National Geographic recently premiered a new, eight-part docu-drama series entitled “American Genius.” The basic goal of the series is to entertain and inform by examining the work of two prominent American inventors, and pitting them against each other so that audiences can measure their accomplishments against a comparable rival. The first episode focuses on “Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates,” the late inventor and co-founder of Apple, Inc. against the young programmer that innovated the Windows PC operating system, and who founded Microsoft.
One person who might have a unique perspective on this pairing is Steve Wozniak, another co-founder of Apple, Inc. and the programmer who helped bring the Apple II computer to life as one of the first major products that the company would produce in its early life. Speaking with Variety, Wozniak gave his insight about what separates the two men on multiple levels: philosophically, and meritoriously, but he also reflects on the image of Jobs as a titanic inventor in the years since his death.
When directly asked about the differences between Jobs and Gates, Wozniak had a very clear and concise perception about what sets the two men apart.
The real differences between where Steve Jobs is portrayed compared to Bill Gates is Steve Jobs having a very futuristic forward vision, almost a bit of the science fiction, “Here’s what life could be.” But Bill Gates had more of an execution ability, to build the things that are needed now, to build a company now, make the profits now, in the short term.
When asked about how this dramatization about the man he worked with can come off when compared with the film Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher, Wozniak very clearly expressed that he has confident in National Geographic’s presence and emphasis on research.
I’m thinking that ["American Genius"] is going to turn out a lot better [than the Ashton Kutcher film] because first of all, you’re starting out with National Geographic and a lot of credibility and things on the line they can’t risk by trying to be overly dramatic or [taking] a side. I think it’s more searching for the truth when it comes from National Geographic.
Wozniak was also asked about whether or not the real essence of Steve Jobs, as Wozniak knew him, is something that can be adequately captured in a dramatic setting, or whether it’s something that could only be effectively conveyed in an interview setting.
…I absolutely feel that it can be captured and has been captured in drama style…. “Pirates of Silicon Valley” was intriguing, interesting. I loved watching it. Maybe because it was first, it caught more attention. I thought they did a better job [than Jobs starring Kutcher] because everyone shown in there was portrayed very awkwardly because you don’t know the personalities of people in Apple like [former] CEO John Sculley. You just don’t know it because he wasn’t in the press enough and visible enough. So, you portray him wrong.
“American Genius” premiered this past Monday on National Geographic. Subsequent episodes will pit other symbols of intelligence like Nicola Tesla, Thomas Edison, William Randolph Hearst, Joseph Pulitzer, and the Wright Brothers. Check local listings for time and channel.
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