreeing that Bill co-created the Mac with Steve… if I write an app for the iPhone, do I get to say “Steve and I worked together, creating the iPhone”???

  • MacGoo

    “How was I being a jerk?” By inserting snide comments that dismiss your detractors as the “Apple fanboys”, the followers of “God…er…Jobs” or the “Apple faithful”.

    “‘The OS was based on software created by Xerox’ This is a factual statement. Is it not?” Not entirely. As you admit further down, both Mac OS and Windows were inspired by Xerox. Saying they were based off of it (to me) implies a common code base, which is certainly not the case.

    Yes, your statement about Apple software being “shit” early on is completely objective. I have no loyalty to Jobs or Apple other than what they have earned. But one could make the argument that Word, Excel and other MS Office programs’ success was directly proportional to the success of the OS as a whole. Or not. There are any number of arguments that can be made once objectivity is thrown out – which is why objectivity SHOULDN’T be thrown out.

    “Um…no. They both ripped off Xerox.” Again, this implies foul play by Apple and MS, which wasn’t the case. It may not have been an idea that originated at Apple, but it was all above board. And if I may be allowed a colloquialism, Audre Lorde once said, “There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” Xerox didn’t have the original idea either – everyone is inspired by something. The original mouse was pioneered by Doug Englebert in the 1960s, and the original GUI by Ivan Sutherland (also in the early 1960s). These men in turn were inspired by others with “original” ideas.

    “Um…no. Microsoft was nowhere near going under”. No, they weren’t. You were quite right.

    Mistakes are relative, as are truths. Your mistake was in being so absolute that you painted yourself into a corner.

  • Mike Rathjen

    sir1jaguar…

    Likes to use a lot of periods…

    After each statement…

    Not really sure why…

    Guess he likes them a lot…

  • MacAdvisor

    Ah, yes, Casady & Greene. They were a wonderful company back in the day. They had a spreadsheet program, fonts, games, you name it. They were so inventive and creative. I really miss them. I don’t know if the Multi-Tool Word version had a spell check, but the first Macintosh version did. For its day, Word was surprisingly sophisticated. 

    I agree PageMaker really didn’t have any choice but the Mac platform, given its visual representation of a page (the most radical use of WYSIWYG at the time). I can still remember discovering Times was substituted for New York when something printed and all the trouble that caused me until I figured it out (yes, that substitution was clearly noted in the documentation). Still, I could do things with PageMaker that were noithing short of remarkable. 

    Still, I am not sure PageMaker alone could have saved the Mac. Even then, PageMaker imported text and most things were written in Word at the professional level. If anything, Word spured on MacWrite and WriteNow. Excel for Mac comes out in September of 1987 and was a big hit from the start. With PageMaker and Excel only really available on the Mac in 1987, 88, and most of 89 (Excel for Windows comes out in December of 89), I think the Microsoft products gave the Mac a big advantage back in those days. Keeping them available on the Mac back in the Dark Days of the early 90s I think saved the platform and the company. 

    Thus, I think Gates can legitimately claim he “did key software” for the Mac and those products did help in very positive ways create the Mac as we know it today. 

  • MacAdvisor

    If you write an app that turns the iPhone from an interesting curiosity into a viable platform, an app so useful and widespread it helps define the platform, and then, when the iPhone is having trouble competing, you keep producing great updates for the iPhone so the Apple can fix the problems, then, yes, I think you helped co-create. Fortunately, the iPhone didn’t need that and it didn’t happen. 

    I think we can say VisaCalc helped create the Apple II. 

  • woodshow

    I think your point is that Visicalc is one of the applications that helped make the Mac popular and successful, and that allows Visicalc’s developer to claim the title of creator of the Mac. Wow, that opens a whole new world to me as a “creator”. 

    But why stop with “hey I wrote an app for the thing you made, so that makes me a creator of the thing you made”? For example, what really made the Macintosh a success was all of the users who bought and used one. I was one of those people. Ergo, I am also a creator of the Mac…!!?? And I didn’t even use Visicalc.

  • Dragonjo8

    “By inserting snide comments that dismiss your detractors as the “Apple fanboys”, the followers of “God…er…Jobs” or the “Apple faithful”.”

