Behind Every Great Genius Was a Great Rival: “American Genius” Premieres Tonight

For many of America’s boldest, most daring and most creative inventors, the greatest challenge wasn’t beating the odds — it was beating the competition. Behind these iconic innovators are rivals with vision, determination and ambition to match theirs: Tesla vs. Edison, Gates vs. Jobs, Hearst vs. Pulitzer. These are their stories.

Premiering tonight at 9/8c, National Geographic Channel’s American Genius chronicles the competitions in innovation that pit history’s brightest minds against each other in the race to lay claim to the future. The eight-part docudrama event features the brilliant and irrepressible inventors who have made the United States the greatest hotbed of business in the world over the past 225 years.

From Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates to the Wright brothers vs. Glenn Curtiss, each hour of American Genius focuses on a specific rivalry, delving into the fierce power struggles, deceit, fluke timing and raw ambition out of which innovation was born. Powerful, dramatic scenes tell the stories of how iconic masterminds pushed themselves to the limits of human genius, overcoming equally brilliant and ruthless competitors, to turn history’s greatest ideas into reality.

Bold reenactments are woven together with expert interviews — many with modern-day visionaries in their own right — to shed new perspective on the backstories of innovations that have shaped our world. Expert interviewees include Steve Wozniak, will.i.am, Bill Nye, Biz Stone, Mitt Romney, Craig Venter, Steve Wynn, Jack Welch, and Michio Kaku.

Tonight, the mini-series kicks off at 9/8c with Jobs vs. Gates: American Genius: Jobs vs. Gates

In the 1980s, two of America’s most brilliant minds, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, battle to dominate a new age and, in the process, revolutionize billions of lives. Up until this time, most computers were behemoth machines that sat in research labs and university tech centers, largely inaccessible to the public — but not for long. Relive Gates and Jobs’ heated battle to bring the personal computer to the masses. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, entrepreneur and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, politician and businessman Mitt Romney, and others weigh in on the innovation race that forever changed technology and put Microsoft and Apple on the map.

Then, at 10/9c Wright Brothers vs. Curtiss:

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The race for flight is chronicled as aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright face off against Glenn Curtiss in a bitter rivalry that puts lives at risk. After developing the airplane, the Wright brothers keep the technical details under wraps for years, out of fear of losing control of their invention. Meanwhile, Curtiss boldly goes public with his airplanes and innovations and quickly becomes a popular face of flight. The Wright brothers, now patent holders in control of all powered flight, counter with lawsuits; as they hold fast, they stifle innovation in the very industry they’ve launched. Go inside the rivalry so heated that, when Wilbur dies, Orville blames Curtiss for driving him to exhaustion. Scientist Bill Nye, famed theoretical physicist Michio Kaku and others offer insight into the epic showdown that laid the groundwork for modern aviation.

For more, visit natgeotv.com/americangenius to explore the interactive timeline that brings these battles to life like never before.

Comments

  1. Rick Dack
    Minneapolis
    June 2, 2015, 9:15 am

    Jobs vs.Gates was okay. Wright Bros vs. Curtiss disappointing. There was no emphasis on Wrights’ travails in getting the invention to completion – too rushed. If you look at a picture of Wilbur Wright he’s bald – can’t afford a bald wig for the actor? Too busy to get the look Wright (right?).

  2. John Mitchell
    Marion, IA
    June 9, 2015, 4:06 pm

    Great concept for the show. Loved Jobs vs Gates, Wright vs Curtis and the Farsworth vs Sarnoff episodes. Keep them coming.