REV: MARCH 19, 2010
ANTHONY J. MAYO
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs
When IBM wanted an operating system for its Personal Computer, it turned to Gates. When Apple needed software for its Macintosh, it gave Microsoft a test model to use in writing the programs. Gates helped with the design of Radio Shack's Model 100, the first truly portable computer… Thanks to that business (and more), Gates… has become America's software tycoon.1
— 1984 Time article, “Bill Gates: A Hard-Core Technoid” Jobs is, in a sense, the anti-Gates: a master of hardware, not software; a trailblazer, not a follower; a creator, not a cloner; an iconoclast, not a consolidator of industry standards.2 — 1998 Time article, “Steve Jobs: Apple’s Anti-Gates”
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were born in 1955, midway through the unprecedented birth rate explosion in the United States after World War II. Both grew up on the West Coast, and their youth was shaped by the political and social stirrings of the 1960s. Like many in their generation, they were influenced by society’s emphasis on science and technology. Though both dropped out of college, both were avid students in the emerging fields of electronics and computers.
William Henry “Bill” Gates III was born on October 28, 1955, in Seattle, Washington to William Henry Gates Jr. and Mary Maxwell Gates. Bill’s ancestors were among the first to settle in this part of the Pacific Northwest. His great grandfather, William Henry Gates Sr., migrated from Pennsylvania to Washington in search of fortunes westward, and upon hearing news of the discovery of gold in Alaska, picked up his family and belongings and proceeded north to Nome. Bill’s father served in the U.S. Army during World War II, and after his discharge, attended the University of Washington through the financing available under the GI Bill.3 At college, Bill’s father met his future wife Mary, a sorority president from a prominent banking family in Southwest Washington that was active at the local level in the organization now known as the United Way. The two married in 1951, the year that the U.S. Census Bureau received a UNIVAC, the first computer capable of handling both numerical and textual inputs. (See Exhibit 1 - Computers, Computer Systems and Languages Timeline, 1935-1999.) Bill was their second of three children – his older sister, Kristianne Gates was born in 1953, and his younger sister, Libby Gates was born in 1964. Steven P. “Steve” Jobs was born on February 24, 1955, in San Francisco, CA, and was raised from birth by adoptive parents, Paul and Clara Jobs. Paul Jobs hailed from a strict Calvinist farm family ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Lecturer Anthony J. Mayo, Director, Leadership Initiative, and Research Associate Mark Benson prepared this case. This case was developed from published sources. HBS cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Copyright © 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 President and Fellows of Harvard College. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-545-7685, write Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to http://www.hbsp.harvard.edu. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the permission of Harvard Business School.
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs
from Indiana. Paul’s life was greatly impacted by the Great Depression and the wind storms that created the barren lands known as the Dust Bowl. Paul Jobs dropped out of high school, then spent the next few years as a migrant farmer in the Midwest, when he could find work. After a...
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