William Henry Gates III (born 1955)
"WHG3" / #WHG3
Also known as "Bill Gates"
Father of -
Related pages :
High school years at Lakeside : Freshman(1969-1970) / Sophomore (1970-71) / Jr(1971-72) / Sr(1972-73)
Bill Gates' on his parents / family
GeekWire: Your dad [...] helped take public Physio-Control [in 1971]. He seemed to evolve into being involved with the Washington Research Foundation, Tech Alliance. How would you characterize his role in promoting and fostering the development of the tech industry in the Northwest — aside from yourself?
Bill Gates: He got into a lot of those things primarily through his connection with the University of Washington, and wanting the university to be strong and help drive the success of the community. He realized the university played an absolutely central role in whether the jobs coming in related to the new sciences, including biology and IT-type stuff. It was really through the UW that he got involved in the Tech Alliance. They went down and toured Silicon Valley, went to Boston, went to North Carolina, tried to figure out what state policies, including the role of the university, was in doing those things. Can you attribute it to the Tech Alliance or Microsoft being here or a variety of factors? Seattle is certainly doing well at tech jobs at the moment. Some people think too well.
GeekWire: How important do you think his role was in all of it? He seems like someone who really connects dots, connects people, has this longer vision and orchestrates moving people together to facilitate.
Bill Gates: Yes, in a broad sense, yes. But my dad’s not a technology person. … He was about, “How was this a great community to live in? How is it educating students really well?” He was involved in the Municipal League. He put more time into bar stuff [for the Seattle-King County Bar Association and the Washington State Bar Association]. He did so many different volunteer things, it’s hard to categorize. The bar was certainly the biggest single thing he did. He had a lot of stuff about judicial reform and malpractice insurance for lawyers.
He came from Bremerton. Unlike my mother’s parents, who were quite well off — that grandfather was a banker who had done quite well — that grandfather had only gone to sixth grade, and owned a small furniture store. He sold it before [World War II], so that when it actually did well he was just working there. His parents, although his mom was very sharp, weren’t all that highly educated. In Bremerton, he met Dorm Braman [Gates Sr.’s Boy Scout Troop leader] and a bunch of people who activated his ambition and capability.
He came to the UW, went to war and came back to law school. There is a whole group of friends, of which [former three-time governor and U.S. Senator for Washington] Dan Evans was part… Various people who out of this small group of friends would go on to all do pretty high-visibility and high-impact stuff. Those were the friends who were coming to our house when I was young, a great group of people.
My dad expanded his horizons way beyond what he grew up with. That grandfather liked to watch the boxing matches. That was the main TV show he was interested in. And all my grandparents were strict Christian Scientists [a religious movement founded by Mary Baker Eddy in the 19th Century that believes in the power of prayer over medicine for healing the sick]. [...] Both my parents choose not to follow the strict, like no doctors, approach to things. In fact, my mom’s father died of cancer in incredible pain and never saw a doctor. Ever. It’s unusual that they were both Christian Scientists, they were from very different parts, very different backgrounds.
GeekWire: Does your dad have any traits that you would like to develop more in yourself?
Bill Gates: Yeah, I say in his book [“Showing Up for Life: Thoughts on the Gifts of a Lifetime”] “My dad is a little more cautious, wise.” Not as over-the-top quite so quickly. There’s a lot about my dad that I and others would love to have come more naturally. My dad is very good about how he makes things about the success of the activity, and not putting himself at the center of it… He chose not to run for political office. There was a time he considered being a federal judge. Actually, when that opportunity came along, his law firm was in a situation where he decided he wouldn’t do it. He really couldn’t leave the law firm at that point. I always thought he would be such a great judge. He shows no signs of regret because he passed that opportunity…. His law firm career went extremely well. But I think of him like a judge.
GeekWire: Talking to people for the profile of your dad, the accolades are just boundless. Is there any weakness that he has? Or anything he did where he might have said, “I wished I would have done that differently or better, or I could have been more effective somehow?”
Bill Gates: Well, my dad worked very hard when I was young. There was a pretty strong imbalance between the level of engagement that we had with my mother, who was also very successful and active. Libby, my younger sister, is nine years younger than I am. That is when women were being put on boards. So mom ended up on the board of the insurance company, the phone company, the university, and the bank. All these boards.
When I was young, my mom was busy, but not super busy. So my dad has shown some regret that he was so engaged in his work, that he let her do a lot of the communication. In fact, if dad was unhappy about something that was really unusual. Therefore, it was unquestionably something you better pay attention to…. [At the dinner table, my parents] were very good about talking about the work they were doing, which you can say that was centered on them. [...]
My two grandmothers, not to insult my grandfathers, were significantly more talented than my grandfathers… My two grandmothers were both very smart. His mother hadn’t much education; I think she went to eighth grade or something. His father only went to sixth grade. She was smart. She was the one who would read the Christian Science lesson daily. Every morning, you would read this Mary Baker Eddy lesson. I don’t know if my grandfather could have read it. She would always be the one who sat there and made a coffee and read the lesson. That was the first thing they did when I would go over and stay at their house in downtown Bremerton. He had his mother who was very sharp. He had a sister who didn’t get to go to college, which he felt kind of bad about because she actually helped support him.
Then my mom was very capable. It is hard to compare my mom and dad, because they were both ambitious and both very smart. My mom was even more sociable, even more of a people-person than my dad. She was a very energetic person. So he had that experience… Certainly, the expectations were for my sisters to go to college or to be good at anything. My older sister worked as much as I did. Libby chose a little less, but she had a great college education. Did a lot of serious work for a period of time. Dad is pretty even-handed about those things….
In 2010, Gates Sr. helped lead the campaign for Initiative 1098, a ballot measure to create a state income tax for Washington, which is recognized as having one of the least fair tax systems in the country because it puts a heavier burden on low-income residents than the affluent. I-1098 would have brought more balance to the system. Despite the efforts of Gates and others — including a TV ad in which Gates Sr. gets dumped in a dunk tank — the measure failed. Among the opposition were some of Gates Sr.’s friends, including Steve Ballmer, who replaced Gates Jr. as CEO of Microsoft, venture capitalist Tom Alberg and former governor Dan Evans.
