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History Will Revere Bill Gates and Forget Steve Jobs, Says Author 679

Hugh Pickens writes "PC Magazine reports that journalist Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and Outliers, has stirred up quite a controversy in tech circles with his off-the-cuff remarks that history will remember Bill Gates fondly while Steve Jobs slips into obscurity. Gladwell likened Gates' charitable work to the German armaments maker Oskar Schindler's famous efforts to save his Jewish workers from the gas chambers during World War II, and added that because of Gates there's a reasonable shot we will cure malaria. 'Gates, sure, is the most ruthless capitalist. And then he decides, he wakes up one morning and he says, "Enough." And he steps down, he takes his money, takes it off the table ... and I think, I firmly believe that 50 years from now, he will be remembered for his charitable work,' said Gladwell. 'And of the great entrepreneurs of this era, people will have forgotten Steve Jobs. Who's Steve Jobs again?' For all his dismissal of Jobs' legacy, however, Gladwell remains utterly fascinated with him. 'He was an extraordinarily brilliant businessman and entrepreneur. He was also a self-promoter on a level that we have rarely seen,' said Gladwell. 'What was brilliant about Apple, he understood from the get-go that the key to success in that marketplace was creating a distinctive and powerful and seductive brand.' Gladwell concludes that the most extraordinary moment in the biography of Jobs is when Jobs is on his deathbed and it's over and he knows it. 'And on, I forget, three, four occasions, he refuses the mask because he is unhappy with its design. That's who he was. Right to the very end, he had a set of standards. If he was going to die, dammit, he's going to die with the right kind of oxygen mask. To him it was like making him send his final emails using Windows.'"
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History Will Revere Bill Gates and Forget Steve Jobs, Says Author

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  • error in submission (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alphatel ( 1450715 ) * on Sunday June 10, 2012 @08:23AM (#40273539)

    ..it was like making him send his final emails using Windows

    The problem is twofold. First of all, sending an email using Windows is actually better than using a Mac, which treats email like some archaic throwback to the dark ages.
    The second is that Jobs hatred of Windows was as much a blessing as it was a curse. There was nothing wrong with giving people a decent car to drive. So what if it is not god's gift to mankind. It is amazing that Steve did what he did but it was driven by his perception of what is better. Ultimately both were businessmen who did well. One left to focus on something else. Both will be dead. Both will be remembered. And it's unlikely that either will fade.

  • by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @08:41AM (#40273631)

    Not in the DRC. A friend of mine is a producer for National Geographic, and they've just finished filming a documentary there. Those mosquito nets that Gates is paying to have distributed? Most people use them...as nets to catch fish. This is one of the big problems with non-profit groups. They often seem to be more focused on how hard they are trying than about how effective their actions really are.

  • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @08:50AM (#40273701)

    Kind of hard to build a legacy when you're DEAD.

    PC Magazine was always in the tank for M.S. anyway.

  • by tirefire ( 724526 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:01AM (#40273773)
    I read Gladwell's book Outliers a few months back. I thought he made some reasonable, if somewhat obvious points, until he went completely off the rails when he discussed differences in math schooling between China and the US.

    In short, he said that the way chinese count gives them an edge in learning calculus, because the chinese say the number 13 as "three and ten", building the number out of simpler, more fundamental numbers, whereas in the US children must learn an entirely new word: "thirteen". He ignored how studying calculus concepts like differentials and integrals at a young age (I think around junior high age) is the norm in China, whereas in the US, students only get a watered-down "pre-calc" in their senior year of high school unless they're really ambitious and they take AP classes in their later teens.

    There's an excellent review of Outliers that was published in The New Republic available here [powells.com], for those with a lugubrious interest in learning precisely why we should ignore Gladwell.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:09AM (#40273833)

    The author is not really saying that Bill Gates will be known for Microsoft or Intellectual Ventures. Yes, his software were extremely flawed. Yes, he contributed greatly to the nightmare that is the Intellectual Property system of the U.S. But all of that doesn't matter.

    It doesn't matter because Bill bought a "Get out of Jail" card with the Gates foundation. The ignorant masses will remember him as they remember Alfred Nobel. Ask the average idiot (defined as non-Slashdot reader) what they know about Nobel and they will immediately say "Peace Prize". The average idiot will not know about his relation to the development of dynamite and other explosives, his production of armaments, or even the death of his brother.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:11AM (#40273847)

    Both men were (or are) assholes. Businessmen intent on screwing their competitors, colleagues, customers, whoever to make a buck.

