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Microsoft

Bill Gates Remembers 1979 310

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-don't dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Last week Gizmodo had a special celebration of 1979, the last year before a digital tsunami hit, that put Bill Gates in a nostalgic mood this week. Bill chimed in with his own memories of that seminal year when everything changed. 'In 1979, Microsoft had 13 employees, most of whom appear in that famous picture that provides indisputable proof that your average computer geek from the late 1970s was not exactly on the cutting edge of fashion,' wrote Gates. 'By the end of the year we'd doubled in size to 28 employees. Even though we were doing pretty well, I was still kind of terrified by the rapid pace of hiring and worried that the bottom could fall out at any time.' What made Gates feel a little more confident was that he began to sense that BASIC was on the verge of becoming the standard language for microcomputers. 'By the middle of 1979, BASIC was running on more than 200,000 Z-80 and 8080 machines and we were just releasing a new version for the 8086 16-bit microprocessor. As the numbers grew, we were starting to think beyond programming languages, too, and about the possibility of creating applications that would have real mass appeal to consumers.' Gates remembers that in 1979 there were only 100 different software products that had more than $100 M in annual sales and all of them were for mainframes. 'In April, the 8080 version of BASIC became the first software product built to run on microprocessors to win an ICP Million Dollar Award. Today, I would be surprised if the number of million-dollar applications isn't in the millions itself' writes Gates. 'More important, of course, is the fact that more than a billion people around the world use computers and digital technology as an integral part of their day-to-day lives. That's something that really started to take shape in 1979.'"
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Bill Gates Remembers 1979

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  • Dr. Who (Score:5, Funny)

    by billy901 (1158761) on Monday July 27, 2009 @10:18AM (#28836731) Homepage
    Sweet. Just go back to 1979 and we can prevent it all!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by shacky003 (1595307)
      I have to get this thing up to 88mph, right?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        And a lightning bolt. You need the lightning bolt to charge the flux capacitor, unless you happen to have a fusion reactor on hand....

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Sponge Bath (413667)

        87mph ought to be enough for anyone.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Okay what's so special about 1979? It's not as if PCs didn't exist prior to that point. Wasn't the Apple II released two years earlier? And Atari 400/800 PCs one year earlier. Contrary to Gate's revisionist history, the revolution did not start with Microsoft.

        Even a year later in 1980 the world wasn't really any different - people still watched analog television recorded onto analog VHS tapes (or Betamax). Some had laserdiscs which were... also analog... or RCA videorecords that used 100-year-old needl

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by dave87656 (1179347)

          It was also the second OS with the ability to do preemptive multitasking (the first being the Amiga ten years earlier).

          Xenix had been around since the 1980. Coherent since 1980. These were true preemtive multi-tasking operating systems that ran on PC hardware.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Arg. I don't care how shit you think the Windows OS is, Gates' philanthropy is worth it.

      • Re:Dr. Who (Score:4, Insightful)

        by The_Wilschon (782534) on Monday July 27, 2009 @10:54AM (#28837251) Homepage
        Are you sure of that? If it weren't for Windows' stranglehold, OS design would be probably a decade ahead of where it is now, millions of man-hours would not have been lost to fixing/cleaning up malware/etc, and we'd all probably be a little bit richer. Is one multi-billionaire philanthropist worth a thousand multi-millionaire philanthropists?
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Well, mathematically, yes.

        • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

          by Darkness404 (1287218)
          It depends though, some of us might be richer, however some of us might be poorer because we made a lot of money doing tech support with issues that wouldn't have been there if it wasn't for Windows. Now, I don't think this is an excuse for how buggy Windows is, but its an interesting aspect.
        • Re:Dr. Who (Score:4, Funny)

          by stms (1132653) on Monday July 27, 2009 @11:14AM (#28837573)

          Is one multi-billionaire philanthropist worth a thousand multi-millionaire philanthropists?

          Yes one multi-billionaire philanthropist is worth exactly a thousand multi-millionaire philanthropists.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          Are you sure of that? If it weren't for Windows' stranglehold, OS design would be probably a decade ahead of where it is now, millions of man-hours would not have been lost to fixing/cleaning up malware/etc, and we'd all probably be a little bit richer. Is one multi-billionaire philanthropist worth a thousand multi-millionaire philanthropists?