Bill Gates: My dad has a well-developed sense of justice. He decided there should be an income tax. Based on the voters, not that many people agreed with him. But he had a firm conviction about that and he thought a lot of people would come along and support him. Even as that coalition ended up being quite small compared to what he hoped for, he stuck with it. Next thing you know, my dad is in these ads where he is being dunked in the tank. What was my dad at the time, 78 or something like that? I was like, “Come on, dad.”
It was like when he took the UW [Creating Futures] Campaign. First, he was reluctant, then he decided to do it. I said to him, “How come you don’t have a co-chair?” I don’t think anyone’s been a single head of a campaign before or since my dad did it that way. It’s not to say he didn’t get lots of help. He has a network of people who help him with things. But he chose to at least have that top spot by himself, which ended up being a massive amount of work. And thank goodness, unlike the income-tax thing, that one was, in the end, quite successful. [The eight-year effort led by Gates Sr. raised nearly $2.7 billion.]
GeekWire: Do you ask your dad for advice with business?
Bill Gates: Sure. He has been helpful many times. Not about the specifics of Microsoft, because we have a lot of technology things. We had a legal dispute early in Microsoft [in which the government alleged the company was engaged in noncompetitive practices] where I felt sure we were right and we ought to stay the course. He helped reinforced that. That was good. My dad is wise, and so I have run things by him. Not software strategy, but decisions.
My parents created a really strong social environment. When new people would come in to work for Microsoft, my mom and dad would often have them over. I figured if they were well older than me, they did a better job at connecting them into the community and who they might want to get to know or what groups they might want to be a part of. I was mono-maniacally focused on Microsoft and quite a bit younger than some of these experienced people we were bringing in.
Even when I wanted to hire Steve Ballmer, to drop out of business school, he was a year in, my parents had him over and were helpful. They knew when I was trying to hire somebody and thought about how they could help. When somebody new was starting, that they could help embrace them.
GeekWire: So was it hard when Steve came out against the income tax, after your dad brings him into the fold?
Bill Gates: It is now just a friendly joke. When Dan Evans came out against it, I was like, “Oh, dad” because Dan is a super liberal Republican. He didn’t like that particular form of the income tax. It is an interesting thing [how to implement an income tax]. Do you start [taxing] at the high end, and that’s a Trojan Horse for doing it broadly, or do you just do it for the high-end [income earners]? Anyway, lots of people have different opinions.
People who pay high incomes in this state, their employees pay less in taxes than in other states. When you are trying to hire somebody who is thinking about going to California or Washington, it is a benefit to this state. When a company has to balance the benefit they get from that versus what it means for the state not having enough revenue to do its job, it’s a tough decision. Steve came down one way on that. I am super close friends with Steve. That was fine, that was his judgment, that is what he chose to do. If [the measure had lost] 51 percent to 49 percent, I could say, “That was it, Steve.” [Given that I-1098 failed 64 to 36 percent] it’s not like that was some definitive moment in my dad’s quest for the truly-just income tax.
Gates was born in Seattle, Washington, on October 28, 1955. [...] His ancestry includes English, German, and Irish/Scots-Irish. His father was a prominent lawyer, and his mother served on the board of directors for First Interstate BancSystem and the United Way of America. Gates's maternal grandfather was J. W. Maxwell, a national bank president. Gates has an older sister Kristi (Kristianne) and a younger sister Libby. He is the fourth of his name in his family but is known as William Gates III or "Trey" (i.e., three) because his father had the "II" suffix. The family lived in the Sand Point area of Seattle in a home that was damaged by a rare tornado when Gates was seven years old.
Early in his life, Gates observed that his parents wanted him to pursue a law career. When he was young, his family regularly attended a church of the Congregational Christian Churches, a Protestant Reformed denomination. Gates was small for his age and was bullied as a child. [...]
1962 -Seattle World's Fair
Note that a key organizer was the finance chairman on the Seattle chamber of commerce - James d'Orma Braman (born 1901) :
James d'Orma Braman (born 1901) went on to become the mayor of Seattle, and serve in President Nixon's white house cabinet
James Braman was also the boy scout master of William Henry Gates II (born 1925) , Bill Gate' father
James Braman was a Navy admiral in WW2, and neighbor of William Henry Gates (born 1891) , Bill Gate's paternal grandfather
GeekWire: Your dad was involved with early tech businesses like Physio-Control, Intermec and SeaMED. What interested him? Where did he find his fascination with innovation and technology?
Bill Gates: Well, his law firm got involved in those. Actually, as a sixth grader he had me go down and meet with Dr. Edmark and Hunter Simpson. I wrote a long report about Physio-Control. Intermec, they did a tape reader. The original Traf-O-Data tape reader I got some guys at Intermec to build. My dad had a mix… He had quite a variety of clients including those. I wouldn’t say it was all heavy science or engineering.
1967 [est] - As sixth grader, Bill Gates getting jobs from father to write reports for tech companies that his father is a board member of [ in this case, Physio-Control ] @
Actually, Bill Gates Sr. was on the board of Physio-Control since 1957
[Bill Gates Sr.’] early legal clients included Redmond’s Physio-Control Co., a pioneer in heart defibrillators led by Dr. Karl William Edmark, and Intermec Corp., an Everett-based business and creator of the most widely used barcode symbols and the hand-held barcode scanner. Gates was on the board of directors for both companies.
Gates helped take Physio-Control public in 1971 — the same year that drivers on SeaTac’s stretch of Highway 99 were confronted by an infamous billboard asking “Will the last person leaving SEATTLE — Turn out the lights” erected in response to a spate of layoffs at Boeing, then the region’s largest employer. It was also four years before Gates Jr. and Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft, a company that would eventually reshape the Seattle region and the larger tech ecosystem.
The success of Physio-Control was “the beginning of that positive feedback of people starting a technology company and doing well and going on to found new companies, and to serve as an angel investor to others,” said Malarkey, of the Technology Alliance.
The angel investing of Gates Sr. and his peers, she said, had “a spirit of community building.”
And his dad’s engagement in tech ventures helped fan his son’s curiosity about the field.
“As a sixth grader [meaning.. Bill Gates is about age 11, and this is about 1967...], he had me go down and meet with Dr. Edmark and [Physio’s president and CEO] Hunter Simpson, and I wrote a long report about Physio-Control,” Gates Jr. said. Gates later worked with some employees at Intermec to develop the tape reader that he and Allen used at Traf-O-Data, their pre-Microsoft venture created to analyze traffic-counting data.
