Toward the end of Bill Gates' Sunday interview on 60 Minutes — in which the Microsoft co-founder talked about everything from his foundation's philanthropy work, his obsession with Leonardo da Vinci, his personal reading list, and a futuristic mosquito laser intended to combat malaria — Gates took a few moments to talk about his lifelong friend and rival, the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
60 Minutes has released additional footage of Gates growing emotional as he recalled the pair's contentious relationship — which helped spawn two of the biggest tech companies of the 21st century. Here, four highlights:
1. "We always retained a certain respect, communication."
Early in his career, Gates was described as brash and hard-nosed. But after reinventing himself as one of the world's foremost philanthropists, the tech billionaire has become "a different person," noted 60 Minutes' Charlie Rose, who has interviewed Gates dozens of times over the years.
When asked about Jobs and Apple, this softer, wiser Gates admitted that their relationship was ugly at times, but it was to be expected. "He and I in a sense grew up together," said Gates. "We were in a year of the same age. We were kind of naively optimistic and built big companies."
"We achieved all of it," he added. "Most of it as rivals, but we always retained a certain respect, communication. Even when he was sick I got to go down and talk to him about what we've learned. Families. Anything."
2. "He had an intuitive sense of marketing that was amazing."
It was well documented in Walter Isaacson's 2011 biography that Jobs wasn't a great programmer. But the Apple co-founder more than made up for his shortcomings in other areas, said Gates. "[Microsoft] did lots of tablets well before Apple did, but they put the pieces together in a way that succeeded. His sense of design, that everything had to fit a certain aesthetic, the fact that he, with as little engineering background as he had — it shows that design can lead you in a certain direction so that phenomenal products came out of it."
"He knew about brand in a very positive sense," said Gates. "He had an intuitive sense of marketing that was amazing."
3. His sense of humor was "classic."
Years ago, the two were scheduled to meet for dinner one night, but Jobs — who was secretly battling pancreatic cancer for the second time in his life — had to cancel at the last minute. A laughing Gates recalled that Jobs sent him this note to explain: "If he wants to know why, tell him I'm an a--hole."
"He was sick," said Gates, "but it was kind of classic."
4. Jobs was upbeat until the very end.
Gates contended that Jobs was still very much focused on the future, even at the end of his life. "He showed me the boat he was working on and said he was looking forward to being on it, even though we both knew there was a good chance that wouldn't happen," said Gates, referring to the $138 million super-yacht Jobs purchased before he died. "Thinking about your potential mortality isn't very productive."
In 2007, the pair appeared onstage at the All Things Digital D5 conference for what would be their last interview together. Jobs, getting characteristically emotional, explained his lifelong relationship with Gates this way:
I think of most things in life as either a Bob Dylan or 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." That's clearly true here.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- What is Molly? Everything you need to know about the party drug
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
- On ISIS, neocons and liberal hawks have a 'boy who cried wolf' problem
- 10 things you need to know today: September 2, 2014
- How to stop misogynists from terrorizing the world of gamers
- The 10 best networking tips for people who hate networking
Subscribe to the Week