We grew up together’: Bill Gates wells up with emotion as he describes the friendship and rivalry he shared with Apple founder Steve Jobs
Bill Gates has given an emotional interview to CBS’ 60 Minutes in which he speaks about his relationship with Apple visionary Steve Jobs – telling how the two ‘grew up together’.
Talking to veteran host Charlie Rose, the Microsoft founder wells up as he recalls visiting Jobs just before his death at home in Palo Alto, California, in October 2011.
Describing their last conversation as ‘forward looking’, Gates, 58, also reminisced with Rose about how the two technology giants shaped Silicon Valley during a friendly rivalry that lasted over 35 years.
Friend and Rival: Bill Gates became emotional over Steve Jobs during Sundays CBS 60 Minutes broadcast
‘He showed me the boat he was working on,’ said Gates to 60 Minutes on Sunday, ‘and talked about how he’s looking forward to being on it, even though we both knew there was a good chance that wouldn’t happen.’
‘We talked about what we learned, about families, anything.
He was not being melancholy, like, ‘Oh I’ve been jipped’. He was very forward looking about how we haven’t really improved education with technology.’
The unexpectedly poignant moment from the usually reserved Gates came as he was discussing how the two men had forged multi-billion dollar companies and fortunes – changing the public’s relationship with technology forever.
‘He and I, in a sense, grew up together,’ explained Gates. ‘We were within a year of the same age, and we were kind of naively optimistic and built big companies.
‘And every fantasy we had about creating products and learning new things– we achieved all of it. And most of it as rivals.
‘But we always retained a certain respect and communication, including even when he was sick.’
Their complex friendship was explored during the revealing interview, in which the respect Gates held Jobs in was laid bare.
Gates even discusses how Jobs’ flair for design allowed him and Apple to defeat Microsoft in producing the iPad, the first user-friendly tablet.
‘We did tablets, lots of tablets, well before Apple did. But they put the pieces together in a way that succeeded.’
The two technology titans were known for their long rivalry, shaped through shared experiences that eventually became a deep mutual respect and friendship.
However, since Jobs’ death snippets have emerged about the depth of feeling between the two, such as the fact that Jobs kept a letter from Gates next to his deathbed.
The two had previously appeared on 60 Minutes many times before – but never together – Steve Jobs is seen in 1996 (left) and Bill Gates in 1995 (right)
The letter, sent as the Apple founder’s death was imminent, told him he should feel proud about his life’s work and the company he had built.
Gates, founder and former CEO of Microsoft, made the revelation during an interview with The Daily Telegraph last year, in which he spoke highly of his rival.
The duo had reportedly locked horns throughout their careers as Microsoft picked up the pace, with Apple initially lagging behind.
In a biography published after his death in October, Jobs branded Gates a ‘basically unimaginative’ person who ‘ripped off’ other people’s ideas.
But in the interview, the 57-year-old billionaire shot down these claims, praising the creator of the iPhone and iPad.
‘He spent a lot of his time competing with me,’ Gates told The Telegraph.
‘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.’
But he added: ‘Steve was an incredible genius who contributed immensely to the field I was in … We enjoyed each [other’s work].’
Gates has previously pointed out that Jobs’ frustration with him could have been down to Microsoft’s business success – while Apple struggled for years, only becoming dominant in the last decade.
But their friendship blossomed when Gates left Microsoft in 2007 to set up the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife.
He organized an event with Jobs, and ‘he couldn’t have been nicer’, he said.
A few months before Jobs passed away, Gates visited him at his home, where they spoke for hours about the past and the future.
He later wrote him a letter: ‘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.’
The letter was not meant to be conciliatory, The Telegraph points out.
‘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.’
At the time of his death, Gates said: ‘The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. I will miss Steve immensely.’