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Great quotes from Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Linus Torvalds

We have collected some of the best quotes from three of the most influential people in the history of operating systems: Steve Jobs (Apple), Linus Torvalds (Linux) and Bill Gates (Microsoft).

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Linus Torvalds

Some of these quotes may surprise you, especially the older ones. For your convenience, we have put the quotes in chronological order.

(We have to wonder if we will have left the same trail of quotes a couple of decades from now when Pingdom rules the world (cough)…)

Steve Jobs

Let’s start with the man who co-founded Apple in 1976, left the company in 1985, then came back and saved the day in 1997.

1991:

What a computer is to me is the most remarkable tool that we have ever come up with. It’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.

1994, while he was obviously not working at Apple:

If I were running Apple, I would milk the Macintosh for all it’s worth — and get busy on the next great thing. The PC wars are over. Done. Microsoft won a long time ago.

1996, on Bill Gates:

I wish him the best, I really do. I just think he and Microsoft are a bit narrow. He’d be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.

1997, on Apple products:

The products suck! There’s no sex in them anymore!

2003, a modest comment on the iPod and iTunes:

It will go down in history as a turning point for the music industry. This is landmark stuff. I can’t overestimate it!

2006, on Microsoft:

Our friends up north spend over five billion dollars on research and development and all they seem to do is copy Google and Apple.

2007, on his $1 annual salary:

I make fifty cents for showing up … and the other 50 cents is based on my performance.

Bill Gates

Now on to the man who co-founded Microsoft in 1975 and later became the richest man in the world.

1980:

There’s nobody getting rich writing software that I know of.

1983:

We will never make a 32-bit operating system.

1984:

The next generation of interesting software will be done on the Macintosh, not the IBM PC.

1987:

I believe OS/2 is destined to be the most important operating system, and possibly program, of all time.

1991:

If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.

1993:

The Internet? We are not interested in it.

1995:

There are no significant bugs in our released software that any significant number of users want fixed.

1996, on the oft-quoted “640K ought to be enough for anybody.”

I’ve said some stupid things and some wrong things, but not that. No one involved in computers would ever say that a certain amount of memory is enough for all time… I keep bumping into that silly quotation attributed to me that says 640K of memory is enough.

1998:

Microsoft looks at new ideas, they don’t evaluate whether the idea will move the industry forward, they ask, ‘how will it help us sell more copies of Windows?’

1998, memo to the Office product group:

One thing we have got to change in our strategy – allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by other people’s browsers is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company. We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on PROPRIETARY IE capabilities.

2001:

Microsoft has had clear competitors in the past. It’s a good thing we have museums to document that.

2004:

Spam will be a thing of the past in two years’ time.

Linus Torvalds

Finally, the man who in 1991 started to work on what would become Linux.

1991:

I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones.

1996:

Some people have told me they don’t think a fat penguin really embodies the grace of Linux, which just tells me they have never seen an angry penguin charging at them in excess of 100mph. They’d be a lot more careful about what they say if they had.

1998:

My name is Linus Torvalds and I am your god.

2001:

Do you pine for the days when men were men and wrote their own device drivers?

2003:

Really, I’m not out to destroy Microsoft. That will just be a completely unintentional side effect.

2006:

Talk is cheap. Show me the code.

2006:

Which mindset is right? Mine, of course. People who disagree with me are by definition crazy. (Until I change my mind, when they can suddenly become upstanding citizens. I’m flexible, and not black-and-white.)

2007:

I have an ego the size of a small planet.

2008:

Security people are often the black-and-white kind of people that I can’t stand. I think the OpenBSD crowd is a bunch of masturbating monkeys, in that they make such a big deal about concentrating on security to the point where they pretty much admit that nothing else matters to them.

Sources:

Images from Wikimedia Commons: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Linus Torvalds.

Quotes found on Wikiquote.org.



30 Comments

I thought the Bicycle Steve Jobs quote was from much earlier. http://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?project=Macintosh&story=Bicycle.txt&sortOrder=Sort%20by%20Date&detail=medium&search=bicycle seems to say that it’s from 1981.

Jobs: He knows where he’s at, he knows were he’s heading, and he’s leading the path. May be there are a lot of ideas out there that are better and brighter, but he’s the one with The Cult. (Apparently) Not in this for the money, but he’s after yours and he’s going to get it.
Gates: Thanks God for IBM’s mistakes. Usually clueless, and always a step (or more) behind Jobs. Surely after your money, and he got away with that at least for some time (Couple decades, may be?)
Torvalds: I’m a geek, and I code OSes for fun. I’ll let you use it but remember i made it for ME, so you be your own support. Bear with me, at least I’m funny.