          Do you also think that Billavius Gatus the axe-maker's axe market domination prevented the advancement of the axe for 3000 years? In other words, do you honestly believe that success stifles progress?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Runaway1956 (1322357)

          "OS design would be probably a decade ahead"

          I tend to agree with that. BUT, maybe not. I hate Gates, but when you start talking about "What if?" no one can know. If Gates hadn't come along to help popularize computers, it's possible that we wouldn't be as far along now as we are. Whatever else Gates did, right and wrong, he DID help to make it easy for your average dimwit to get started in computing. Ultimately, his actions made helped to make computers look desirable to a lot of people who would never

          • by Bluesman (104513)

            Taking this a bit further; there had to be a de-facto standard for home computers before they were adopted by the masses. Just like Blu-ray and HD-DVD can't co-exist, and Beta and VHS before that, etc. The majority of people won't participate until there's a clear winner.

            Gates was lucky to be there at the right time on the right platform, and his ruthlessness ensured that Microsoft would be a standard. If it weren't him, it would have been someone else.

            But until that happened, there wasn't the same relen

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by mdwh2 (535323)

              Whilst a "standard" has its advantages, unfortunately Microsoft aren't comparable to other standards. Can anyone come along and write their Windows compatible OS? Are there other companies doing so? No. It would be like if there was only one company that could make VHS or Blu-Ray, or if all computers were made by IBM.

              But until that happened, there wasn't the same relentless drive for faster, better, cheaper computers that we take for granted today. The Commodore 64 was popular for years with identical hardw

          • Re:Dr. Who (Score:4, Insightful)

            by arose (644256) on Monday July 27, 2009 @01:37PM (#28840361)

            BECAUSE Gates and others had the vision of a putting an affordable computer in every home [..]

            Gates vision doesn't matter, it was IBM-PC clone makers who made it possible. It could have been any OS that could run games, ANY.

          • Re:Dr. Who (Score:4, Insightful)

            by SpinyNorman (33776) on Monday July 27, 2009 @03:21PM (#28842061)

            BECAUSE Gates and others had the vision of a putting an affordable computer in every home, millions of youngsters today have the opportunity to learn, who may not have been exposed to comptuers unti they reached college age.

            Huh?

            How do you figure Microsoft had anything to do with it?

            First off, IBM PCs and clones were originally for business use. For home use people used Apple ][, TRS-80, Commodore PET Sinclair ZX-80, Acorn BBC micro, etc, etc. Nothing to do with IBM or Microsoft.

            The idea of making computers based on commodity hardware and open standards wasn't new to the IBM PC (and had nothing to do with Microsoft). Before the IBM PC + DOS standard there was the S-100 bus and CP/M.

            If Microsoft had never existed it'd just mean that IBM chose another OS for the IBM PC, or obtained DOS direct from Seattle computer rather than via Microsoft. If the IBM PC never took off then the existing S-100 + CP/M would have continued until something better came long. And in the meantime the hobbyists would still be running all the other computers being produced by everyone else!

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Darinbob (1142669)

              The idea of making computers based on commodity hardware and open standards wasn't new to the IBM PC (and had nothing to do with Microsoft). Before the IBM PC + DOS standard there was the S-100 bus and CP/M.

              IBM didn't have much at all to do with standards. When it tried (the PS/2) it was mostly ignored. Even the clone makers weren't really about standards so much for a long time, as what resulted were defacto standards as the clone makers just tried to be compatible with each other while being just one step ahead.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Opportunist (166417)

          Maybe it would be. Maybe, though, that whole "computer stuff" would not have taken off as it did and computers would still be the toys of geeks because nobody else could figure them out, the internet would still be the geeks' meeting place because nobody else could figure out how to connect to it...

