• A new documentary about the rivalry between Microsoft and Apple founders Bill Gates and Steve Jobs has period clothes - and computers.
The rivalry between Microsoft's Bill Gates and Apple's Steve Jobs propelled the early days of the computer revolution - and has been re-created for a new documentary. But who was the mightiest of them all?
Shane Cubis

12 Aug 2016 - 12:46 PM  UPDATED 12 Aug 2016 - 12:46 PM

It’s one of the age-old rivalries, stretching back into the mists of time: Microsoft vs Apple (apparently they made an ad or two about it back in the day).

Now Genius: Personal Computers: Jobs Vs Gates on SBS On Demand has reopened all those old wounds from schoolyard fights about whether something should be named after a hole in a wall or the ninth letter of the alphabet. Ahead of the National Geographic examination of the bitter rivalry between the tech titans using actors to play the men and with interviews of their friends and colleagues, it’s time to settle this once and for all.

And what better way than this article, written in Microsoft Word and researched on an iPhone?


Origin story

One man went back to volunteer at his old school library after he moved away, because he was so dedicated to the job. The other dropped out of college, went to India and shaved his head, dropped acid and returned to America to live on a commune before founding a company named after fruit. Also, he had a Syrian dad.

Winner: Jobs, unless you’re really into dedicated librarians.


Management skills

Gates is demanding and confrontational, up for hours-long fights over disagreements with co-workers. He wants to win at all costs, and hates complacency. Jobs has been referred to as a “corporate dictator”. He was headstrong, blunt and didn’t seem to care (or realise, sometimes) when he hurt someone’s feelings.

Winner: Gates, by a nose. He might thrive on conflict, but at least he never sacked the head of a department in front of his whole team during a meeting.



How many times have you heard the story about Steve Jobs whimsically attending a calligraphy course at college, leading to the first Macintosh computers having a range of fonts? It’s a cliché at this point, but realistically you can’t look at the products pumped out by Apple since those brightly coloured iMacs and not give it to him.

Winner: Jobs, by a landslide.


Bill Gates has given more money to charity than people dream of winning in a lottery. He and his wife plan to give away close to all their wealth over time. Steve Jobs had a crack, but shut down Apple’s philanthropic divisions when profitability was suffering, and closed his own public foundation after 15 months of operation.

Winner: Gates takes the cake. And the candles, too.


Plagiarism Innovation

Yeah, maybe Microsoft changed the way we interact with the world, but Apple was there first with the icon-led graphics interface and mouse. Of course, Jobs saw a lot of this stuff in development at Xerox before “adding” them for the Macintosh. So...you know. One man’s innovation is another man’s plagiarism.

Winner: Ummm, Jobs. But with a twist of supervillainy.


Survival instinct

When Jobs had pancreatic cancer, he initially decided to treat it with acupuncture and fruit juice. Gates not only has regular check-ups, his foundation is supporting efforts to eradicate diseases that threaten other members of his species, such as polio and Guinea worm.

Winner: Yeah, we have to award this to the guy who trusts his doctor. Gates is the Destiny’s Child of this match-up.


Are you happy now?

We’ve scientifically concluded that neither man is objectively better than the other one. Now we don’t have to talk about it ever again.


Genius: Personal Computers: Jobs Vs Gates is available on SBS On Demand. Watch it right here:

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