1960s (date) - Bill Gates as a Student got inspired by philanthropic work of John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie.
Note : Daniel Jackson Evans (born 1925) was friend of the family, and competing against John D Rockefeller for the US VP nomination
[...] : Also while being a student, Gates got inspired of the philanthropic work of John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. In 2000, Gates together with his wife Melinda founded Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support low-income countries.
Could you tell us about the role of the Lakeside School Mother's Club in introducing you to computers?
Bill Gates: The Lakeside's Mother's Club had a rummage sale every year to raise money for the school. And instead of just funding the budget, they always would fund something kind of new and interesting in addition. And without too much understanding, they decided having a computer terminal at the school would be a novel thing. It was a teletype -- upper case only, ten characters a second -- and you had to share a phone line to call into a big time-sharing computer that was very expensive. When you were connected up it would charge, and then when you actually had a program running it would charge a lot more. So they set up this teletype, and some of the math and science teachers played around with it. One of them accidentally spent a lot of money with an infinite loop program. They spent like $200 by surprise. So they were a bit intimidated, and a bunch of us kind of hung out there and tried out different things. The programming language was BASIC, which was quite novel at the time. It had been invented by some Dartmouth professors. So that was the first computer language I learned, and I wrote increasingly complex programs. So that eighth grade exposure was a pretty neat thing, even though the machine we were working on was quite limited.
Even most colleges didn't have one of those at that time.
Bill Gates: No, the idea of students playing around with a computer was very unusual at the time. In fact, that computer -- eventually the costs were high enough they took it away. But then some other computer companies had come around, including one in Seattle, that a bunch of us went down and volunteered to help out and do some work for. So from that point on we always managed -- although it was dicey at times -- to find access to computers. That was very unusual in high school. But it took a lot of initiative on our part to get those experiences, but we wouldn't have done it if we hadn't had that early eighth grade exposure.
To someone who's never done any programming, can you describe what made it so exciting to you at the beginning?
Bill Gates: Well, programming is where you're describing to the machine how to do something-- telling it how to play tic-tac-toe, telling it how to play the board game Monopoly, telling it how to convert numbers from one base to another. There are these simple instructions, but if you put them together you can synthesize something quite complex. It's a fascinating kind of mathematical thing. How can you make it fast? How can you make it small?
I went through several phases of doing more complex programs where people who were great programmers would look at my work, give me feedback on it, and you get so you can be quite a good programmer. It was kind such an intense activity, between the age of 13 and 17, that we learned a lot. Eventually one of the programs we took on was the idea of the scheduling of our school. When should the classes meet? Who should be in what section? You have all these requests for people who want different classes, and keeping them small, and not having the teachers teach too many classes in a row -- very complex kind of software problem. And actually, when the school first asked me to do it when I was 15, I said that I didn't know how and they asked some adults to do it, and that didn't work. Then, about a year later, I'd figured out how to do it, and so my friends and I actually did the software that did all this high school scheduling. It had some fantastic benefits to us, and we got paid for doing it. It was exactly the kind of complex problem that developed my skills very well. And we got some degree of control over who was in our classes, so it combined the best of everything!
We've read that at one point your fellow members of the computer club at Lakeside kicked you out. Is that true?
Bill Gates: Yeah. Initially, when that teletype showed up, there were probably 20 kids who showed an interest. It was confusing enough that it got whittled down to about eight or nine fairly quickly who were quite serious about it. Then there were about four of us who were hyper-serious, doing it day and night. Two of them were two years older than I was, and one was my same age. Now in a high school, people that are two years ahead of you, they don't socialize with the young kids all that much. So the idea that we had this group, the four of us, was kind of unusual. We called it the Lakeside Programming Group. One of the companies we had been doing work for went bankrupt, the one in Seattle, and so we went to one in Portland, Oregon.
Was that C Cubed?
Bill Gates: Yes, Computer Center Corporation -- C Cubed -- which had been in the University District in Seattle. We'd spent a lot of time there, and they were wonderful to us, but they weren't a well run business, so they went bankrupt. This company down in Portland, Oregon said, "Hey, we're not just going to give you computer time, you have to do something." So we agreed to write this payroll program. And a payroll program is surprisingly complicated. There's all these taxes and reports and things at the state level and federal level. Anyway, they said, "Well, if you could write one of those, we'd at least give you free computer time." So I negotiated that deal, and the two older members -- Paul Allen and Rick -- said, "There's not enough work to go around, so we're going to take charge of this." And I said, "Okay, I'm not that interested," because I had in mind how I wanted to do the payroll program. So they messed around for about three months, didn't get much done, and then said, "Will you join back up?" And I said, "Okay, but if so, I'm in charge of this," and it's going to kind of set a precedent for future activities. But they said, "No, no. That's fine." And so we worked. We actually finished this payroll program. It was a lot of work. The friend who was my age, Kent Evans, and I ended up doing the lion's share of the work. Now tragically, right as he and I finished that he was killed in a mountain climbing accident. So then there were just three of us left who'd been extremely involved, including Paul Allen, who was the one who was reading the magazines even more than I was. He was the one who actually saw this computer on a chip -- a so-called "microprocessor" -- in a very small obscure article. He saw that it would be deeply important and brought that to me in 1971. So we were still 15 -- I was 15, and he was 17 at the time.
Was it during your work with C Cubed that you got into some trouble for hacking into a system?
Bill Gates: These C Cubed people have this computer, which is a time-sharing computer, and they're letting us come in at night. And they had this deal with the company who made the computer, Digital Equipment Corporation, that they had this acceptance period. If they could find problems with it, they could delay their rental payments. So they thought of us as kind of monkeys that might find some problems and help them delay their rental payments. Well, that was a fair analysis, because at first we were just completely goofing around. Like, we'd try to run hundreds of jobs at the same time, or have all the jobs try and grab the same resources, to see if we could get the system to fail. And we did, in kind of this brute force approach. So they would report that as a problem and delay their rental payment. Well, a few months went by, actually about four months by the end of it. We had gotten very sophisticated. In fact, we'd gotten the source code of the operating system out of the garbage can, and were reading it, and the kind of problems we were finding were far more subtle. In fact, we would not only find the problem, we'd look and we'd suggest how they might fix it. Anyway, Digital Equipment got so tired of this they said, "Look, you've got to pay. You're going to be able to find these kinds of problems forever, but we need to get paid." So then there was a question whether they would let us stay there or not, and it was pretty tenuous. So Paul and I, we understood the system well enough that we could look at all the passwords of the various accounts, so we would use literally any account. And then, people -- when they found out we had done that, they got kind of mad about that. They weren't sure how mad they should be about it, because we hadn't really caused any damage, but it wasn't a good thing. Computer hacking was literally just being invented at the time, and so fortunately we got off with a bit of a warning. But there actually was a period that, because of that, they said we weren't supposed to use the computer. It was over a summer, and Paul actually went up to the University of Washington and found ways to use the computer and get connected up. He took a while before he told me and then eventually he told me about that and we got back on.