          Say about MS what you want, but they knew how to make things easy for the masses. You could connect to the internet using Windows a decade ago without knowing whether TCP/IP was a protocol or the abbreviation for

      • by thelexx (237096)

        So the ends justify the means then? Wow.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rennt (582550)
        Worth it indeed. The fact that he has accumulated more wealth then you could spend in 100 lifetimes; so deigns to donate a fraction of it on his pet-charities, speaks volumes of the chronic failure of our economic system.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hitmark (640295)

        only that he seems to run his philanthropy like he ran microsoft.

        was there not something on /. a while back about the gates foundation requiring exclusivity agreements from scientists its sponsored?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by fprintf (82740)

      Just don't also decide to go back and take care of Hitler. Everyone does that their first time and it is annoying to have to go back and fix it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 27, 2009 @10:20AM (#28836765)

    Microsoft doesn't release an operating system in 5 years - people bitch. Microsoft releases a new operating system - people bitch. Microsoft's operating system drops some legacy support for some apps - people bitch. Despite Microsoft giving literally over a year of public betas for hardware vendors to get their drivers up to scratch, they don't - people bitch at Microsoft. Download Squad makes a bunch of childish remarks - everyons agrees.

    How many of you have actually used Vista on decent hardware (post-2004) and had problems with it? That doesn't include: I don't like the search features, I don't like the fact that 512 megs of my 2 gigs of ram that I don't use anyhow are taken up, I want my 5 extra frames of Counter-strike back that were way above my monitor's response time and refresh rate back.

    Been using Vista since Beta 2 and haven't had any problems aside for some Nero 7 incompatibilities (that were fixed during RC1) and some ATI driver issues during RC1. Just as stable as XP (didn't have any problems with it either, so I can't say more stable), more responsive and generally better to use.

    • That doesn't include: I don't like the search features, I don't like the fact that 512 megs of my 2 gigs of ram that I don't use anyhow are taken up, I want my 5 extra frames of Counter-strike back that were way above my monitor's response time and refresh rate back.

      I understand what you are and why I should not be responding to you, but you force a good question: Why don't those count? If I had an "upgrade" that forced uncomfortable functionality and a drop in performance (excluding hardware incompatibilities like the giant printer fiasco) on me without bringing anything new to the table (you DID just say that its just as stable as XP), AND I had to shell out $$$ for it, I'd be pissed too. Even if I didn't have to shell out $$$ for it, its something I would avoid.

    • "Microsoft doesn't release an operating system in 5 years - people bitch. Microsoft releases a new operating system - people bitch. Microsoft's operating system drops some legacy support for some apps - people bitch."

      Could the reason be that Gates and Ballmer are bitches?

    • by ledow (319597)

      "How many of you have actually used Vista on decent hardware (post-2004) and had problems with it? That doesn't include: I don't like the search features, I don't like the fact that 512 megs of my 2 gigs of ram that I don't use anyhow are taken up, I want my 5 extra frames of Counter-strike back that were way above my monitor's response time and refresh rate back."

      Oooh, ooh, ooh, I'll take this one!

      Decent hardware - 2007 new purchase machines do you? A "viability" project for professional deployment of Del

    • How many of you have actually used Vista on decent hardware (post-2004) and had problems with it?

      I have, but the problems were very mild and the computer really did feel faster than XP. Copying gigs of data through identical versions of iTunes was significantly faster. I also enjoy looking at Vista much more: no more 1-pixel-wide fonts when using 1920x1200 resolution. It still lags behind a modern Linux distro in the look and feel department, but it's clearly an improvement over "Windows 2000 with a blue Start Bar."

      Ultimately, I reverted to Windows XP because of sound latency issues with Vista. I'm

    • How about the fact that interface makes me feel seasick, I'm sick and tired of either having to constantly click OK or disable UAC entirely, and it is, in fact, less responsive then XP on the same hardware. Yes, the hardware is post-2004; 2.4GHz dual core with 8GB DDR-2 RAM. Oh, and arbitrarily hiding options, that have been in one location for multiple releases now, under menus and menus of crap.

