Bill Gates was wrong to underestimate Steve Jobs. In just 12 years, his company's market value has increased by more than $300 billion.

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In 1998, Vanity Fair's Bob Cringely sat down with Bill Gates, then-CEO of Microsoft, for a piece that was never published. MacDailyNews reminds us that, during that interview, Gates told Cringely that Steve Jobs was wasting his time by trying to take control of Apple once again. "What I can't figure out is why he is even trying (to be the CEO of Apple)," Gates said. "He knows he can't win."

Gates had some reason to think Jobs' mission was worthless. At the time, Apple's stock was trading at about $7.25 and the company had a market cap of $6 billion. To put that in perspective, Microsoft's market cap was close to $250 billion and stock was trading at $29. But Gates never should have underestimated Jobs.

When the market closed on Friday, Apple had a market value of just over $317.5 billion, or about $0.8 billion more than the market value of both Microsoft ($201.59 billion) and Intel ($115.21 billion) combined. "This may [be] the first time Apple has exceeded the portmanteau," the Unofficial Apple Weblog notes, referring to Wintel, a term long used to describe personal computers running Microsoft Windows on an Intel processor.

Chart: The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW).

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