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Ever wonder what superpowers Steve Jobs or Bill Gates would have in a comic book? Check out our slideshow of what-if tech superheroes (and supervillains). ART: Neil McAllister and Tony Talbert
Although he does have the ability to throw the occasional sheep, Mark Zuckerberg doesn't have superstrength or the ability to fly. What he does have is a database with every single piece of Internet communication you make on your phone or PC. That database contains information on everyone's strengths, weaknesses, and secret identities. He calls it "Facebook".
Backstabbing! Betrayal! Rip-offs! Revivals! The tech world is full of drama--the kind of drama that wouldn't be out of place in a comic book. To drive that point home, we asked Neil McAllister (Adventures of Action Item) and Tony Talbert to create these what-if portraits of our favorite tech personalities as comic heroes and villains. Here are the secret identities that lurk within the world’s top tech luminaries, from Jobs to Gates to Torvalds to Zuckerberg.
Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin aim to solve the world's wars, inequalities, and strife...by uniting everyone under the Google banner. This dynamic duo can always find whatever they're looking for, and they have the uncanny ability to manipulate the weather (well, the cloud, anyway). Backing them up is an army of Androids with a penchant for sweets.
Linus Torvalds fights for truth, justice, and the inalienable right to use a computer without being beholden to anyone. Not only can he code whatever superhero tools he needs to fight for liberty--compiled from tarballs!--but he also gets support for his freedom-fighting ways from his loose-knit confederation of open-source allies. And, of course, his rascally penguin sidekick Tux provides comic relief.
Much like a certain ironclad superhero, Bill Gates once made billions by exploiting the world's markets--except instead of selling weapons, he sold a horribly bloated operating system and a ubiquitous office suite. Shamed by the horrors that he had inflicted upon the world's productivity, he decided to give back by fashioning his own superpowered suit to fight injustice (and malaria in Africa). Fun fact: His suit's optical technology eventually found its way into the Kinect.
Every tech superbeing can trace the origin of their powers back to Ada Lovelace and her work on the Analytical Engine in the 1800s. Official records state that she died shortly after she began to tap the true power of the computer, but conspiratorial types are convinced that she haunts the Internet, lending a hand to the good guys in times of dire need... a friendly ghost in the machine.
We wouldn't even be talking about Yahoo anymore if it weren't for Carol Bartz, who went off the deep end trying to restore Yahoo to its major-player status. She has trained in the ruthless art of Management Fu, and her loyal minions will stop at nothing (short of labor laws) to deliver her to Google's seat of power. Or Facebook's. She's not picky.
After his painful initial ouster from Apple, Steve Jobs underwent a radical transformation. Pride and rage amplified his Reality Distortion Field and his impeccable design aesthetic into a powerful force capable of entrancing men, women, and children the world over. Now, millions of people have been filled with insatiable lust for the turtlenecked tyrant’s shiny tech baubles. Word has it that his secret hit squad, known as The Geniuses, “schedules a visit” with anyone foolish enough to resist their leader’s mind-bending magic.
The Zune, the Kin, Windows Vista...well, those aren’t Steve Ballmer's fault. He’s just really, really excited about Microsoft and technology, and before you know it he's on the CES keynote stage shouting "DEVELOPERS!" over and over again.