[...] What about school in general? You were a great reader. Otherwise, what kind of a student were you?
Bill Gates: Well, through eighth grade I was sort of enjoying the fact that I could do reasonably well without any effort. They had this thing where you'd get an "effort: which would be one, two or three, and then a grade. And so the ideal I always wanted was an A3, where you had the least effort, but the greatest grade. So my grades weren't all that great. And then in eighth grade I had been at a private school for a couple of years [suggests Gates started at Lakeside during his 6th grade] and decided that I better start getting good grades, both in terms of having some freedom, the way I'd be treated, and thinking about college. So from ninth grade on, I had a reasonably spotless grade record. I got quite serious about grades at that point.
Were you always good at math?
Bill Gates: Math was the thing that came most natural to me. And you know you'd take these exams, some of which were sort of nationwide exams, and I did quite well on those. That gave me some confidence, and I had some teachers who were very encouraging. They let me read textbooks, they encouraged me to take a college course on symbolic math, which is actually called algebra. So I felt pretty confident in my math skills, which is a nice thing, because not only the sciences, but economics, a lot of things if you're comfortable with math and statistics and ways of looking at cause and effect, that's extremely helpful.
Do any particular math teachers come to mind from that era?
Bill Gates: I had one named Paul Stockland at the school who challenged me. Later one named Fred Wright who challenged me. I actually majored in math for the time I was at college, because it's a very interesting topic. [...] 🌍
During the 1967/68 school year , the [Lakeside School] teaching staff recommended acquisition of computer facilities to expose the students to the technology . The school could not afford to purchase a computer . However the Lakeside Mothers Club agreed to finance the use of a time sharing service . In 1968 the school obtained an ASR-33 Teletype terminal and used a local access line to dial into a General Electric Mark II time sharing system .
NOTE - General Electric Mark II
I mean... so Lakeside basically had access to the start of the art GE-635 using the very same DTSS/BASIC developed by Dartmouth
And they got it almost immediately when it was available (request made in late 1967 ... access in 1968... )
Dartmouth Time Sharing System, version 2
Honeywell GE 635 Computer Hardware at Kiewit, early 1971
From 1966-1968, DTSS was reimplemented on the GE 635, still using the DATANET-30 for terminal control. The GE 635 system was delivered in November 1966. By October 1967, it was providing a service based on Phase I software, jointly developed by Dartmouth and GE, which GE subsequently marketed as the GE Mark II system. In parallel with this work, Dartmouth embarked in 1967 on the development of Phase II under the direction of Professor John Kemeny, with programming carried out by students and faculty. Phase II of the Dartmouth Time-Sharing System replaced Phase I on 1st April 1969 at Dartmouth.
As described in 1969, the new DTSS architecture was influenced by three criteria:
The experiences with the 265 system.
The published concepts of the Multics system.
A realization of the limitations of the capabilities of a part-time staff of Dartmouth students and faculty members.
[...] In 1968, [the Lakeside] school administration decided to buy a computer time from the General Electric Company. At that time, the system based on DEC PDP-10 micro-architecture was a basis on the market. Later, he said: “When I was thirteen, my school (Lakeside School) installed a teletype machine. From that point on, my friends and I spent most of our free time writing programs and figuring out how to make the computer to do interesting things.” The school administration had underestimated its students – the whole year of the computer time was used in a few weeks. Fortunately, a new student arrived in Lakeside, whose father worked as a senior programmer in Computer Center Corporation (CCC). The new contract allowed Gates and his friends to continue their experiments.
Young hackers quickly figured out the intricacies of the machine, found the weaknesses and started causing trouble – they broke the defense, which on several occasions led to a system failure and changed the files that contained records of computer time. CCC noticed that breach, and set them aside from working with computers for a few weeks.
Meanwhile, the company’s business began to suffer from constant failures and poor protection. Remembering the destructive activities of computer users from Lakeside, CCC invited Bill Gates and his friends to identify flaws and security holes. As a payment, the company offered endless computer time for young hackers. Sure thing, Bill and his friends could not refuse. Since that day boys couldn’t say if it was a day or night outside – they were hanging out in the lab all the time. For instance, one project of Gates was a program for scheduling classes. ‘Somehow’, it constantly redefined Bill to the classes with the prettiest girls. In addition to troubleshooting, they studied each material on automated calculations and improved their skills. [...]
In the words of narrator Paul Allen:
[...] My honors-geometry teacher [at my high school in Seattle ... Lakeside... ] was Bill Dougall, the head of Lakeside’s science and math departments. A navy pilot in World War II, Mr. Dougall had an advanced degree in aeronautical engineering, and another in French literature from the Sorbonne. In our school’s best tradition, he believed that book study wasn’t enough without real-world experience. He also realized that we’d need to know something about computers when we got to college. A few high schools were beginning to train students on traditional mainframes, but Mr. Dougall wanted something more engaging for us. In 1968 he approached the Lakeside Mothers Club, which agreed to use the proceeds from its annual rummage sale to lease a teleprinter terminal for computer time-sharing, a brand-new business at the time.
On my way to math class in McAllister Hall, I stopped by for a look. As I approached the small room, the faint clacking got louder. I opened the door and found three boys squeezed inside. There was a bookcase and a worktable with piles of manuals, scraps from notebooks, and rolled-up fragments of yellow paper tape. The students were clustered around an overgrown electric typewriter, mounted on an aluminum-footed pedestal base: a Teletype Model ASR-33 (for Automatic Send and Receive). It was linked to a GE-635, a General Electric mainframe computer in a distant, unknown office.
