Steve Jobs: ‘My worst and stupidest staging event’

October 24, 2011, 4:40 PM UTC

Gates looming over Jobs at Macworld 1997

Among the highlights of the excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs in the current issue of Fortune is the story of how Jobs repaired Apple’s (AAPL) relationship with Microsoft (MSFT) just in time to get Bill Gates to participate in his 1997 MacWorld keynote. Jobs waited until the end to introduce, after a dramatic pause, Apple’s new partner and investor. Suddenly Gates’ face appeared, to boos and catcalls, on a giant screen.

“That was my worst and stupidest staging mistake of my life,” Jobs told Isaacson. “It was bad because it made me look small, and Apple look small, and as if everything was in Bill’s hands.”

“The scene,” writes Isaacson, “was such a brutal echo of Apple’s famous 1984 Big Brother ad … that you half expected (and hoped?) that an athletic woman would suddenly come running down the aisle and vaporize the screen with a well-thrown hammer.”

The excerpt is available on newsstands today and free to Fortune subscribers on the iPad (a free excerpt of the excerpt is available here).

Not to be missed in the Fortune issue: Gates’ reaction when he first set eyes on the iPod and the moment when Jobs drops his “over my dead body” resistance to porting iTunes to Windows.