The Macintosh Partnership
In astronomy, a binary system occurs when the orbits of two stars are linked because of their gravitational interaction.
There have been analogous situations in history,
when an era is shaped by the relationship and rivalry of two orbiting superstars:
Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr in twentieth-century physics,
for example, or Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton in early American governance.
For the first thirty years of the personal computer age, beginning in the late 1970s,
the defining binary star system was composed of two high-energy college dropouts both born in 1955.
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, despite their similar ambitions at the confluence of technology and business,
had very different personalities and backgrounds.
Gates's father was a prominent Seattle lawyer, his mother a civic leader on a variety of prestigious boards.
He became a tech geek at the area's finest private school, Lakeside High,
but he was never a rebel, hippie, spiritual seeker, or member of the counterculture.
Instead of a Blue Box to rip off the phone company, Gates created for his school a program for scheduling classes,
which helped him get into ones with the right girls, and a car-counting program for local traffic engineers.
He went to Harvard, and when he decided to drop out it was not to find enlightenment with an Indian guru but to start a computer software company.
Gates was good at computer coding, unlike Jobs, and his mind was more practical, disciplined, and abundant in analytic processing power.
Jobs was more intuitive and romantic and had a greater instinct for making technology usable, design delightful, and interfaces friendly.
He had a passion for perfection, which made him fiercely demanding, and he managed by charisma and scattershot intensity.
Gates was more methodical; he held tightly scheduled product review meetings where he would cut to the heart of issues with lapidary skill.
Both could be rude, but with Gates--who early in his career seemed to have a typical geek's flirtation with the fringes of the Asperger's scale
the cutting behavior tended to be less personal, based more on intellectual incisiveness than emotional callousness.
Jobs would stare at people with a burning, wounding intensity;
Gates sometimes had trouble making eye contact, but he was fundamentally humane.