The Teletype made a terrific racket, a mix of low humming, the Gatling gun of the paper-tape punch, and the ka-chacko-whack of the printer keys. The room’s walls and ceiling were lined with white corkboard for soundproofing. But though it was noisy and slow, a dumb remote terminal with no display screen or lowercase letters, the ASR-33 was also state-of- the-art. I was transfixed. I sensed that you could do things with this machine.
That year, 1968, would be a watershed in matters digital. In March, Hewlett-Packard introduced the first programmable desktop calculator. In June, Robert Dennard won a patent for a one-transistor cell of dynamic random-access memory, or DRAM, a new and cheaper method of temporary data storage. In July, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore co-founded Intel Corporation. In December, at the legendary “mother of all demos” in San Francisco, the Stanford Research Institute’s Douglas Engelbart showed off his original versions of a mouse, a word processor, e-mail, and hypertext. Of all the epochal changes in store over the next two decades, a remarkable number were seeded over those 10 months: cheap and reliable memory, a graphical user interface, a “killer” application, and more.
It’s hard to convey the excitement I felt when I sat down at the Teletype. With my program written out on notebook paper, I’d type it in on the keyboard with the paper-tape punch turned on. Then I’d dial into the G.E. computer, wait for a beep, log on with the school’s password, and hit the Start button to feed the paper tape through the reader, which took several minutes.
At last came the big moment. I’d type “RUN,” and soon my results printed out at 10 characters per second—a glacial pace next to today’s laser printers, but exhilarating at the time. It would be quickly apparent whether my program worked; if not, I’d get an error message. In either case, I’d quickly log off to save money. Then I’d fix any mistakes by advancing the paper tape to the error and correcting it on the keyboard while simultaneously punching a new tape—a delicate maneuver nowadays handled by a simple click of a mouse and a keystroke. When I achieved a working program, I’d secure it with a rubber band and stow it on a shelf.
Soon I was spending every lunchtime and free period around the Teletype with my fellow aficionados. Others might have found us eccentric, but I didn’t care. I had discovered my calling. I was a programmer.
Notes - who is "William Stewart DOUGALL" ?
William Stewart Dougall, born on August 1, 1921, in Buffalo, New York, died peacefully on Saturday, November 21, 2009, surrounded by family. Bill was a pilot, aeronautical engineer, mountain climber and explorer, and math and physics teacher. After serving as a Navy pilot in World War II, he earned two undergraduate degrees from the University of Michigan in Math and Aeronautical Engineer ing, a Master of Education from Temple University and a Master of Science and Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Washington. He also received a degree in Contemporary French Literature from the Sorbonne in Paris, France. After working as an engineer at Boeing, Bill dis covered teaching, which became the joy of his life. He taught math and science at Lakeside School in Seattle from 1957 to 1995, and served as Socratic Mentor to Lakeside faculty from 1996 until the present, faithfully attending assembly every Wednesday. Dur ing his career he was a mentor to thousands of students who attend ed Lakeside School. He set up the school's first com puter terminal in 1969, which helped launch the careers of two of his students, Bill Gates and Paul Allen. He also established the school's Outdoor Education program. Bill took numerous sab baticals with his family to teach in Australia, Chile, Kenya and Scotland, and to build a windmill in Kathmandu, Nepal. Bill, along with his wife Lucy, was honored in 2006 by Lakeside School's es tablishment of The Bill and Lucy Dougall Fund for Inspirational Teaching. Bill was an avid traveler and out doorsman who led groups on ad ventures throughout the Pacific Northwest. He climbed moun tains on every continent including Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, Blanc, Ararat, and McKinley. He volun teered for many years with the Mountain Rescue Council of Seat tle, and served on the Board of REI. Bill was an inspirational leader, best known for his intellectual cu riosity, his adventurous spirit, for insisting that we all get out, get muddy, and in spite of the perils, real or perceived, venture to places we never imagined we could go. After surviving a heart attack while running the Bay to Breakers Race in San Francisco at age 73, Bill devoted his later years to family and his farm in Woodinville, while continuing to substitute teach at Lakeside. On his eighty-eight birthday, he danced on the table with his grandchildren. Three weeks be fore his death, Bill Dougall spent the day bailing water from a leaky boat and mowing the lawn. He will be deeply missed. Bill is survived by his wife of 62 years, Lucy, their children: Lucy, Rob, Jonathan, Jill, and Sorrel; seven grandchildren , Jessica, Nick, Brighton, Linnet, Rowan, Callie and Nate, one great-grandchild, William and another on the way.
Notes - The GE-600 series
The GE-600 series was a family of 36-bit mainframe computers originating in the 1960s, built by General Electric (GE). When GE left the mainframe business the line was sold to Honeywell, which built similar systems into the 1990s as the division moved to Groupe Bull and then NEC.
The system is perhaps best known as the platform on which the Dartmouth Time Sharing System (DTSS) spent most of its life, and the base machine for the Multics operating system as well. Multics was supported by virtual memory additions made to later versions of the series.
http://www.bitsavers.org/pdf/ge/GE-6xx/CPB-371A_GE-635_System_Man_Jul64.pdf / 1964-07-ge-635-system-manual-cpb-371a /
Birth of BASIC
Aug 5, 2014
Professors John Kemeny and Tom Kurtz along with a band of Dartmouth undergraduates invent the Basic computer language.
key names - Al Tucker, math Dept. - Princeton
When you were growing up, did you have any vision of what you wanted to accomplish?
Bill Gates: When I was very young I hadn't been exposed to computers so I was mostly just reading, doing math, learning about science, and I wasn't sure what my career would be. I knew I loved learning about things. I was an avid reader, but it was when I was 12 years old that I first got to use a computer, actually a very limited machine by today's standards. But that definitely fascinated me when I was first exposed.
Love at first sight?
Bill Gates: I was intrigued by figuring out what it could do and what it couldn't do. And some friends and I spent lots of time. The teachers got intimidated so we were on our own trying to figure it out. Actually, we gave a course on computers to the other students, and it became a fascination, where we got paid for doing computer work and talked about forming a company. But there was kind of a magical breakthrough when the computer became cheap, and we could see that everyone could afford a computer. That was much later, but that's what got us to really get together and create a company for software.
