Why did Steve Jobs cancel dinner with Bill Gates? A) 'I'm sick', B) 'I'm an asshole'

May 13, 2013 9:33 AM EDT

The death of Apple [AAPL] co-founder, Steve Jobs, still visibly moves close rival and later friend, Microsoft's Bill Gates, who discussed the two men's final meeting at the home of the ailing tech Svengali.

Be hungry, be foolish

They were peers, Gates admits: "We were within a year of the same age, and we were kind of naively optimistic and built big companies."

"Every fantasy we had about creating products and learning new things -- we achieved all of it. And most of it as rivals. But we always retained a certain respect and communication, including even when he was sick."

Gates was visibly moved during last night's interview on 60 Minutes when he spoke of his last conversation with Jobs just before his death in October 2011 (Jobs resigned as CEO in August 2011), revealing the men talked about "what we learned, about families, anything."

"He showed me the boat he was working on and talked about how he's looking forward to being on it, even though we both knew there was a good chance that wouldn't happen," Gates said, with a tear in his eye.

'We did tablets, but Apple succeeded'

The CBS piece also gathered a host of historical footage and outtakes from previous talks with Gates and Jobs. This brings a series of interesting vignettes, such as the moment when Gates is asked what Jobs had that he wanted:

"Oh, his sense of design. That everything had to fit a certain aesthetic.

"The fact that he, with as little engineering background as he had, it shows that design can lead you in a good direction. And so phenomenal products came out of it," he added.

The discussion wasn't confined to memories of the man, but also to his thoughts on the competition between them. Take the tablet industry, for example:

"We did tablets, lots of tablets, well before Apple did," Gates said. "But they put the pieces together in a way that succeeded."

The letter Gates wrote to Jobs that Apple's ailing leader kept by his bed during his final days perhaps best evidences the connection the two men shared. In it, Gates told Jobs that he should be proud of his life's work. "I told Steve about how he should feel great about what he had done and the company he had built," Gates said.

Back to basics

The Microsoft founder also spoke a little about his work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, through which he is directing huge amounts of his personal $67 billion wealth to eradicate deadly disease. He hopes to have eradicated polio by 2018 and to have dealt with tuberculosis within "six or seven years."

Gates is fairly self-revealing in the interview, in which he observes of his work: "Whenever you see a mother bringing a sick child into a facility it's easy to relate to, 'what if that was my child?' You realize how crazy it is that with the world being rich enough to afford all sorts of frivolous things that those basic things still aren't being provided."

Jobs faintly praised Gates' philanthropic work at his final AllThingsD appearance, when he noted that the world was a richer place because: "Bill realized his goal was not to be the richest guy in the cemetery."

[ABOVE: An eye for the future: it is telling that Steve's last televised public appearance saw him explain the company's plans for a vast future HQ in Cupertino.]

'Just tell him...'

One last story sounds very like Jobs. As his illness worsened, Jobs was forced to cancel a dinner with Gates at the last minute: "If he wants to know why, just tell him I'm an asshole," the Apple co-founder said.

Apple's tribute to Jobs remains a fitting and timely tribute to the continuously evolving nature of the company:

"Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple."

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