Poor Steve Jobs, had he not dropped so much acid he may have dominated the market.

Poor Bill Gates, if he had any foresight, we’d be in for one hell of a monopolized computing future.

Poor Linus Torvold, if only he, and the rest of the Linux faithful, could get over themselves, we may actually have a flavor of Linux that “just works” ™.

Would have liked to see a mix of good and bad quotes from each, rather than the slanted view here. Interesting idea, but utterly worthless due to apparent the Steve Jobs bias.

Just my opinion…

Those Bill Gates quotes seem incredibly biased, almost all showing him being wrong. Perhaps it is good to realize that somebody so successful could be wrong so often, but if you were going for great quotes you could have gone for something like these:

As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.

If I’d had some set idea of a finish line, don’t you think I would have crossed it years ago?

It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.

Great republication of super reilable wikiquotes.

I love what other people say about Chairman Bill:
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Bill_Gates#Quotes_about_Gates

Awesome! Thanks for posting these!

I think that calling Bill Gates clueless is more than a little harsh, and totally inaccurate; look how many other people missed ‘the Internet’ until many, many years deep into the popularity of the Web? He many have questionable business methods, but he was shrewd enough to capitalize on his competitors mistakes, and has done a lot for charity with his billions.

Do I love the man, or the software his company produces? No. But do I respect what he has accomplished? Absolutely.

Torvald’s “show me the code” is prior to 2006 (at least 2000/2001, maybe even earlier)

hmm, very much biased in the way of the mac, which spoiled it for me a little. Bill Gates is not respected by me because of his bullish business tactics, and I don’t like his quiet smugness. However, I must admit that he was a very good programmer.

In my opinion, Linus Torvalds is the real OS hero, but hey – I am a Linux fanboy of the highest order. I’m definitely biased =D

John

If 640Kb wasn’t enough then why did MSDOS have such restrictive Conventional memory Nightmares?

Dude, get a life, honestly, your quote attempt is just another thing adding to google garbage tank. You are polluting my searches.

BAD

David,

read up on the i8086 and 8088 chips some time. They have
a whooping 20 address lines, allowing you to address all
of 1048576 single bytes of main memory.

Considering that the main BIOS, BIOSes for extension cards
such as VGA and SCSI, and video memory have to go somewhere,
640K was fought out hard (by billg, even).

Plus, if you wouldn’t use VGA graphics modes, you had another
64 KiB segment free to use.

Can you post sources for these quotes?

Very good post… I like the BIll’s one:

Spam will be a thing of the past in two years’ time.

… Like a visioner? or what?? :P

Matthew,

These are from http://en.wikiquote.org/

It’s a wiki focused entirely on quotes (as you can guess from the domain name…). They list the sources of the quotes whenever they are available.

I am sure Torvalds has a lot more funnier quotes than what was listed.

How about this: “Software is like sex it is better when free” or something like that?

Seems to me I remember Bill Gates saying something to the effect that there wouldn’t BE any computer viruses if everyone used Windows. I think it was about 15 years ago, shortly after an especially nasty virus had affected nearly the whole world. At the time, I thought it was not only arrogant, but incredibly stupid. Personally, I was glad I was running a Mac at the time so the only viruses I worried about were the one that came in through Microsoft Word documents (which I generally avoided by using Apple’s word processor).

Does anyone remember the quote?

@Alex

As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.

If I’d had some set idea of a finish line, don’t you think I would have crossed it years ago?

It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.

All of those sound like marketing double-speak to me, and don’t really give me any clue as to who Bill Gates really is. Those quotes could have come from any number of CEO’s in the world. The provided quotes give us a much better idea of who the real Bill Gates is.

Typical for Gates… I can’t think of anyone else that (undeservedly) proud of sub-mediocre quality in their products.

It’s evident, looking at every version of IE, that MS has never been interested in the Internet.

All the 3 men are very flexible with words (or changing their minds) just that the first 2 don’t seem to be openly saying it.

John said regarding Bill Gates:

“However, I must admit that he was a very good programmer.”

What lead you to this (questionable) conclusion?

Microsoft has had some very good programmers over the years — Paul Allen and Gordon Letwin leap to my mind immediately — but Bill was more of a manager and businessguy than a programmer.

So we have gates on record saying something explicitly evil..
….and then he says patents are /good/ for software.

It’s hard to call someone a complete and total idiot when they have that much money. *sigh*

Bill Gates was right about spam! We moved our corporate email to google apps, and it’s all but disappeared!

It’s clear though that only Steve Jobs had the vision of how technology should be. Torvalds is a kernel hacker which is a tiny part of an OS. And if he had some vision, he’d have made a fixed ABI (or maybe 3 versions total) for drivers, Linux also suffers badly from lib version hell. If you ever upgrade your packages, even with stable packages, it’s a roller coaster ride of “will it work, will it break…??”, even after all this time. I think another kernel will push out Linux, or a forked one with a fixed ABI for drivers.

Linus’s problem is he doesn’t think strategically because he’s always just looking at the code, Bill Gates doesn’t think strategically because he’s always just looking at the money (but Steve Balmer seems to have decided he’s an architect of the future, but doesn’t seem to be doing a great job right now). It was only Steve Jobs that actually had an idea where he was going with the technology.

Actually everyone needs some humour in their life, and Apple under Jobs has been great in this regard. When he showed the Microsoft media centre controllers with zillions of buttons, and then brought out the simple and excellent front row remote, it was so funny.

The Mac vs PC ads seem to get some folks backs up, but this just highlights mad fanboy-ism.
What I find incredible is the level of copying that Vista attempted on OSX, with the Aqua theme, the sidebar, the search.

Anyway, I went down the Vista route, and for me it was hopeless, so I’m going down the Mac route again. I’m still running Linux, but lib version hell makes it a chore for even someone with admin abilities sometimes (I use both Debian and Ubuntu, and neither is problem free).

What torvalds fails to grasp about OpenBios is that they aren’t into pointlessly changing things that are tested and working. He likes to keep writing code and changing things, but for real people, this just makes things break all the time. You *could* tread lightly and be more choosy over features you add, but it would help to have a plan/vision in the first place. (one especially that is consistent with regular people’s desires).

MSDOS is not limited to 640K.

MS-DOS was originally a subtly different product to PC-DOS. PC-DOS was for IBM Clones, and generally had a 640-K limit, primarily due to some hardware design decisions made by IBM (large amounts of address space reserved for memory mapped graphics).

Initially, before “PC Compatible” became the watchword, there were numerous other vendors offering systems with MS-DOS, that were NOT “PC Compatible” (and therefore did not suffer from some of the IBM hardware decisions). I used one of these for several years, and it could deliver around 990K of conventional memory.

Heh, all you fools sit and idolize jobs. He is not a visionary, he is all about marketing. Apple products are crap, but they look great and have one or two good features that make optimal selling points.

Apple is the airhead cheerleader clique of the high school that is the tech industry. They are easily the best arm candy and they always make sure they are the center of attention, which they admittedly excel at.

After you spend top dollar for their time you then realize that when it comes time to do actual work, they’re really quite allergic to it.

Google-User, I agree that it’s odd when people compare Linus to Steve to Bill. Three guys in really dissimilar technical roles.

Why do people see the need to compare these guys constantly anyway? It seems like a bizarre form of idol worship to me. All three guys have done a really good job, and produced highly useful tech.

Bill’s company has made software that makes it easier to manage business IT.

Linus helps to develop a top notch kernel. My family has used only Ubuntu at home for a long time and we love it.

Steve. Well.. The only Apple product I’ve used is the ipod, but all the songs I bought were in a proprietary format, so when I switched to Ubuntu they didn’t work. The iPod battery went dead and Apple replaced it, but informed me that any further tech calls would cost me $50.00. It stopped working again so I just threw it in the trash. I’ll just take my chances without Apple products from here on out. Doubt I’m really missing much. :) Fortunately Apple has poor product penetration in the business, so hopefully I never have to use their products there.

I wish people would stop saying that Macs have no right click. Ever heard of the Mighty Mouse? Ever just hooked up a two button mouse to a Mac? How about a 5 button mouse?

It takes all of three or four clicks to enable it. Click preferences, mouse and keyboard, mouse, and select secondary button in the drop down. Four clicks. Three if the mouse tab is already selected.

Trust me, not only does it work, but it has worked for what… 8 years or so since OS X was released?

@All for one Yes you are exactly true, also, i want someone to tell me one thing apple created, actually made the hardware for and created