Bill Gates -- I helped Steve Jobs create the Mac

By Preston Gralla

Steve Jobs had some very harsh things to say about Bill Gates in the just-published biography of him. In an interview yesterday, Gates responded quite kindly to that criticism, but also took credit for helping Steve Jobs invent the Mac.

In the biography, Jobs called Gates "unimaginative," "fundamentally odd" and "weirdly flawed as a human being." He also said, "He'd be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger."

Yesterday, in an interview on ABC's "This Week," Christiane Amanpour asked Gates about that criticism. Gates didn't rise to the bait, saying complimentary things about Jobs and saying that because Apple was in financial trouble in various times, it was no surprise that Jobs would lash out at him.

When Amanpour asked what he felt about the criticism, Gates started off his answer this way:

"Well, Steve and I worked together, creating the Mac. We [Microsoft] had more people on it, did the key software for it."

One can only imagine Jobs' reaction to the claim that the "unimaginative," "fundamentally odd" and "weirdly flawed" Gates was a co-creator of one of Jobs' greatest accomplishments. Needless to say, he would not be pleased.

Gates then expanded on his answer:

"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 stay 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."

Gates's demeanor during the interview was his usual public one, bland and mild-mannered. But the fact that he takes partial credit for the creation of the Mac, and that he pointedly notes that Apple was under the threat of going under because of a possibly fundamentally flawed business plan at one point (targeting only the high end), shows that his competitive streak is still there, no matter how bland he may seem.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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