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A Question of Taste (Steve Jobs and Bill Gates)

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Uploaded on Sep 10, 2007

Andy Hertzfeld (Google - GOOG) provides an insight into Steve Jobs (Apple AAPL, NeXT and Pixar CEO) and the relationship with Bill Gates (Microsoft MSFT). It also includes a clip of Gates acknowledging how he admires Steve Jobs' ability and sense of taste.

This is a compilation from three different programs.
*NerdTV with Andy Hertzfeld (2005)
*Triumph of the Nerds (1996)
*D5 conference Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (2007)

In 1996 "Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires" aired on PBS. Technology journalist Robert X. Cringely takes us through an information superhighway journey of how the world changed in a program that chronicles the birth and growth of Silicon Valley's personal computer industry.

In one of the pinnacle moments of the program Steve Jobs describes the problem he sees with Microsoft (MSFT):

Steve Jobs
"The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste, they have absolutely no taste, and what that means is - I don't mean that in a small way I mean that in a big way. In the sense that they they don't think of original ideas and they don't bring much culture into their product ehm and you say why is that important - well you know proportionally spaced fonts come from type setting and beautiful books, that's where one gets the idea - if it weren't for the Mac they would never have that in their products and ehm so I guess I am saddened, not by Microsoft's success - I have no problem with their success, they've earned their success for the most part. I have a problem with the fact that they just make really third rate products."

(this can be found at the Triumph of the Nerd Transcript).

In September 2005 Robert X. Cringely set out on another quest of interviews with NerdTV again presented on PBS. Andy Hertzfeld (The first Macintosh programmer...ever) tells a story about what Steve Jobs thought of the "Triumph of the Nerds" documentary.

Andy:
"Yeah. Steve came over to my house shortly after it aired in 1996. I asked him what he thought of the documentary. He said he thought it was really good, but when he watched it on TV he thought his comment about Bill Gates having no taste might have been a little too harsh. So he called Bill Gates to apologize.

I don't know how you call Bill Gates, but if you are Steve Jobs you get right through. He said, "Bill I'm calling to apologize. I saw the documentary and I said that you had no taste. Well I shouldn't have said that publicly. It's true, but I shouldn't have said it publicly."

And Bill Gates replied, "I'm glad you called to apologize, Steve, because I thought that was really an inappropriate thing to say."

Steve couldn't help himself, he said, "You know it's true, it's true you have no taste."

And Bill Gates responded to him, saying "Steve, I may have no taste, but that doesn't mean my entire company has no taste."

So Bill admitted he had no taste, but thought it was an unfair slur to say that MICROSOFT had no taste.

(laughter)

------

At the D5 Conference Steve Jobs and Bill Gates appear for an interview on the same stage for the first time in 20 years since their interview together for Fortune Magazine. The following is a transcript of what took place:

Lise:
Lise Buyer. Question, I guess it's historical curiosity. You approached the same opportunity so very differently. What did you learn about running your own business that you wished you had thought of sooner or thought of first by watching the other guy?

Bill:
Well, I'd give a lot to have Steve's taste. [laughter] He has natural--it's not a joke at all. I think in terms of intuitive taste, both for people and products, you know, we sat in Mac product reviews where there were questions about software choices, how things would be done that I viewed as an engineering question, you know, and that's just how my mind works. And I'd see Steve make the decision based on a sense of people and product that, you know, is even hard for me to explain. The way he does things is just different and, you know, I think it's magical. And in that case, wow.

Clips from:
NerdTV: http://www.pbs.org/cringely/nerdtv/sh...
D5 Conference:
http://d5.allthingsd.com/

Transcripts are available online by following the links.


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