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Earn & Invest

Jun 14, 2021

Let me start with Ron Friedman’s Forthcoming book: Decoding Greatness: How The best in the World Reverse Engineer Success.

Ron Starts the book with a story: and I’m going to  quote it here. Ron says:

“By the time Steve Jobs finds out he’s been betrayed, it is already far too late. The press conference is over and the news is out. Slowly, it dawns on him: Apple’s head start is about to disappear. The year is 1983, and we are in Cupertino, California. The computer company Jobs cofounded is barely seven years old. Its rise has been meteoric. In a few short years, Wall Street will place its value at over a billion dollars. But now, just six short weeks from the release of Apple’s boldest innovation yet, the Macintosh, Jobs discovers he’s been scooped. The blow arrives from more than twenty-five hundred miles away, in the lavish ballroom of New York City’s famed Helmsley Palace hotel. Onstage, standing before a gaggle of reporters, Bill Gates has just announced Microsoft’s plans to develop a user-friendly operating system—one with more than a few striking similarities to the Macintosh.”

Gates was a vendor of Jobs the time. So inevitably, the next day, there is a face-to-face showdown.
Friedman says…
“Jobs wasted little time tearing into him. “You’re ripping us off!” he yelled, his underlings glaring, all eyes on Gates. “I trusted you, and now you’re stealing from us!”
”Gates took it in quietly. He paused a moment, not once looking away. Then, he casually delivered a devastating line, rendering the entire room speechless: “Well, Steve, I think there’s more than one way of looking at it. I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox, and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it.”

You see…”among Xerox PARC's countless inventions was a personal computer most people have never heard of: the Alto. It offered many of the same features that would come to distinguish the Macintosh, like graphics that made computers easier to use, and a mouse for communicating commands. Except the Alto was developed a full decade earlier.”

And both Gates and Jobs had reverse engineered their groundbreaking products from the alto.

Friedman goes on to say

“The practice of reverse engineering, of systematically taking things apart to explore their inner workings and extract new insights, is more than an intriguing feature of the tech industry. For a surprising number of innovators, it’s a tendency that appears to have emerged organically, as something of a natural inclination”

Today on Earn & invest we discuss reverse engineering and it’s role in creative and successful endeavors.