Jobs v. Gates: Go!

As a (virtual) card-carrying member of the Computer History Museum, I love anything that involves the history of technology or computing. Imagine my glee when I discovered the National geographic Channel has created a mini-series called “American Genius,” which focuses on famous rivalries throughout history. It also has a fantastic webpage you should really click over.

There are more than you might think: The series includes such rivalries as firearms manufacturers Colt and Wesson and publishers Hearst and Pulitzer. But the one I am most interested in is the one between computer luminaries Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

It is no secret that there was a rivalry, and a love-hate relationship. Apple fans are still bitter about the 1997 infusion of $150 million provided by Microsoft, even the 1983 Gates appearance at an Apple panel on Software doesn’t sit well with some, while Apple later stomped Microsoft in the mobile market and revolutionized as well as legitimized digital distribution of entertainment.

This wasn’t a fabricated rivalry, however it wasn’t the “I wish he were dead” type of vengeful hate that people want to claim it was, either. People may not want to admit it, but those two respected each other, while being irritated by each other at the same time. They were both very important figures in the technology industry, and neither they nor their contributions should be minimized.

Just a slight addition: They also highlight the rivalry between Nikola Tesla (developer of alternating current, the form of electricity used in houses) and Thomas Edison (developer of direct current, the form of electricity used in batteries),m both of whom are also very important to computing and technology. This is a rivalry that still exists in some ways, and if you don’t believe it, have you ever plugged in a laptop or game console or something like that and wondered why the power cord has that huge box? It’s a transformer, which converts AC into DC! We’re still fighting between them!