    I see nothing snide about those comments nor the context in which I made them.  In fact, I was being quite direct about what I feel accurately describes a person who can blindly dispense with the truth and state things as fact, with little or no research.  Is this not what “fanboys” do?  Is this not what Eric27 did? Take a look at some of the other comments here.  Have any trouble discerning who’s who?

    And no…I don’t dismiss all detractors as “Apple fanboys”.  You’re kind of a detractor. I don’t consider you a fanboy (despite your avatar and username).  Why?  Because you’ve obviously done your homework.

    “Saying they were based off of it (to me) implies a common code base, which is certainly not the case.”

    Oh come on…you’re reaching here.  You know damn well I wasn’t trying to imply they were from a common code base.  Geez…the thought never even entered my mind.  I was simply pointing out to Eric27 it was Xerox (not IBM) he should have been referring to.  You inferred incorrectly here, sir.

    “Yes, your statement about Apple software being “shit” early on is completely objective.”

    I think you meant SUBJECTIVE here (or maybe you were just being snarky?).  I’m not going to assume otherwise because…well…you’d be proving my point.  With regard to this point, Mr. Jobs (is that better?… I didn’t say God) would often refer to stuff (hardware/software/art/literature/music, etc.) that were not (in his mind) the pinnacle of perfection as “shit”.  While my statement about early Apple software being “shit” is subjective, you wouldn’t need to take much of leap to assume he felt the same way about it.  Why else would he have worked with Microsoft?
     
    “Again, this implies foul play by Apple and MS, which wasn’t the case.”

    And again…since I acknowledged that both parties licensed the use of the “idea” I am quite aware there was no “legal” foul play involved.  Neither of them, however, are deserving of the notion they invented the idea, as “fanboys” (of either side) often believe.
     
    “No, they weren’t. You were quite right.”

    SHIT….I actually got one (indisputably) right?!?!
     
    “Your mistake was in being so absolute that you painted yourself into a corner”

    Never felt cornered.  Always felt as though I was in the middle of the ring, going toe to toe.

  • MacAdvisor

    Umm, my point is either Word & Excel helped make the Mac platform, or Visicalc made the Apple II platform. As far as i know, Visicalc was never released for the Mac platform. 

    Do I think the definition of “create” is expansive enough to include those not on the Mac128 development team, yes. Do I think users had much to do with the creating the Mac. Yes, I would argue we did, but our individual contributions are hard to trace. 

    The contributions of Bill Gates are relatively obvious, as are those of Jeremy Jaech, Mark Sundstrom, Mike Templeman, Dave Walter, and Paul Brainerd (the PageMaker team); Spec Bowers, Alan Albert, Dan Chadwick, Jega Arulpragasam (from Wang, who are the core who gave us FileMaker);  John Warnock and Charles Geschke (who gave us PostScript);  Gary Starkweather (who gave us the laser printer);  Hartmut Esslinger,  Andreas Haug, and Georg Spreng (founders of Frog Design, who, along with Steve, made great industrial design a part of Apple all the way back to the Apple IIc);  David Bunnell and Andrew Fluegelman (who gave us MacWorld); and, of course, Steve Jobs.

    Jobs didn’t invent them Mac on his own, nor was it solely his vision. There was a whole team at Apple that made the Mac. Does anyone want to write Jobs contributed more than  Jef Raskin (who was working on the Mac well before Jobs was), Bill Atkinson, Burrell Smith, Andy Hertzfeld, Guy Kawasaki, or Bud Tribble?

    If Jaech said he’d help create the Mac with his PageMaker software, would anyone challenge him? If Starkweather claimed the laser printer helped create the Mac, who would disagree? 

    Henry Ford did not invent the automobile, nor the assembly line; Edison did not create the first light bulb, and he favored DC current over AC (a battle he lost to Tesla and the AC motor). However, without Ford, cars today would be vastly different and, without Edison, electricity might not be in every home. Without Steve Jobs, I think the Mac might have been Lisa II and vanished into the mists of time, but without help from many others, the Mac would not be what it is today, nor, perhaps, exist at all. Gates is one of the people who helped create the Mac we know and love. 

  • MacGoo

    Touché. Well reasoned and (mostly) snark-free.

    I’m definitely not a fanboy (my name AND avatar are actually intended to promote my stance on platform agnosticism – “mac ” and “google” combined).

