Coding Horror

programming and human factors

Gates and Jobs, Then and Now

If you didn't get a chance to watch today's historic interview between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, you should. Finally seeing these two computer industry giants on stage interacting with each other was fascinating and at times even a little touching.

To put some context on today's meeting, watch this highlight reel of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates in 1983 and 1997. It's hard to believe, but the last time these two guys were on stage together was in 1983 for the "Macintosh Dating Game". That's why today's interview was so notable-- historic, even.

It's clear that these two long-term rivals have a lot of respect for each other. They might even be friends. They've certainly been through a lot together in the last thirty years.

Bill Gates: It's been fun to work together. I actually kind of miss some of the people who aren't around anymore. You know, people come and go in this industry. It's nice when somebody sticks around and they have some context of all the things that have worked and not worked. The industry gets all crazy about some new thing, you know, like, there's always this paradigm of the company that's successful is going to go away and stuff like that. It's nice to have people seeing the waves and waves of that and yet, when it counted, to take the risk to bring in something new.

Steve Jobs: You know, when Bill and I first met each other and worked together in the early days, generally, we were both the youngest guys in the room, right? Individually or together. I'm about six months older than he is, but roughly the same age. And now when we're working at our respective companies, I don't know about you, but I'm the oldest guy in the room most of the time. And that's why I love being here. And, you know, I think of most things in life as either a Bob Dylan or a Beatles song, but there's that one line in that one Beatles song, "you and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead." And that's clearly true here.

In a way, I feel like I've been tagging along with Gates and Jobs throughout their storied history, through the ups and downs, through the ebb and flow of the computer industry. Their history feels like our history, my history. These two guys have been my role models since the day I first booted a computer. Everyone I know has owned an Apple computer, or run Microsoft software-- or both-- at some point in their lives. It's unavoidable. I grew up with the microcomputer, and the microcomputer as we know it today is largely due to the influence of both Jobs and Gates.


Written by Jeff Atwood

Indoor enthusiast. Co-founder of Stack Overflow and Discourse. Disclaimer: I have no idea what I'm talking about. Find me here: