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Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates is a multi-pane webcomic series illustrating a brief exchange between Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. The series drew much attention from Internet humor and technology communities due to the widely publicized rivalry between the two companies, as previously seen through the classic Mac vs. PC debate.
The photographs of Jobs and Gates having a conversation were taken during a panel session hosted by All Things Digital co-executive editors Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at the D: All Things Digital conference (D5) on May 31st, 2007. The interview session focused on how Microsoft and Apple came to be some of the most influential companies and most well-known corporate rivals in the world.
The iconic photograph of Gates and Jobs laughing together was taken by Joi Ito and uploaded via Flickr later that same day. However, the earliest known instance of a multi-pane comic based on Ito’s photographs didn’t emerge until it was highlighted on the Internet humor blog Sad and Useless on May 16th, 2010.
In the following days, the blank template quickly spread through the grapevines of the tech news blogosphere, as well as on Reddit, NowPublic, Quickmeme and Memebase among others. Throughout May 2010, hundreds of derivative comics were created and shared online. The popularity of the meme eventually reached its plateau, but saw a major resurgence in the wake of Steve Job’s death in October 2011, prompting a second wave of coverage in the tech news world and tribute comics on 4chan, Reddit and BuzzFeed.