      Yes, I have serious problems with Vista, and yes, I actually used it for a long time. I switched to the Win

  • I know some of the more senior geeks here will scoff, but I learned programming with BASIC back in 2004-2005. I know there's a lot of hate for Microsoft and VB, but I fondly remember the simple language that built the two.
    • Re:BASIC is good. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by stjobe (78285) on Monday July 27, 2009 @10:26AM (#28836863) Homepage

      I too taught myself programming with BASIC, but a tad bit earlier than you - around the year the article is about to be honest, maybe a year or two later... Sinclair ZX-80, let me count the ways I'm thankful to you :)

      BASIC -> Z80 assembler -> DOS batch -> bash -> Perl -> Java, sometimes I miss the early days of typing in code listings from ZX Magazine and the like, trying to find out why the code worked (or not, more likely). Aah, better days - or maybe it was just that I was better then ;)

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by UnixUnix (1149659)
      The horny divorcee, huh (Remembering a classic, http://www.columbia.edu/~sss31/rainbow/prog.lang.html [columbia.edu])
    • Some of the senior geeks remember HP BASIC, etc. and using it to do real work. I've seen CFD and FEA done with Quick Basic on a 386 in a laboratory environment. If your choices were BASIC and FORTRAN (both were common in engineering applications in the 80's and on through the '90's), the BASIC compiler was often cheaper by an order of magnitude and more approachable.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 27, 2009 @10:22AM (#28836803)

    "In 1979, Microsoft had 13 employees [...] By the end of the year we'd doubled in size to 28 employees."

    With arithmetic like that no wonder Windows is the sleek model of perfection it is...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "In 1979, Microsoft had 13 employees [...] By the end of the year we'd doubled in size to 28 employees."

      With arithmetic like that no wonder Windows is the sleek model of perfection it is...

      Yeah! He should have said "By the end of the year our employees increased by 2.153 times". But nooooo! He had to use an approximation when telling his story.Yep, it's proof that he's just incredibly unintelligent and incapable of writing good software! /sarcasm

      Jackass.

    • by mcgrew (92797)

      He was probably using Excel... [slashdot.org]

  • But it shouldn't be too surprising that there might be so many million dollar products today compared to 1979 since the dollar has been decimated in value since in the last 30 years by inflation. A million dollar app in 2009 dollars would be worth nearly $3M.
  • by shoppa (464619) on Monday July 27, 2009 @10:22AM (#28836813)

    By William Henry Gates III
    February 3, 1976

    An Open Letter to Hobbyists

    To me, the most critical thing in the hobby market right now is the lack of good software courses, books and software itself. Without good software and an owner who understands programming, a hobby computer is wasted. Will quality software be written for the hobby market?

    Almost a year ago, Paul Allen and myself, expecting the hobby market to expand, hired Monte Davidoff and developed Altair BASIC. Though the initial work took only two months, the three of us have spent most of the last year documenting, improving and adding features to BASIC. Now we have 4K, 8K, EXTENDED, ROM and DISK BASIC. The value of the computer time we have used exceeds $40,000.

    The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they are using BASIC has all been positive. Two surprising things are apparent, however, 1) Most of these "users" never bought BASIC (less than 10% of all Altair owners have bought BASIC), and 2) The amount of royalties we have received from sales to hobbyists makes the time spent on Altair BASIC worth less than $2 an hour.

    Why is this? As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software. Hardware must be paid for, but software is something to share. Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid?

    Is this fair? One thing you don't do by stealing software is get back at MITS for some problem you may have had. MITS doesn't make money selling software. The royalty paid to us, the manual, the tape and the overhead make it a break-even operation. One thing you do do is prevent good software from being written. Who can afford to do professional work for nothing? What hobbyist can put 3-man years into programming, finding all bugs, documenting his product and distribute for free? The fact is, no one besides us has invested a lot of money in hobby software. We have written 6800 BASIC, and are writing 8080 APL and 6800 APL, but there is very little incentive to make this software available to hobbyists. Most directly, the thing you do is theft.

    What about the guys who re-sell Altair BASIC, aren't they making money on hobby software? Yes, but those who have been reported to us may lose in the end. They are the ones who give hobbyists a bad name, and should be kicked out of any club meeting they show up at.

    I would appreciate letters from any one who wants to pay up, or has a suggestion or comment. Just write to me at 1180 Alvarado SE, #114, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87108. Nothing would please me more than being able to hire ten programmers and deluge the hobby market with good software.

