Did Bill Gates steal the GUI concept from Steve Jobs?

In the realm of technology and innovation, few rivalries have captured the public imagination as much as that between Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, and Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple. One persistent claim that has persisted for years is that Bill Gates allegedly stole the concept of the graphical user interface (GUI) from Steve Jobs. In this article, we will examine the historical context, explore the evolution of GUI technology, and dispel the myth surrounding this controversial issue.

The Xerox PARC Connection

To understand the origins of the GUI, we must look back to Xerox Corporation’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in the 1970s. Xerox PARC was at the forefront of technological innovation, and it was there that the foundations of the GUI were laid. Xerox engineers, including Douglas Engelbart and Alan Kay, pioneered the concepts of windows, icons, and pointing devices.

Apple’s inspiration

Steve Jobs visited Xerox PARC in 1979 and was inspired by the advances in GUI technology. He saw the potential of this user-friendly interface and envisioned its application in Apple’s future products. Apple’s Lisa computer, released in 1983, was the first commercially available computer to feature a GUI. However, despite Jobs’ enthusiasm for the GUI, he did not create it from scratch.

Microsoft’s entry

It is true that Bill Gates and Microsoft also recognized the potential of GUI technology. In the early 1980s, Microsoft began developing its own GUI-based operating system called Windows. However, it is important to note that Microsoft’s Windows was not a direct copy of Apple’s GUI. Windows had its own unique design and functionality, and it evolved over time with subsequent versions.

Legal battles

The rivalry between Apple and Microsoft led to lawsuits, with Apple accusing Microsoft of copyright infringement. The most notable lawsuit, Apple v. Microsoft, was filed in 1988. The court ultimately ruled in favor of Microsoft, stating that the visual displays in question were elements of the GUI concept that belonged to Xerox, not Apple. This legal decision reinforced the fact that the GUI was an evolution of ideas, not the exclusive creation of any one individual or company.

Collaboration and Innovation

While the competition and legal battles between Apple and Microsoft were fierce, it is important to recognize that both companies contributed to the advancement of GUI technology. Each made its own unique contributions and innovations, building on the foundation laid by Xerox PARC.

Evolution of ideas

The development of the GUI was not a sudden revelation or a single “eureka” moment. It was an iterative process in which many individuals and organizations built on each other’s ideas. The concept of using windows, icons, and a pointing device to interact with a computer system evolved over time through experimentation, research, and technological advances.

Influence of Prior Art

Before Xerox PARC, there were earlier examples of graphical interfaces that influenced the development of the GUI. For example, Ivan Sutherland’s “Sketchpad” in the 1960s demonstrated the use of a graphical interface with a light pen. Engelbart’s “Mother of All Demos” in 1968 demonstrated concepts such as windows, hypertext, and collaborative computing. These early innovations laid the foundation for the GUI and influenced subsequent developments.

Cross-pollination of ideas

The exchange of ideas and cross-pollination of concepts was common in the era of technological innovation. Innovators, including Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, did not work in isolated silos. They were part of a larger community that shared knowledge and ideas. Not surprisingly, Jobs was inspired by the work of Xerox PARC and sought to incorporate GUI technology into Apple’s products.

Independent implementations

Both Apple and Microsoft independently implemented GUI-based operating systems, albeit with different approaches and design choices. Apple’s Lisa, and later the Macintosh, featured a GUI that showcased their unique design philosophy, while Microsoft’s Windows developed its own unique style and functionality. These different implementations demonstrate that multiple companies were simultaneously exploring and refining GUI technology.

Impact on the Industry

The introduction of GUI technology revolutionized the computer industry and had a profound impact on the user experience. It made computers more accessible to a broader audience by replacing complex command line interfaces with intuitive graphical representations. GUIs paved the way for future innovations and influenced the design of user interfaces on various devices, including smartphones and tablets.

Legacy and collaboration

Despite the rivalry between Apple and Microsoft, it is worth noting that the two companies eventually collaborated on various projects. In the mid-1990s, Microsoft invested in Apple, and the collaboration resulted in the development of Microsoft Office for Macintosh computers. This collaboration highlights the intertwined nature of the technology industry and the shared pursuit of innovation.


