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If tech battles were kung-fu movies, Steve Jobs would be Jackie Chan. Earlier this week, the Apple CEO took on all comers, smack-talking Google, BlackBerry, and practically anyone else who dared do battle with his precious iPhone and iPad.

All in all, it was a pretty impressive display, and it was enough to get executives at Google, RIM, and TweetDeck all up in his grill. But how does it compare to some of the all-time best tech battles?

We’ve broken down some of our favorites from over the years to see how Jobs vs. Google/RIM stacks up. Let’s just say that nothing puts a verbal tiff into perspective quite like watching some grainy footage of a circus elephant getting electrocuted on Coney Island.

VHS vs. Betamax

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Two formats enter; one format becomes obsolete. Sony was first to market with its Betamax player in 1975. The first VHS player followed two years later from JVC. VHS had a few advantages in the fight, including pricing and recording time–and then, of course, there’s the fact that there was no pornography available on Betamax. VHS eventually cornered the market–until it was replaced by a bunch of shiny plastic discs.

Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD

Sony came back with a vengeance in the early 2000s. The company offered up the Blu-ray disc–it’s successor to the standard DVD. Toshiba’s offering, the HD-DVD, was cheaper, but offered less in the way of capacity. A number of high profile tech companies came out in support of their preferred format. Blu-ray claimed Dell, HP, Panasonic, and Mitsubishi, among others. HD-DVD, meanwhile had Sanyo, Intel, Microsoft, RCA, and a few more. Sony eventually won this round, thanks in no small part to the inclusion of a Blu-Ray player in the PlayStation 3.

Microsoft vs. Apple

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Apple kickstarted the world of personal computing with 1977′s Apple II. Thanks to operating systems like MS-DOS and Windows in its various iterations, Microsoft would soon assert its dominance over the industry. But while Microsoft continues to control the lion’s share of the market to this day, the battle is far from over, both in the PC space — where Apple has made headway in recent years –, and through other platforms, including phones, MP3 players, and tablets, to name a few.

Edison vs. Westinghouse/Tesla

Thomas Edison went head to head with Nikola Tesla and Westinghouse in the late-1880′s War of the currents. To prove that the Tesla/Westinghouse AC (alternating current) was more dangerous than his own DC (direct current–which was the standard at the time), Edison spent a lot of his free time electrocuting stray cats and dogs (he called the electrodeath getting “Westinghoused”). His big opportunity came when Coney Island employees had to put down an elephant after it killed three people. Topsy ultimately died in vain, as AC was recognized as a superior technology.

Farnsworth vs. RCA

Given the sheer ubiquity of the product he gave the world, Philo Farnsworth’s name isn’t quite so instantly recognizable as some might expect. Farnsworth’s numerous inventions, including the video camera tube and the image dissector, were essential in the development. RCA attempted to buy out his patents and make him an employee for $100,000. Farnsworth refused and a drawn out legal battle ensued. Thnks to a 1934 decision by the U.S. Patent Office, Farnsworth ultimately won. Sixty-five years later, he lent his last name to a Futurama cast member. Win-win.

Russia vs. U.S.A.

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Sick and tired of fighting one another on this planet, the US and Russia took their battle into the cosmos–the Space Race, which is generally considered to have spanned the late-50s to the mid-70s, defined the tangible tensions between the two nations better than anything–aside from Rocky IV, naturally. Russia scored early victories, launching Sputniks 1 and 2 (the latter of which carried a dog named Laika [pictured]) in 1957. In 1961, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. In 1969, however, the US had the last laugh when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon.

United States vs. Microsoft

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The 90s presented a huge fight for Microsoft over concerns about the company’s alleged monopolistic practices. The government began its investigation into the company early in the decade, finally brining it to court in 1998 with the attorneys general of twenty states on board. Microsoft was found guilty of monopolistic practices in 2000–ultimately, however, the government opted not to break up the company.

Apple vs. Adobe

Jobs is at the center of yet another recent on-going tech battle. The CEO’s decision to ban Adobe’s near ubiquitous publishing platform, Flash, from the iPhone (and later the iPad) has been the source of much debate and executive name-calling in recent years. Jobs has knocked the software for being closed, clunky, and a security threat, pushing publishers to embrace the HTML5 standard instead. While other mobile OS manufacturers have embraced Flash, Jobs never did give in.

Napster vs. Metallica

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The RIAA got an unlikely ally in the form of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich after the band discovered that a demo it had recorded had leaked to file-sharing service, Napster. Ulrich filed suit against the company at the U.S. District Court in California, naming Yale, Indiana University, and USC in the case. Napster lost, filed Chapter 11, and was eventually re-born as a music subscription site.


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