    Bill Gates

    General Partner, Micro-Soft

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 27, 2009 @10:39AM (#28837035)

      Dear Sir,

      Good day and compliments. This letter will definitely come to you as a huge surprise, but I implore you to take the time to go through it carefully as the decision you make will go off a long way to determine the future and continued existence of the entire members of my family.

      Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is William Gates, the 2nd husband of the widow of the late head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces of the federal republic of Nigeria who died on the 8th of June 1975.

      My ordeal started immediately after her husband's death on the morning of 8th June 1975, and the subsequent take over of government by the last administration. The present democratic government is determined to portray all the good work of her late husband in a bad light and have gone as far as confiscating all her late husband's assets, properties, freezing our accounts both within and outside Nigeria. As I am writing this letter to you, my son Mohammed Abacha is undergoing questioning with the government. All these measures taken by past/present government is just to gain international recognition.

      I and the entire members of my family have been held incommunicado since the death of her husband, hence I seek your indulgence to assist us in securing these funds. We are not allowed to see or discuss with anybody. Few occasions I have tired traveling abroad through alternative means all failed.

      It is in view of this I have mandated DR GALADIMA HASSAN, who has been assisting the family to run around on so many issues to act on behalf of the family concerning the substance of this letter. He has the full power of attorney to execute this transaction with you.

      Her late husband had/has Eighty Million USD ($80,000,000.00) specially preserved and well packed in trunk boxes of which only my husband and I knew about. It is packed in such a way to forestall just anybody having access to it. It is this sum that I seek your assistance to get out of Nigeria as soon as possible before the present civilian government finds out about it and confiscate it just like they have done to all our assets.

      I implore you to please give consideration to my predicament and help a widow and her new husband in need.

      May Allah show you mercy as you do so?

      Your faithfully,

      William H. Gates III

      N/B: Please contact Dr Galadima Hassan on this e-mail address for further briefing and modalities

    • Why is this? As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software. Hardware must be paid for, but software is something to share. Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid?

      Why do I get the sense that even in 1976, Bill Gates was a small, petty person with a sense of entitlement? It's no wonder that Microsoft turned out the way it did.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Paul Fernhout (109597)

      From:
      "How to Become As Rich As Bill Gates"
      http://philip.greenspun.com/bg/ [greenspun.com]
      """
      William Henry Gates III made his best decision on October 28, 1955, the night he was born. He chose J.W. Maxwell as his great-grandfather. Maxwell founded Seattle's National City Bank in 1906. His son, James Willard Maxwell was also a banker and established a million-dollar trust fund for William (Bill) Henry Gates III. In some of the later lessons, you will be encouraged to take entrepreneurial risks.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You know, if you take all of your sour grapes and start a winery, you'd be very successful.

        Just saying.

      • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Monday July 27, 2009 @11:11AM (#28837517) Homepage

        More on what dumpster diving meant to Bill Gates:
            http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=437640&cid=22255952 [slashdot.org]
        """
        Interviewer: Is studying computer science the best way to prepare to be a programmer?
        Bill Gates: No. the best way to prepare is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and I fished out listings of their operating system. You got to be willing to read other people's code, then write your own, then have other people review your code. You've got to want to be in this incredible feedback loop where you get the world-class people to tell you what you're doing wrong.
        """

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by toby (759) *

          You got to be willing to read other people's code, then write your own, then have other people review your code. You've got to want to be in this incredible feedback loop where you get the world-class people to tell you what you're doing wrong.

          Quite a clear endorsement of the open source model. And if the source he dived for had had an explicit open source license, he not only would have had every right to take them, but he could have insisted on having it :-)

      • by tjstork (137384) <todd,bandrowsky&gmail,com> on Monday July 27, 2009 @11:27AM (#28837801) Homepage Journal

        Of course eventually, these guy realize that not only are they not millionaires, they're not making much progress toward that noble goal. That's when they get ugly. You see, they see themselves as capable, intelligent, hard working people - and they are for the most part - who "have what it takes" to "make

        Is that most people who are not millionaires but are working to become one would freely admit that they if they don't get there, its because they weren't good enough. You can work hard, study hard, etc, but, if you aren't good enough, you don't get to make the team millionaire. But along the way you do grow from what you do. You've tried to build a business, have made products, have made some sales, have learned about your gut and how the world really works. Those things you can only get from stepping into the ring, as Teddy Roosevelt so famously observed, and that, there's a certain thing you get just from getting in there and putting up your dukes.

