During an interview with Charlie Rose that aired on CBS’s “60 Minutes” Sunday evening, an emotional Bill Gates talked about his final visit with Steve Jobs, relating how the two tech pioneers discussed subjects ranging from their family life to the future of technology in education.
Gates’ appearance on the television program was prompted by his charity work for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. But unaired footage from the interviews later posted online by CBS offers a rare glimpse into the final encounter between two fierce competitors, whose passion for technology and indifference for the status quo forever altered the landscape in which we operate.
In reference to the final May 2011 meeting between the two in Jobs’ home in Palo Alto, a damp-eyed Gates said the two discussed a wide-variety of topics, “what we’d learned, families… anything.” The two practically “grew up together,” Gates said, and despite their fierce competitive streaks, respected each others contributions.
“We were within a year of the same age, and we were kind of naively optimistic and built big companies,” Gates said. “And every fantasy we had about creating products and learning new things, we achieved all of it. And most of it as rivals. But we always retained a certain respect and communication, including even when he was sick.”
Jobs’ days were clearly numbered at the time of the meeting. However, Gates said Jobs was “not being melancholy, like ‘Oh, I’ve been gypped.’” Jobs spoke of the future, and shared his disappointment how that the two of them, despite their accomplishments, had failed to significantly improve education through technology.
Gates spoke of the traits he admired in Jobs, saying: “His sense of design, that everything had to fit a certain aesthetic. The fact that he, with as little engineering background as he had, it shows that design can lead you in a good direction. And so phenomenal products came out of it.”
Gates also credited Jobs and his employees with “putting the pieces” together on tablets that Microsoft simply could not.
Jobs shared the plans for his custom, 260-foot aluminum yacht dubbed “Venus” that was being built at the time. “He showed me the boat he was working on,” said Gates, “and talked about how he’s looking forward to being on it, even though we both knew there was a good chance that wouldn’t happen.”
Oh, to have been a fly on the wall for any of the conversations that took place over the years between these two technology titans.