    It was a reach to claim you were implying a common codebase, although that was my initial impression when I first read your comment.

    Oho, a bit of snark there – you can call him whatever you want. Mr. Jobs, Steve-O or borderline sociopathic nut-job. You’re not going to offend me, as long as you can back up why you label him that.

    My point was not that they invented it, but that no one can truly claim to be the author of a completely original idea – all are based off of inspiration and precedent. Fanboys DO cut a lot of corners and say he “invented” the mouse, the GUI, etc when it would be more accurate to say he refined these paradigms to where they were accessible and then popularized them.

    Again, touché. Your corner might not be as inescapable as I first thought. We don’t disagree near as much as either of us initially thought. Cheers!

  • woodshow

    I respect your position. I just disagree with it. Not necessarily any of the individual points, but rather the whole of your argument that the Mac (or the Apple II, or the iPhone, or Windows, or MSDOS, or the Zune) was “created” by anyone who happened to write a successful application for the platform. My example of how I helped create the Mac because I owned one was sarcasm (I also owned an Apple II, so my list of contributions to the computing world is expanding during our back and forth).

    As for the team that did create the original Mac, Kudos! I still have  the old mac with everyone’s signature molded into the case. Yes, these endeavors are almost always the work of more than one person. And even when it’s mostly just one person, that person is standing the shoulders of giants. When I look at the amazing technology we hold in our hands, I don’t look at it as the achievement of just one person, or one company, or even one industry. It’s culmination of what started with some guy in a cave who thought fire was pretty nifty.

    But to try and twist all that to say that Bill is the creator of the Mac is just plain silly. IMHO.

  • Dragonjo8

    “We don’t disagree near as much as either of us initially thought. Cheers!”
    Right back at ya!!!  It was fun!

  • MacAdvisor

    I absolutely agree we stand on the shoulders of giants and  the technology available today is nothing short of amazing. I am old enough to have used punch cards and was dizzy with joy for getting access to a computer with them, so all that I have now makes me feel like I live in a sci-fi adventure novel sometimes. Fire is a rather nifty thing.

    I don’t think Bill created the Mac, but was a significant contributor to it. I think he had more programers writing more good stuff for the Mac almost anyone save Apple. 

    You know the old saying, victory has many parents, while failure is an orphan. The Mac has been triumphant, converting essentially everyone to GUI, even its opponents. I give Steve the most credit, but I say Uncle Bill put in a pixel or two. 

  • woodshow

    Well said, and we end this discussion in agreement :) 

    My original (and only) beef was with the comments that seemed too eager to grant co-creator status to Bill. It just seemed to lower the bar a bit too much – not unlike how nowadays they give trophies to every kid on every team. I remember in my day, we used to… OK, I’ll save that for another thread.

  • GDal

    Casady & Greene was a nice little company… Good people, and great software. Strange that it was in Salinas (well, close) and not in Silicon Valley. Then again, Digital research was in Monterey.

    I wish there was an iPad port of Mission Thunderbolt. (Calhoun, you listening?)

    Seems I got some dates wrong regarding Excel. It was ’85 when it was released for Mac. I thought it was later.

    I agree, PM was not enough to save Apple, and MS continuing to make Word and Excel for Mac was certainly helpful. That price issue was always the real killer. $5000+ for a Mac, vs $999 for a basic PC, and about $2500 for a good one. The Mac was a great machine, but most could not justify the cost. And the accessories… Windows added to a PC was a no-brainer, and I’m sure most copies of Windows 3.1 were pirated :-)

    Nobody can deny that BG and MS made great software for the first Mac. He and his company had the experience, and they had worked with Apple to create Apple II Basic (Woz just wouldn’t do floating point…??), so having them create the first Mac software was a natural choice. Whether it can be said that he helped “create” the Mac… That’s debatable.

  • Dilbert A

    My god.

  • Stephen James

    Mmm… reading “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson I found the following quote referring to Bil Gates:

    “We did the Mac together” Jobs said. “How did that work for you? Very well. Now we’re going to do this together and this is going to be great.”

    This was in reference to Steve Jobs pitching Bill Gates to get involved with his new company NeXT.

    From the founder of Apple himself, it seems like the case is closed.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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