    Yes, they were faithful worshippers of the God of Ego. Get ahead, screw everyone else, throw to your lapdogs and underlings only as many scraps off your table it takes to keep them from walking away. That's what we select for. That's what Western culture is all about. The only reason the Soviets and the USA needed a doctrine like M.A.D. is because this mentality needs a *selfish* reason not to blow up the planet.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:12AM (#40273855)

    A wonderful aspect to 'history' is its ability to weed out bias of current times. Bill Gates will have his footnote in history but it will be for Microsoft's massive damage to IT development along with crippling the growth of the Internet and for the Gates Foundation's active participation in killing off public education for a segregated, limited access, privatized school system and the boosting of Big Pharma's unlimited growth at the expense of actual health-related problems. Bill Gates has always been a very opportunistic, profit-driven capitalist.

  • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:20AM (#40273909)
    Gladwell, and let me emphasise that this is my personal opinion and I am willing to be persuaded otherwise by evidence, always strikes me as a journalist who has risen without trace, is treated as some sort of philosopher god by a coterie, and yet, like the old Chinese meal joke, ten minutes after reading one of his articles you forget that you read anything and want some intellectual sustenance.

    For a real world example though, the biggest medical charity in the world is possibly the Wellcome Trust. Its single biggest achievement is, in effect, preventing Venter from patenting the human genome and thus keeping almost all modern medical research open. How many people know or care who founded it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:26AM (#40273973)

    Wait, I'm lost. Is this Apple Or MS you're talking about?

  • ugh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by buddyglass ( 925859 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:29AM (#40273997)
    Look at some of the guys history remembers. Thomas Edison? Henry Ford? We don't remember Henry Ford because of the Ford Foundation either. Gladwell seems to think the historical fame of entrepreneurs is based mainly on their charity. Why? Jobs will be remembered not just because he guided Apple to be the most capitalized company ever, but because he was a "character" while doing so. The black sweater and tennis shoes, the hippie past, the dickish behavior behind closed doors, the fact that he was fired then brought back, etc.
  • by samoanbiscuit ( 1273176 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:52AM (#40274175)

    I do think their attempts at lockdown are anticompetitive.

    Their attempts have been extremely successful. They've learnt a really Hollywood lesson, "if you're cool enough, you can get away with anything". As someone who buys iPods but will never buy a Mac, I'm stuck between horrified fascination and geeky indignation. They're so cool they have the tech media fantasizing about how cool their new Mac Pros will be, and what they might look like, whereas if HP or Lenovo had taken years to release a new workstation refresh they'd just get endless complaints. Amazing, yet horrifying.

  • by blibbler ( 15793 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:54AM (#40274185)

    I think you are misreading history. However, even if you are right, it doesn't mean that Gates' efforts to rebrand himself won't work. Alfred Nobel developed dynamite, and made his millions selling explosives. He decided to change his image after he saw a mistakenly printed obituary calling him a merchant of death. He spent his money creating the Nobel prizes. Today the overwhelming majority of people associate the name Nobel with the prizes he created, and in particular the peace prize.

    In other words, even if Gates is the demon you seem to think he is, it doesn't mean that a bit of well placed money won't whitewash his image.

  • by Lussarn ( 105276 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:13AM (#40274301)

    When it comes to Jobs it's more like "Jobs contributed to charity until proven otherwise". I've read he was hell of a programmer too. To bad nobody have seen a single line of code written by him.

  • by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:27AM (#40274403) Homepage

    Windows machines of the time weren't a vast improvement on my Amiga 1200. They cost 10 times as much and despite all the raw computing power were slower and less reliable.

  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:46AM (#40274547)

    You mean NSAPI? Both are nothing more than equally powerful plugin systems. You know whats better, ActiveX pretty much what Mozilla does with XPCOM now.

    Remind me again what the actual flaws are in ActiveX so I can tear you a new asshole pointing out how you really have no clue.

    ActiveX is no different and no less secure than any other plugin system, its simply a globally available plugin system. ALL really OSes have them, sorry your missing out. IE's had bugs and a bad implementation that made ActiveX easy to use to exploit, but that has absolutely nothing with ActiveX itself.

    When you guys make idiotic statements about ActiveX you just make it entirely clue you're just an ignorant fanboy and anyone with a clue stops listening to you.

    Its almost as dumb as pretending that anyone followed any 'standard' back then. Standards didnt' matter until Microsoft wiped Netscape off the face of the Earth, and they needed something to use as a battlecry for their recovery.

