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​Gates solves Apple vs. Microsoft debate, kinda

During a Reddit Ask Me Anything, Microsoft's co-founder credits Xerox for creating the graphical interface that influenced both him and Apple's Steve Jobs.


Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, shown here at event last fall for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, answered questions Monday during a Reddit AMA.

James Martin/CNET

Between Microsoft and Apple, who really copied whom when it came to the companies' original graphical interface?

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates attempted to put an end to the debate on Monday, when he said neither. Instead, Gates said, both of those companies copied Xerox.

"The main 'copying' that went on relative to Steve [Jobs] and me is that we both benefited from the work that Xerox PARC did in creating graphical interface -- it wasn't just them but they did the best work," Gates said in a Reddit Ask Me Anything on Monday. "We didn't violate any IP rights Xerox had but their work showed the way that led to the Mac and Windows."

Gates is something of a celebrity Reddit user, regularly participating in the site's Secret Santa gift exchanges and AMAs. Since his first AMA in 2013, he's netted more than 71,000 comments.

Besides his views on Xerox being the graphical interface pioneer, Gates answered questions about some of his favorite TV shows ("Silicon Valley," "The Crown" and "Downtown Abbey") and how he wears a hat in public for disguise. The Microsoft co-founder also said that the next technological advancement he'd like to see in his lifetime is computers to become a bit more like humans.

"The big milestone is when computers can read and understand information like humans do," Gates said. "Right now computers don't know how to represent knowledge so they can't read a text book and pass a test."

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