The claim that Bill Gates stole the GUI concept from Steve Jobs is a myth that overlooks the complex history of technology development. The GUI was not a single invention, but a collaborative effort that evolved over time. Xerox PARC’s pioneering work laid the groundwork, and both Apple and Microsoft played important roles in refining and popularizing GUI technology. It is important to recognize the contributions of multiple individuals and organizations, rather than reducing the story to a simple tale of theft. By understanding the historical context and the collaborative nature of innovation, we can appreciate the true advances in GUI technology and the lasting impact it has had on the world of computing.


Did Bill Gates steal the GUI concept from Steve Jobs?

No. The Answer is No, Bill Gates did NOT steal Steve Jobs’s idea. The GUI was first built by Xerox. Steve Jobs used the idea to build Macintosh and later Bill Gates did the same with Windows.

Who Did Apple steal the GUI from?

Many of its innovations such as the graphical user interface, a mouse, and document-centric computing, were taken from the Alto computer developed at Xerox PARC, introduced as the $16,595 Xerox Star in 1981.

What did Bill Gates steal from Jobs?

Though they had a somewhat amicable relationship early on, Jobs became furious when Microsoft released its first iteration of Windows in 1985, accusing Gates of ripping off his Macintosh computer.

Did Bill Gates invent the GUI?

No. The GUI concept was created by xerox.

Did Steve Jobs invent the GUI?

One of the things Xerox showed Jobs was the Alto, which sported a GUI and a three-button mouse. When Jobs saw this prototype, he had an epiphany and set out to bring the GUI to the public. Apple engineers developed Lisa, the first GUI-based computer available to the public.
19 дек. 1997

Did Microsoft steal Apple ideas?

Steve Jobs once said that Microsoft stole Windows from Apple, but both sides have snatched plenty of ideas over the years. Although Mac fanboys and Windows zealots don’t like to admit it, the fact is that both Windows 7 and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard contain features that originated in the other OS.

Who had the first GUI?

Xerox Palo Alto Research Center

The first GUI was developed by researchers at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in the ’70s. This research opened a whole new era of computer graphic innovations. The first personal computer which used a modern graphical user interface was the Xerox Alto, developed in 1973.

Whose idea did Steve Jobs steal?

Apple’s design wizard, Jonathan Ive, considered Jobs a friend. But he bristled when the Apple chief took credit for his ideas.

What software did Bill Gates steal?

But here’s what Gates did: he bought a program from a small software company called the Quick and Dirty Operating System (or Q-DOS), for the price of 75,000$. Q-DOS was, in fact, a ripoff of Gary’s CPM program. He then changed its name to MS-DOS (Microsoft DOS) and licensed it to IBM.

Why Bill Gates was jealous of Steve Jobs?

It is difficult to make definitive statements about the personal feelings of individuals. However, it is known that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had a complex relationship that was characterized by both competition and mutual respect. While there may have been moments of jealousy or rivalry between them due to their roles as influential figures in the technology industry, it is important to note that they also collaborated and recognized each other’s contributions. Overall, their relationship was characterized by a mix of professional admiration, competition, and differing philosophies about technology and business.

Who created the GUI Xerox Apple or Microsoft?

The origin story of GUI dates back to the 1970s. And it features no shortage of corporate skullduggery and missed opportunities. GUI was pioneered by computer engineers at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (aka. PARC).

Did Apple create the first GUI?

Lisa is a desktop computer developed by Apple, released on January 19, 1983. It is one of the first personal computers to present a graphical user interface (GUI) in a machine aimed at individual business users. Its development began in 1978.

Did Steve Jobs steal from Wozniak?

Although Atari gave Jobs $5,000 for the game, Jobs told Wozniak they got $700, leaving Wozniak to take home $350 while Jobs pocketed the other $4,650. Jobs was moved to the night shift when working at Atari due to complaints about his hygiene.

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