  • by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @11:20AM (#40274781) Homepage
    It's not that clear cut. He didn't believe in just throwing money at a problem to look good. He did however have the Steven P. Jobs Foundation briefly in the 80's (before foundations became the popular con amongst billionaires), he and Apple did work with Bono's Red and many people assume it was him that gave $150 million to Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center but it was done anonymously so who knows? Quite frankly whoever that anonymous person is I think that's much more admirable to give away $150 million than start a foundation that largely invests its money in pharmaceutical companies that refuse to lower prices for poor countries or invests in oil companies causing bronchitis, asthma and vision problems for many in Africa due to all the pollution they cause burning off oil and other stuff.
  • by recoiledsnake ( 879048 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @11:21AM (#40274793)

    Maybe you weren't around in the 1980s. Everything was proprietary and super expensive. MS broke this by licensing MS-DOS to Compaq over IBM's objections. This triggered an avalanche of new companies like Dell and competition between hardware OEMs which drove down prices and made PCs affordable by giving users hardware choice Even Linux started out on x86 compatible chips.

    From Compaq's WIki entry:

    In November 1982 Compaq announced their first product, the Compaq Portable, a portable IBM PC compatible personal computer. It was released in March 1983 at $2995, considerably more affordable than the Canadian Hyperion. The Compaq Portable was one of the progenitors of today's laptop; some called it a "suitcase computer" for its size and the look of its case. It was the second IBM PC compatible, being capable of running all software that would run on an IBM PC. It was a commercial success, selling 53,000 units in its first year and generating $111 million in sales revenue. The Compaq Portable was the first in the range of the Compaq Portable series. Compaq was able to market a legal IBM clone because IBM mostly used "off the shelf" parts for their PC. Furthermore, Microsoft had kept the right to license the operating system to other computer manufacturers. The only part which had to be duplicated was the BIOS, which Compaq did legally by using clean room reverse engineering at a cost of $1 million.[12][13][14] Phoenix Technologies would shortly follow their lead, but soon "clone BIOSes" were available from many other companies who reverse engineered IBM's design, then sold their version to the PC clone manufacturers.

    What about Dell then?

    Dell traces its origins to 1984, when Michael Dell created PCs Limited while a student at the University of Texas at Austin. The dorm-room headquartered company sold IBM PC-compatible computers built from stock components.[7] Dell dropped out of school in order to focus full-time on his fledgling business, after getting about $300,000 in expansion-capital from his family.

    In 1985, the company produced the first computer of its own design, the "Turbo PC", which sold for US$795.[8] PCs Limited advertised its systems in national computer magazines for sale directly to consumers and custom assembled each ordered unit according to a selection of options. The company grossed more than $73 million in its first year of operation.

    The company changed its name to "Dell Computer Corporation" in 1988 and began expanding globally. In June 1988, Dell's market capitalization grew by $30 million to $80 million from its June 22 initial public offering of 3.5 million shares at $8.50 a share.[9] In 1992, Fortune magazine included Dell Computer Corporation in its list of the world's 500 largest companies, making Michael Dell the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company ever.[10]

    Would these companies have succeeded if Microsoft did not license MS-DOS to them? Remember that all we had then were super expensive proprietary hardware, and driving down the costs led to the PC revolution(and then the internet revolution) across the world. Why did Linus start Linux on a x86 and not an Apple? Even Apple switched to x86 hardware in 2005 to drive down costs. Also, having one platform to develop for reduced costs for developers, instead of having of spend a lot of effort to support multiple competing platforms, monoculture has it's advantages and a lot of drawbacks too.

    Bill Gates' vision was a computer on every desk, at work and at home(unlike IBM's) and he succeeded. And once he succeeded immensely, instead of turning into another Scrooge Mcduck, he left everything, including the company he founded to work full time helping and visiting the worst off people in the world who can't even afford a phone, forget about a PC and spending tens of billions of dollars on preventing and curing AIDS. It sickens me to see people attacking him for it in various ways, based on their extreme biases like about Netscape self destructi

  • by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @11:23AM (#40274799)

    Except he did it long before he got cancer. To quote David Bunnel, publisher of Macworld, about a visit he made to Apple headquarters in the early-80's [tumblr.com]:

    “We could tell that Steve was in, because his blue Mercedes was parked in the handicap zone in front. As I was to learn, Steve always parked there."

    The quote then goes on to talk about Steve doing it because disgruntled Apple employees (Disgruntled Apple employees?! How is this possible?!!??!?!!?) would key his car when he parked it in back. Obviously the reasonable solution, if your Steve Jobs, is not to put security cameras up or anything realistic...no, the solution is to just park in a handicapped spot because fuck all those crippled people, I'm Steve Jobs and the rules don't apply to me, and besides, the sanctity of my Mercedes is more important than their legal right to a parking spot near the front doors.

  • Add to that, that Jobs did give money to charity, except Jobs didn't advertise it, while gates apparently did it because it was 'expected' for the billionaires club.

    Gates has gone way above and beyond the billionaires club expectations. He has given away more than any other person in history, both in current or real dollar measurements.

    He also has setup his will so that his family gets a paltry percentage of his wealth.

    Pickup Forbe's 500 richest people list. No-one on it has given nearly the kinds of sums away as he has.

