A Rich Neighbor

When Steve Jobs found out about Windows, he went ballistic.

Steve Jobs, reality distortion on a high level

"Get Gates down here immediately", he fumed to Mike Boich, Mac's original evangelist who was in charge of our relationships with third party developers. "He needs to explain this, and it better be good. I want him in this room by tomorrow afternoon, or else!"

William Gates Jr., pay my soft ware

"And, to my surprise, I was invited to a meeting in that conference room the next afternoon, where Bill Gates had somehow manifested, alone, surrounded by ten Apple employees. I think Steve wanted me there because I had evidence of Neil asking about the internals, but that never came up, so I was just a fascinated observer as Steve started yelling at Bill, asking him why he violated their agreement."

"You're ripping us off!", Steve shouted, raising his voice even higher. "I trusted you, and now you're stealing from us!"

But Bill Gates just stood there coolly, looking Steve directly in the eye, before starting to speak in his squeaky voice.

"Well, Steve, I think there's more than one way of looking at it. I think it's more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it." ...

Read more at folklore.org

Andy Hertzfeld also remembers the incident in a similar but relevantly different way. We think Hertzfelds description is probably be more faithful than Boich's:

"... He (Jobs) was trying to get them (MSFT) to forget about the OS business, since the applications business would be much bigger total dollars. He said, "It's not that I don't trust you, but my team doesn't trust you. It's kind of like if your brother was beating up on my brother, people wouldn't say it was just your brother against my brother, they would say the Gates are fighting with the Jobs." Bill responded that "No Steve, I think it's more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox, and you went in to steal the TV, and found that somebody else had stolen it. So you say, "hey, that's not fair. I wanted to steal the TV".

All enhancements added by TinyTalk plc.

Now, one should never forget that Steve grew up with a single hippie mother and Bill in a very-well-to-do WASP household. What this did with them and how Jobs for a long time had troubles with the corporate world and Gates had not, how Jobs always fought against open systems and Gates profited from them, is a topic for another day.

But now, after all these years, what will motivate Jobs when Gates is a pensionnaire and philantrope? Selling ever shinier stuff to ever richer kids can't be that sharp. AAPL's profits have risen well above MSFT's. Are the suits really still the guys you want to impress? Come on Steve, you have earned to relax just a bit. There are enough young guys'n'gals to carry the torch, :-)

The Xerox Star Interface

PS: The differences between LISA/MacOS and DOS/Windows - despite everything that respective fans suspect - are mainly based in the ISAs (instruction set architectures), implementation and memory management of the original 16- and 32bit architectures of Intel and Motorola respectively. And then the overall cost of those architectures and in turn with Gates' office business oriented preference for the Intel and later IBM world, while Wozniak/Apple had chosen Motorola/Mostek with its cleaner architecture and better path. Watch the following video if you're interested in why and how Intel won the microprocessor wars until heat and power consumption problems heaved a poverty driven European architecture, made possible by American tools, heaved ARM into the saddle of the winning horse. Which is yet another story for another time.

There was also a corresponding large difference in SW philosophy of which MSFT's was more modern and less performant than AAPL's (bytecode, virtual machines, portability, high level languages vs. pragmatic handcrafted "small is beautiful" Motorola ISA assembly and manually optimized Apple Pascal Code in the beginning). That difference like with the one with Multiplan/Excel vs. Lotus 1-2-3 first gave the advantage to Apple and the hand-crafters and then, after some years to Microsoft. None of these optimizations are necessary anymore, one might add.


The very same reasons also caused the ancestors of both, the beautiful Xerox Alto, Dolphin and Dorado with their advanced Smalltalk, Cedar, Gypsy and Star interfaces (the latter even had a now becoming fashionable in mobiles 3-line menu icon in 1981) to plummet to the bottom of the waters called market rules like a cannon ball.


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Long going story

about the moral developement of exhippie Jobs. brings us up to the present too. thanx 4 the link. good reading.

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Mrs. U.

really has more new stuff'n'linkage on the moral/ethical handbook of AAPL.

Them califournians are fast an' furiously approaching the levels of the good ole roman empire, it seems.

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And also Paul

claims to possess some assets aka ideas: www.golem.de

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There has been evidence

that the important and successful ideas in MSFT - like licensing the Unix source code in the 70ies and learning from it and licensing QDOS from a neighbor company were rather Mr. Allen's than Mr. Gates' while Mr. Gates' - with his mothers' help, but also by himself - was very smart, open, flexibel and pragmatic with handling difficult outside business relationships - as e.g. with Apple (difficult Mr. Jobs), IBM (difficult Mrs. Opel and Akers, hoards of directors and managers), Byte magazine, the economy press and on and on.

Thanks for that link to Golem. I have followed it through and found the prepublished stuff on vanity fair. So nice and rewarding for my curiosity.

I had already ordered Mr. Allen's new autobiography, full of hope to again learn new stuff on the history of microcomputing and may get some of my prejudices confirmed and some of them broken.

... In building our homegrown basic, we borrowed bits and pieces of our design from previous versions, a long-standing software tradition. Languages evolve; ideas blend together; in computer technology, we all stand on others’ shoulders...

At the danger of repeating myself: As shown, most of these contended ideas flew around the scene, were results of academic/industry working teams with many of them published better or less well in the academic and trade presses.

The thing to do was not having ideas but recognizing, selecting, combining and implementing the right ones (with spreadsheet Visicalc a notable exception). Success in SW seems to be determined by exactly that and the right point in time (aka tempo).

Defending IP under such circumstances - as opposed to trusting in your implementation quality alone - always kind of carries a certain haut gout and judgement on quality of implementation is erratic at best, in the short run at least.

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And here comes some hardcore stuff.

A recent Southpark episode features some personal assets more imputed to Mr Jobs though combining it with a reference to the plot of a, well, soulless (to say the least) movie called ”The Human Centipede”. (A detail I wish I would have known before watching the episode and now I wish I never had known at all. But alas, you cannot make sth. unseen, can you.)

So I’d mark this posting NSFW on Reddit, or maybe even NSFL(ife). You have been warned. And decide yourselves if Jobs is correctly represented.

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Heavy, heavy, heavy

Or, as Bokononists would say: busy, busy, busy!

Or, as Bryant would say: I need ya, Decks. This is a bad one, the worst yet.

And yes, many people can forget or displace, but - and it is a great but, if you were not forced to adequately train this capacité de refoulement in your formative years than seen will stay seen, heard will remain heard and smells will inhabit your olfactory forever, I guess.

Nevertheless, thanks for this hint, i would not have missed it and had missed it but for you for some more years to come most probably.

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... answer!
last updated: 05.04.22, 07:16

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