In the words of narrator Paul Allen:
[...] One day early that fall [of 1968], I saw a gangly, freckle-faced eighth-grader edging his way into the crowd around the Teletype, all arms and legs and nervous energy. He had a scruffy-preppy look: pullover sweater, tan slacks, enormous saddle shoes. His blond hair went all over the place. You could tell three things about Bill Gates pretty quickly. He was really smart. He was really competitive; he wanted to show you how smart he was. And he was really, really persistent. After that first time, he kept coming back. Many times he and I would be the only ones there.
Bill came from a family that was prominent even by Lakeside standards; his father later served as president of the state bar association. I remember the first time I went to Bill’s big house, a block or so above Lake Washington, feeling a little awed. His parents subscribed to Fortune, and Bill read it religiously. One day he showed me the magazine’s special annual issue and asked me, “What do you think it’s like to run a Fortune 500 company?” I said I had no idea. And Bill said, “Maybe we’ll have our own company someday.” He was 13 years old and already a budding entrepreneur.
Where I was curious to study everything in sight, Bill would focus on one task at a time with total discipline. You could see it when he programmed—he’d sit with a marker clenched in his mouth, tapping his feet and rocking, impervious to distraction. He had a unique way of typing, sort of a six-finger, sideways scrabble. There’s a famous photograph of Bill and me in the computer room not long after we first met. I’m seated on a hard-back chair at the teleprinter in my dapper green corduroy jacket and turtleneck. Bill is standing to my side in a plaid shirt, his head cocked attentively, eyes trained on the printer as I type. He looks even younger than he actually was. I look like an older brother, which was something Bill didn’t have.
[...] In 1969, at the Computer Center Corporation experienced difficulties once again, and in 1970, it declared itself a bankrupt. The Lakeside’s students lost their job and access to computer time. Paul Allen’s father was working at the University of Washington and had an access to the computer center. Young programmers got down to business looking for an area where to apply their knowledge. In 1971, the Information Sciences hired Bill Gates and Paul Allen to create software that would be make-up payroll sheet. In addition to unlimited computer time employers have agreed to pay the developers every time their software will bring the company profit.
Traf-o-Data - The young programmers regularly received orders. Bill Gates was the initiator who said: “Let’s call the real world, and sell it something.” And the most interesting thing that he did find clients and sold them his software. For example, once he developed software to optimize road traffic and sold it for $20,000 dollars. He was only 15 years old!
In the words of narrator Paul Allen:
One evening after school, early in my senior year at Lakeside, [which would be the fall of 1970, ] I brazenly walked through a door and into UW’s graduate computer science lab. I picked up a manual and took my seat at a Teletype linked to a Xerox Data Systems Sigma- 5, which I soon had figured out. Then a grad student approached to ask a question, and word got around that I seemed to know what I was doing. I was rolling along until an assistant professor called me into his office and said, “You don’t look familiar. Are you in any of my classes?”
And I said, “No, sir, I’m not.”
“As matter of fact, you’re not even enrolled here, are you?” I confessed that I wasn’t. The professor smiled and said, “All right,
I’ll tell you what. If you keep helping my students, you can stick around.”
There was no turning back after that. I moved on to the Burroughs B5500 and a powerful language called ALGOL— my first brush with batch processing, a step backward in time that only deepened my appreciation of the PDP-10. I tried my hand at a Control Data CDC- 6400 and an Imlac PDS- 1, the pioneering graphical minicomputer, where I found a version of Steve Russell’s Spacewar. I was a sponge, soaking up knowledge wherever I could. All of us were sponges then.
That November [of 1970], a Portland time- sharing company called Information Services Inc. invited me and my three “colleagues” to meet to discuss a contract, a big step for us. Before driving to Oregon, we reconstituted ourselves as the Lakeside Programming Group, which sounded grown- up and official. ISI wanted a payroll program that had to be written in COBOL, a high- level language used in business applications. In return, they would credit us with free time on their PDP- 10. We outlined our experience and submitted our résumés; Bill, just turned sixteen, had written his in pencil on lined notebook paper. We got the job.
1971 (June) - Paul Allen graduates from Lakeside @
1971 (May 28) - TRW awarded contract for Bonneville Dam / Power @
1971 (Sep) - Paul Allen starts as freshman at Washington State, studying Computer Science
1971 (est)- For a period of about a year, Bill Gates Does NOT work with computers
We dont know exactly when this period was ...
"Bill Gates’ parents were extremely frightened of the enthusiasm of their son and by a willful decision they banned him from computer projects. For a year, Bill did not approach the object of his passion, reading the biographies of famous people from Napoleon to Roosevelt. "
1972 (Jan) - School schedule programming project begins at Lakeside School (with Kent Evans)
Note that the 1971-1972 school year is the junior year for Bill Gates; he and Kent Evants wanted the project done for Bill Gate's senior year - 1972-1973
Note below that the math teacher who was initially put in charge of this project died in a small plane crash.
The following year[, which would be 1971], a Lakeside teacher enlisted Gates and Evans to automate the school's class-scheduling system, providing them computer time and royalties in return. The duo worked diligently in order to have the program ready for their senior year. Towards the end of their junior year, Evans was killed in a mountain climbing accident, which Gates has described as one of the saddest days of his life. Gates then turned to Allen who helped him finish the system for Lakeside.
Odds of both Paul Allen and Bill gates getting perfect SATs, same school same year - without serious studying - is virtually zero. Cheating was rampant at that time ...
https://blog.prepscholar.com/how-to-get-a-perfect-sat-score-by-a-2400-sat-scorer : "Only 500 of 2 million scores are perfect 1600""
1972 (May 28) - Death of Kent Evans @
1972 (?) - Bill Gates serves as a Congressional (House) page in Washington DC
1972 (June 2) - Traf-O-Data - Work begins with traffic flow / 8008 programming
Traf-O-Data = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traf-O-Data
1972 (Sep) - Bill Gates begins senior year at Lakeside
In the words of narrator Paul Allen:
"OVER CHRISTMAS, Bill [Gates] got a call from Bud Pembroke, the guy who’d hired us to do the ISI payroll program. A massive software project for the Bonneville Power Administration’s electrical grid was behind schedule, and Bud was scouring the region for programmers who knew their way around a PDP- 10. I was not quite twenty and Bill was only seventeen, but age was not a criterion. “And you’re going to be on salary,” Bud said.
Bill said, “How much?”
And Bud said, “One hundred sixty- five dollars a week.”
