What do I do for fun? I listen to podcasts. This particular one was an interview session with Bill Gates and Steve Jobs at the D5 conference. It’s really worth listening to, or watching the video which is also available on the d5.althingsd.com website. That interview sounds like two long-time friends talking about old times on occasion, and at other times, you are sharply reminded that these two guys really shaped the world of personal computers.
One interesting point , that was discussed, was the fact that progress in the operating systems for computers has been much more than the users have really noticed, because it has happened incrementally. On the other hand, progress couldn’t be more rapid because the user is only able to cope with small changes. On the other hand, in hand held device technology such as mobile phones, technology can be applied more daringly because the user has not formed extensive habits as yet.
Apple started off developing and selling hardware in 1976, while Microsoft was the first dedicated software development company started in 1977. In the meantime, Apple now sees itself as a software developer as well. The hardware that Apple produces is the peripheral gadget to run the software on. Microsoft had a business culture of working with developers from the beginning whereas Apple initially wanted to do everything themselves. Only much later Apple started working with developers. It could be one of the reasons why Microsoft is so much bigger.
What was really amazing to see, was what developments in the field of computer and communications technology both Jobs and Gates have lived through. One tends to forget that they have lived through thirty years of working in this environment. Jobs is credited with a greater ability to identify excellent designs for the consumer.
They spoke about the Macintosh, an Apple computer, that had 128k of memory, 22k of which was the screen buffer and 14k for the operating system. It is an indication of their intelligence that they not only have kept up, but are still guiding new technology such as the iPhone. And as they said that when they first started out they were always the youngest people in the room, now they are always the oldest.
During the question time, an interesting one that was posed dealt with advice for people starting out with their own business. And both Gates and Jobs maintained what kept them going through the tough times was the fact that they loved what they were doing. You would need that they said because the constant worrying that you do, year after year, would make you give up the business otherwise. In both cases they also married and started their families quite late. They felt that the amount of time they had to spend at their companies would not be fair on a family. Check out the full interview. It’s well worth it.