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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