Steve Jobs and Bill Gates Talk About the Beginnings

Steve jobs and bill gates

The video footage below is from the D5 conference where Steve Jobs and Bill Gates shared the stage. Each gets to answer Walter Mossberg's question about what major contribution the other made to the industry.

At about minute 7.5, as Gates is getting deeper into engineering talk, Jobs says, “let me tell the story.” This alone shows how the two leaders' lives converged over the years.

The conversation is peppered with data points about the not too distant past — for example, Gates says Windows '95 was the year graphics interface became mainstream. According to Gates it was a combination of things, software, hardware, etc. 

At minute 17 Jobs talks about how the people at Apple thought that for the company to win, Microsoft had to lose and how he felt that Apple had forgotten how to be Apple, because it didn't have to be like Microsoft.

It's interesting to hear both talk and to observe their styles and language choices — Jobs being the natural storyteller with the power of persuasion. He says the PC guy in the famous rivalry commercials has a big heart:

“PC Guy is what makes it all work.”

Gates is far more technical. At the time Microsoft was a much larger company than Apple. A fun soundbite from Gates:

“Steve is so known for his restraint.”

At some point Jobs says Apple sees itself as a software company that mostly doesn't compete with what Microsoft does and that they don't believe they will reach an 80% share of the PC market.

However, Apple did reach a milestone last year. Re/Code reports:

Apple’s Macs now enjoy their highest-ever market share in the United States, according to IDC’s third-quarter report: The Mac is the third-largest PC seller in the U.S., with a 13 percent share.

There's a great discussion about local vs. cloud computing, and rich clients on mobile systems at about 30 minutes into the video that hints at where each company is projecting the next few years. Five years out Gates says, “I believe in the tablet form factor. I think you’ll have voice. I think you’ll have ink. You’ll have some way of having a hardware keyboard and some settings for that.”

From the exchange:

Gates: The mainstream is always under attack. The thing that people don’t realize is that you’re going to have rich local functionality, I mean, at least our bet, whereas you get things like speech and vision, as you get more natural form factors, it’s a question of using that local richness together with the richness that’s elsewhere.

And as you look at the device, say, that’s connecting to the TV set or connecting in the car, there are lighter-weight hardware Internet connections, but when you come to the full screen rich, you know, edit the document, create things, you know, I think we’re nowhere near where we could be on making that stronger.

Jobs: I’ll give you a concrete example. I love Google Maps, use it on my computer, you know, in a browser. But when we were doing the iPhone, we thought, wouldn’t it be great to have maps on the iPhone? And so we called up Google and they’d done a few client apps in Java on some phones and they had an API that we worked with them a little on. And we ended up writing a client app for those APIs. They would provide the back-end service. And the app we were able to write, since we’re pretty reasonable at writing apps, blows away any Google Maps client. Just blows it away. Same set of data coming off the server, but the experience you have using it is unbelievable. It’s way better than the computer. And just in a completely different league than what they’d put on phones before.

And, you know, that client is the result of a lot of technology on the client, that client application. So when we show it to them, they’re just blown away by how good it is. And you can’t do that stuff in a browser.

So people are figuring out how to do more in a browser, how to get a persistent state of things when you’re disconnected from a browser, how do you actually run apps locally using, you know, apps written in those technologies so they can be pretty transparent, whether you’re connected or not.

But it’s happening fairly slowly and there’s still a lot you can do with a rich client environment. At the same time, the hardware is progressing to where you can run a rich client environment on lower and lower cost devices, on lower and lower power devices. And so there’s some pretty cool things you can do with clients.

Jobs answer on the five years from now:

I don’t know. And the reason I don’t know is because I wouldn’t have thought that there would have been maps on it five years ago, but something comes along, gets really popular, people love it, get used to it, you want it on there. So people are inventing things constantly and I think the art of it is balancing what’s on there and what’s not on there, is the editing function.


There’s a lot of them surrounding entertainment, but there’s a lot of them that have to do with just sort of figuring how to navigate through life a little more efficiently. And I think, you know, it’s really great when you show somebody something and you don’t have to convince them they have a problem this solves. They know they have a problem, you can show them something, they go, oh, my God, I need this. And I think you’re going to see a lot of things like that happen over the next year or two.

It's fascinating to see the connection points and witness how both Gates and Jobs envisioned the future.

Watch the full video below.

Here's the full transcript.


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