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @12:41PM (#40275365)

    Right. "Force" people to use computers that were a vast improvement over what they had before, or help all kinds of underprivileged people via an array of humanitarian efforts. Yup, definitely a scumbag. He gave us Windows, after all, and might have prevented other multinationals from making more money than they did.

    The accusation isn't that Windows failed to improve the status quo. It's that Windows held back the rate of progress in the state of the art. e.g. Pre-emptive multitasking. In pre-emptive multitasking, the OS controls the CPU and decides how long each app gets to use it. The OS pre-empts the app and takes the CPU away from it when its time is up, whether the app is done or not.

    The alternative is cooperative multitasking. That's where the OS literally hands over the CPU to each app and asks "please give it back when you're done using it." It relies on the app to cooperate with the OS. If an app didn't give it back in a timely fashion, your system lagged. Worse yet, if the app hung or crashed before giving it back, your system locked up even though the OS and other apps were fine. Windows 3.x, 95 and 98 used cooperative multitasking. Because Microsoft owned the market, people just accepted that that was the way computers were - prone to lagging and crashing.

    But pre-emptive multitasking had been around since the 1970s on mainframes, and the 1980s on home systems (CP/M, AmigaOS, and QDOS). Even OS/2 - MIcrosoft's initial joint effort with IBM to replace DOS with a graphical shell - supported pre-emptive multitasking by 1992. So why did Windows users suffer with cooperative multitasking until nearly 2000? Because Microsoft didn't want to share control of the OS market with IBM. They screwed over IBM on OS/2, and developed Windows completely in-house as a replacement instead. They basically used those earlier versions of Windows as a way to keep customers, as they worked on polishing Windows NT (which supported pre-emptive multitasking) as a replacement. The drawback of NT was that it didn't support DOS apps (even though OS/2 did in 1994), so it wasn't until Windows 2000 (which was based on NT) when most of the world had been weaned off of DOS apps that Windows users finally got a taste of pre-emptive multitasking.

    Oh I mentioned OS/2. I must be one of those OS/2 nuts and thus my point is invalid, right? Ok, then how about Windows' security model? Muli-user OSes have distinguished between user and root privileges since about when multi-user systems were first invented in the 1960s. But Windows traces its roots back to DOS. Windows 3.x was actually a graphical shell which ran on top of DOS. Same for Win95 and Win98, except they used an integrated version of DOS. DOS has no concept of user privileges - an app can do anything and everything it wants to do with the computer. It wasn't until Windows Vista that Microsoft tried to correct this by forcing apps to run with user privileges by default instead of with admin privileges. The bulk of Windows' security issues and users suffering from virus and botnet infections stem from Microsoft's failure to make a timely transition to the obvious user / root privilege model.

    Need another example? Internet Explorer. When the World Wide Web became the next big thing, Microsoft completely missed the boat. Netscape owned the next frontier in computing. Microsoft couldn't stand for that, so they leveraged their OS monopoly to gain browser market share by bundling IE for free (thus forcing Netscape to give away Navigator for free). Once IE eventually won market dominance (over 90%) and the competition had been pretty much vanquished from the market, what did Microsoft do? They rested on the laurels. For nearly 1.5 years, they did not make a single improvement to IE - the only updates were security updates. It wasn't until Firefox started gaining market share that Microsoft decided IE was worth spending developer time on. The state of the art of browser te

  • by Dan667 ( 564390 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @02:39PM (#40276447)
    But I also know that andrew carnegie was a jerk. And I expect that is how gates will also be remembered. You cannot buy your way into heaven.
  • by JakartaDean ( 834076 ) on Monday June 11, 2012 @05:47AM (#40281113) Journal

    I was just discussing this on G+ where it was claimed that Billy boy has wiped out Polio in the third world. To which I said, Uh, No.

    Bill Gates has temporarily suppressed Polio in certain parts of the third world and helped sell it out in the process. In order to get vaccinations you have to provide strong IP protection to Big Pharma. So strong that if your people are dying and you make the medication to save them instead of buying it because you can't afford it that the WTO will end up owning your asshole. Meanwhile, they're not going to get into every nation, which is what it actually takes to eradicate a disease. Instead they are lending a false sense of security while creating a ticking time bomb.

    The drive to eradicate polio around the world is sponsored by the WTO, the CDC and Rotary International (oops, I just checked and now Unicef has been added). The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a big donor, contributing at least $1 billion, but they do not call the shots. Further, polio vaccines are not protected by IP laws, you might want to google Salk and Sabin, or even just visit the polio eradication web site. [polioeradication.org] How you got so misinformed I have no idea, but you really should at least conduct a simple fact search on the internet before putting your online name against such poppycock.

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