        What is important to us is having the opportunity to try and chase one's goals, and, if you listen to what we say, you would hear that over and over again - the Constitution doesn't guarantee success, but the right to pursue it. Nothing in life is guaranteed. The American dream is not getting rich per se, its about having the opportunity to try. When you guys on the left ramble on about guarantees, you've missed the point of life altogether. You want to have all of these guarantees for yourselves and in doing so really undermine your own ability to say, at the end, that you lived your life yourself. You want to trade away the opportunity for order, just because, you don't think you can succeed. That's just utterly pathetic.

        So yeah, Bill Gates got rich. I didn't. Maybe I never will. I don't care and Bill Gate's wealth doesn't bother me. He got the opportunity to live his dream and I got the opportunity to live mine, and however I use my opportunity, my life, is my business, and has nothing to do with him, and has nothing to do with you.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Backward Z (52442)

          Is that most people who are not millionaires but are working to become one would freely admit that they if they don't get there, its because they weren't good enough. You can work hard, study hard, etc, but, if you aren't good enough, you don't get to make the team millionaire.

          They would freely admit that, but they'd be wrong. Just because people drank the kool-aid and then agree with the guy at the front of the room behind the podium doesn't mean they're all right.

          The America you describe might have existed in the previous centuries, but at this point in time, the system is showing extravagant fault.

          All those guys who already became millionaires? They spend all their time making sure they stay millionaires. In order for them to stay millionaires, it means they have to keep ot

      • Bill Gate's could have spent his lifetime writing free software. That being born a multi-millionaire was not enough for him is a sign of an illness that causes "financial obesity", not something to be emulated. But, in the end, it is not Bill Gates who has destroyed our society as much as all the people who want to be the next Bill Gates and support regressive social policies they hope to benefit from someday.

        It's a poor, twisted soul that even thinks to call wealth 'financial obesity', or refer to it as an

        • by Backward Z (52442)

          How this comment gets 5: Insightful is beyond me. All like the parent replied, it's all ad hominems and strawmen. There's not a single hard argument here that holds water.

          http://www.jmooneyham.com/the-huge-mountain-of-cash-separating-the-rich-from-everyone-else.html [jmooneyham.com] (and seriously, I'm seeing new infographics like this every few days, this is just the most recent)

          Wealth is a zero sum game, a game where the wealthy get the sum and everybody else gets as close to zero as possible without revolting against

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by dfenstrate (202098)

            Let's say we're both in line at Fortune 500 company for a VP promotion. We can't both have our candles lit, can we?

            Implicit in your question is the assumption that the VP promotion is the only way for that individual to generate wealth beyond what he already posesses. It also implies a fixation on working for someone else to generate wealth, but someone has to start all these companies that grow into fortune 500 companies and employ thousands of people and a few VP's.

            "Poisoned soul" doesn't mean anything. Y

    • by pilgrim23 (716938)
      The last bit of code Bill wrote himself was the porting of MS Basic to work on the Tandy Model 100. He also made 2 glaring errors.
    • The response of the Hobbyist community was to write and release a version of Basic for the same machine that only used 2K of memory (not the 4K that Micro-Soft Basic used) and they gave it away free ..... ..does that sound familiar ....

  • by InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) on Monday July 27, 2009 @10:27AM (#28836877)
    I got my first real PC
    Bought it at the CompUSA
    Coded 'til my fingers bled
    It was summer of '79

    Me and some guys from school
    Had a company and we tried real hard
    Jimmy quit and Jody got married
    I shoulda known we'd never get far

    Oh when I look back now
    That summer seemed to last forever
    And if I had the choice
    Ya - I'd always wanna be there
    Those were the best days of my life ...
  • Can't say i did much in basic, but the one language i cut my teeth on was turing. I still remember the final project myself and a friend teamed up on wouldn't run on any of the school computers (at the time, we incorporated SVGA mouse driven 3D-menu systems and 16-bit sound). I had to lug my old, steel cased, full sized tower system that weighed a ton or more, into the school to demonstrate the program to our teacher in order to get the credit for it.