Four dollars an hour was a pittance for an experienced programmer, even then, but Bill and I couldn’t believe our good fortune. Here was a chance to work together again on a PDP- 10, and for pay! I was glad to take a leave of absence from Washington State. Bill had completed his required courses at Lakeside and got approval to pursue an off-campus senior project for his final semester. We told Bud to count us in.
Bill and I piled into his orange 1967 Mustang convertible and drove south to Vancouver, Washington, a land of strip malls, car washes, and a vintage A&W Root Beer drive- in stand where we’d become regulars. We found a cheap two- bedroom apartment and showed up for work on a Monday in January 1973.
1973 (Jan) - Bill Gates starts project with TRW / electric grid / Bonneville Power @
"By the age of seventeen Gates received a proposal for writing a software package for Bonneville Dam, which his parents didn’t reject. For a one-year work on this project Gates received $30,000 dollars."
Bill Gates: My parents had been fantastic throughout my whole student career. [...] That my senior year at Lakeside, where I had wanted to take time off and do this job at TRW, they'd been very supportive of that, letting me live down in Vancouver, Washington. I challenged them a little bit when some of my coworkers at TRW said I should skip undergraduate and just go to graduate school, and they were not enthused about that. It looked like I would have an opportunity to do that, but I didn't, I just went to Harvard.
1973 (September) - Bill Gates starts starts at Harvard @
In the fall of 1973 Allen returned to University [, that being Washington State,] and Gates entered Harvard University .
" enrolled at Harvard College in the autumn of 1973. He chose a pre-law major but took mathematics and graduate level computer science courses. While at Harvard, he met fellow student Steve Ballmer. [Ballmer] graduated magna cum laude. Years later, Ballmer succeeded Gates as Microsoft's CEO and maintained that position from 2000 until his resignation in 2014." ( Wikipedia - Saved Aug 10 2020 : [HK002A][GDrive] )
Gates devised an algorithm for pancake sorting as a solution to one of a series of unsolved problems [ see https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92236781 ] ) presented in a combinatorics class by professor Harry Lewis. His solution held the record as the fastest version for over 30 years, and its successor is faster by only 2%. His solution was formalized and published in collaboration with Harvard computer scientist Christos Papadimitriou.
[Bill Gates] lived in Currier House, an outpost full of math and science whizzes removed from the more centrally located dorms along the Charles River. In his sophomore year, dormmate Jeff Clark introduced him to Ballmer, who was also living in Currier House. "Jeff liked Steve because Steve had this very energetic approach to being involved in everything," Gates says. "And he kind of liked me because I had this very energetic approach to not being involved in things."
Ballmer compensated for his shyness by becoming hyperactive on campus. He would become manager of the Harvard football team, business manager of the Harvard Crimson and publisher of a campus literary magazine. He made a point of memorizing faces and names from the Harvard directory.
He and Gates became friends, attending a double feature of "Singin' in the Rain" and "A Clockwork Orange" that November. The next month, Gates left the door to his dorm room wide open after he returned to Seattle for the holidays; because dormmates hung out in Gates's room, he never locked the door. Ballmer, seeing his friend's wallet sitting in full view on his dresser, locked up after him.
Both got perfect scores on their math SATs and shared an interest in Napoleon. They were both slobs, dormmates recall. Gates eschewed sheets, opting to sleep directly on his mattress because it was too much trouble to make his bed. Gary Kollin, who briefly shared an apartment with Ballmer one summer, says Ballmer did the same -- his sheets were the wrong size for his mattress, and he thought it would be a waste of money to buy new ones for the summer.
Ballmer helped nudge Gates into doing social things, persuading him to join Harvard's all-male Fox Club. But each had his own interests and circles: Ballmer had his extracurriculars; Gates spent hours playing poker with dormmates. The poker games went all night, and often badly for Gates.
"We used to rub our hands together when he'd sit down," poker player Scott Drill says. "We'd say, 'Here comes the Bill Gates Gravy Train.' " Gates had an obsessive willingness to keep playing, even after his losses reached into the hundreds. One night, he walked into Ballmer's room and handed him his checkbook. "Hide this," he said to Ballmer, one poker player recalls. "I don't want to lose anymore."
Neither required much sleep, and friends recall them engaging in animated debates late into the night. Ballmer even adopted Gates's rocking habit, seemingly unconsciously. Together they studied until dawn several days in a row for an economics final. "We're screwed in this class . . . no, we're golden," Ballmer would yell late at night, according to other students. Gates scored a 99 on the test, Ballmer a 97.
1974 (Summer? ) - Paul Allen leaves Washington State, moves to Massachusetts to work at Honeywell, and spend time with Bill Gates on the weekends - Bill Gates claims he helped Paul Allen get that job
He got a job offer just from a resume? What about going in for an interview?
Through the spring semester of 1974, Bill kept urging me to move to Boston. We could find work together as programmers, he said; some local firms sounded interested. We’d come up with some exciting project. In any case, we’d have fun. Why not give it a try?
Drifting at Washington State, I was ready to take a flier. I mailed my résumé to a dozen computer companies in the Boston area and got a $12,500 job offer from Honeywell. If Boston didn’t work out, I could always return to school. In the meantime, I’d sample a new part of the country, and my girlfriend, Rita, had agreed to join me. We had grown more serious and wanted to live together as a trial run for marriage. Plus, Bill would be there. At a minimum, we could put our heads together on the weekends.
Bill Gates : "In the meantime[, upon graduating High school and then starting at college,] I start at Harvard University back in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Paul's at Washington State, another place, so I help him get a job out there in the Boston area, and we're just brainstorming, you know, "What's going to happen with the microprocessor?""
[...] A glimpse of his resume from 1974, when he was 18, reveals that during his first year at Harvard, Gates was already making $15,000.
In today’s dollars, that’s almost $75,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator. Impressive for a college freshman.
Though it’s not clear from where that income came, the resume says that he and future Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (today worth more than $20 billion) were working “in partnership” and had designed a program for an early Intel computer.
The CV also shows Gates worked as a programmer at TRW Systems Group in Vancouver, a developer of military and civil space systems (which was acquired by Northrop Grumman in 2002).
Both Gates and Allen structured their early resumes similarly. First, they listed computer-related coursework — where Gates points out he received all As in the courses mentioned, like Operating Systems Structure, Data Base Management and Computer Graphics. Next came the computer programming languages in which they were proficient. Finally, came work experience. [...]