    Would of made my buddy bring in his system, but i lived c

  • "Ah, 1979. I remember it well. Just five short years before I lost my virginity."
  • . . . actually started a decade earlier with IBM. The MTST and MCST word processors first brought microprocessors to the desktop.
    • No - systems like that were before microprocessors. They were based on multiple logic chips.

      The first microprocessor - CPU on a chip - was the Intel 4004 introduced in 1971, designed to power desktop calculators.

      One of the earliest computers was the SCELBI Mark 8, powered by the Intel 8008, introduced in 1974. However, he MITS Altair 8800 (based on the Intel 8080), launched in 1975 can really be regarded as the beginning of the personal computer industry... It rocketed to fame by being featured on the cover

  • by McNihil (612243)

    It was more like 1977...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodore_PET [wikipedia.org]

    Just a friendly reminder Billy, don't diss the real start.

    • Since the Commodore PET, the Trash-80 Level 2 and various other circa-77 computers ran Microsoft BASIC [wikipedia.org] I rather think BillG knows about them.

      The point of TFA is not that 1979 marked the birth of the personal computer, but was the point at which things really started to mushroom. Sounds about right to me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by McNihil (612243)

        Well... I would say that it really mushroomed when the Sinclair ZX 80 was made and later on ZX 81 (Timex here in North America.) 99% of my computer literate friends started on these (yes this be Europe.) Note also that these were not running MS Basic.

        I was not dissing Billy not knowing about PET... he definitely knows (how could he not?) I was just referring to the blatant and consistent laps of showing "credit where credit is due." If it wasn't for inexpensive computers like Commodore and Sinclair we might

  • Early BASIC with DRM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gr8_phk (621180) on Monday July 27, 2009 @10:53AM (#28837217)
    I still have my 8080-based Interact computer from back then AND a (legal) copy of MS BASIC for it on tape. One thing I distinctly recall is that the Peek and Poke commands did not work out of the box. For Poke, you had to first enter "poke xxxxx,yy" or poke would result in an error. The poke command itself would execute, and then check this address for yy and return an error for any other value. A sort of lock. Not sure if Interact or MS decided to put this in. There was another series of things to do to unlock the peek command. IIRC there was a separate lock on the 2K rom address range. Do I still get in legal trouble if I post the values of XXXX,YY?? They are still burned into my brain. Does anyone at Microsoft still have this basic or know how to unlock these commands? I wonder...
  • by peter303 (12292) on Monday July 27, 2009 @11:37AM (#28838005)
    I attended the the 2nd West Coast Computer Fair in 1978 in San Jose. I remember Bill as a skinny red hair kid promoting BASIC in the MSFT booth.

    These computer fairs were exciting. Before them, computers were mainly sold by corporations to other corporations. They were locked up then in central IT facilities. (Well, some things never change :-)
  • I was a ovum waiting for my dad's sperm to come.
  • Gates remembers that in 1979 there were only 100 different software products that had more than $100 M in annual sales and all of them were for mainframes. 'In April, the 8080 version of BASIC became the first software product built to run on microprocessors to win an ICP Million Dollar Award. Today, I would be surprised if the number of million-dollar applications isn't in the millions itself' writes Gates.

    1,000,000 software applications x $1,000,000 = $1,000,000,000,000 (one quadrillion dollars)

    Seems a bi

  • Ah, the late 70's (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mesa MIke (1193721) on Monday July 27, 2009 @11:57AM (#28838433) Homepage

    The Imsai 8080 that my dad built from a kit. The TV Typewriter terminal. The Pickles & Trout video interface. Loading an ill-gotten copy of 4k BASIC by pulling punched tape through a reader, later loading Extended BASIC via a Kansas City standard cassette tape interface. Building wire harnesses in the garage for Synetic Designs' FDS-1 dual 8-inch floppy disk drive system (and getting paid $20 per!). Hunt the Wumpus, Hammurabi, even Star Trek!

    Those were the days.
    Now get offa my lawn, you damn kids!

  • Thats too bad, because ive got love for you..... if you were born in the eighties.

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