Art Salsberg, editorial director of Popular Electronics, was looking for a computer construction project, and his technical editor Les Solomon knew that MITS was working on an Intel 8080-based computer kit. Roberts assured Solomon that the project would be complete by November to meet the press deadline for the January 1975 issue. The first prototype was finished in October and shipped to Popular Electronics in New York for the cover photograph, but it was lost in transit. Solomon already had a number of pictures of the machine, and the article was based on them. Roberts and Yates got to work on building a replacement. The computer on the magazine cover was an empty box with just switches and LEDs on the front panel. The finished Altair computer had a completely different circuit board layout than the prototype shown in the magazine.
1974 (December) - The January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics is now available, featuring the MITS Altair 8800 on the cover - and Paul Allen gets a copy at a news stand
Also see - MITS Inc. Altair 8800 .
Bill Gates: In 1971, there's this obscure article on the microprocessor that Intel has done -- what was called the 4004 -- that Paul said, "Look, this thing's going to keep getting better and it's going to be better than these mini-computers." Mini-computers were like $10,000 to $200,000. Paul and I had borrowed some of those and messed around with those. And Paul said, "No, no. They're going to have something better than the mini-computer that costs like $1,000." [...]
Finally, somebody takes the 8080 chip and creates a kit computer, and [the cover story in Popular Electronics in January 1975 is theAltair 8800?] that comes out in December 1974. So we get that, and that's both exciting -- because finally this thing that we've expected has happened -- but the question is, "Is it happening without us?" And so this company, which is in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we call them up and say, "Hey, we can do software for this machine." And they say, "Oh yeah, sure." So we very quickly work on a BASIC for this computer, which I'm well equipped to do, and Paul had some brilliant ideas about how we'd simulate this machine, because we didn't have one, and that was amazing. So we write this thing and we call them up and we say, "Hey, when you connect a teletype up, what's the software programming to get the characters in to print them? How do you do that?" The so-called "input output." And they thought, "Well, that's interesting. You guys may not be flaky, because actually you're the first one who asked that question," which is, if you're going to really write the software, you eventually have to ask that question.
Ed Roberts (founder of MITS, Inc.) received a letter from Traf-O-Data (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traf-O-Data ) asking if he would be interested in buying its BASIC programming language for the machine. He called the company and reached a private home, where no one had heard of anything like BASIC. In fact the letter had been sent by Bill Gates and Paul Allen from the Boston area, and they had no BASIC yet to offer. When they called Roberts to follow up on the letter he expressed his interest, and the two started work on their BASIC interpreter using a self-made simulator for the 8080 on a PDP-10 minicomputer. They figured they had 30 days before someone else beat them to the punch, [...]
In the words of narrator Paul Allen:
So when the right opportunity surfaced, as it did that December, it got my full attention: an open invitation by the MITS company, in Albuquerque, to build a programming language for their new Altair microcomputer, intended for the hobbyist market.
Some have suggested that our Altair basic was remarkable because we created it without ever seeing an Altair or even a sample Intel 8080, the microprocessor it would run on. What we did was unprecedented, but what is less well understood is that we had no choice. The Altair was little more than a bare-bones box with a C.P.U.-on-a-chip inside. It had no hard drive, no floppy disk, no place to edit or store programs.
We moved into Harvard’s Aiken Computation Lab, on Oxford Street, a one-story concrete building with an under-utilized time-sharing system. The clock was ticking on us from the start. Bill had told Ed Roberts, MITS’S co-founder and C.E.O., that our BASIC was nearly complete, and Ed said he’d like to see it in a month or so, when in point of fact we didn’t even have an 8080 instruction manual.
In building our homegrown basic, we borrowed bits and pieces of our design from previous versions, a long-standing software tradition. Languages evolve; ideas blend together; in computer technology, we all stand on others’ shoulders. As the weeks passed, we got immersed in the mission—as far as we knew, we were building the first native high-level programming language for a microprocessor. Occasionally we wondered if some group at M.I.T. or Stanford might beat us, but we’d quickly regain focus. Could we pull it off? Could we finish this thing and close the deal in Albuquerque? Yeah, we could! We had the energy and the skill, and we were hell-bent on seizing the opportunity.
We worked till all hours, with double shifts on weekends. Bill basically stopped going to class. Monte Davidoff, a Harvard freshman studying advanced math who had joined us, overslept his one-o’clock French section. I neglected my job at Honeywell, dragging into the office at noon. I’d stay until 5:30, and then it was back to Aiken until three or so in the morning. I’d save my files, crash for five or six hours, and start over. We’d break for dinner at Harvard House of Pizza or get the pupu platter at Aku Aku, a local version of Trader Vic’s. I had a weakness for their egg rolls and butterflied shrimp.
I’d occasionally catch Bill grabbing naps at his terminal during our late-nighters. He’d be in the middle of a line of code when he’d gradually tilt forward until his nose touched the keyboard. After dozing for an hour or two, he’d open his eyes, squint at the screen, blink twice, and resume precisely where he’d left off—a prodigious feat of concentration.
Working so closely together, the three of us developed a strong camaraderie. Because our program ran on top of the multi-user TOPS-10 operating system, we could all work simultaneously. We staged nightly competitions to squeeze a sub-routine—a small portion of code within a program that performs a specific task—into the fewest instructions, taking notepads to separate corners of the room and scrawling away. Then someone would say, “I can do it in nine.” And someone else would call out, “Well, I can do it in five!”
A few years ago, when I reminisced with Monte about those days, he compared programming to writing a novel—a good analogy, I thought, for our approach to Altair BASIC. At the beginning we outlined our plot, the conceptual phase of the coding. Then we took the big problem and carved it into its component chapters, from the hundreds of sub-routines to their related data structures, before putting all the parts back together.
In their rush to write BASIC for the Altair, Gates and Allen enlisted a quiet dormmate named Monte Davidoff to write an intricate but crucial part of the software. Davidoff was a shy, middle-class kid from Glendale, Wis. "Sweet, unassuming, really quiet guy," recalls Gary Kollin. By character and circumstance, an unequal partner with Gates.
Davidoff's job was to write a portion of the software that would allow the Altair to perform a greater range of calculations. In Albuquerque, he lived with Gates and Allen in a two-bedroom apartment, sleeping on the living room floor. They became friends, Davidoff says, but Gates rode him hard. "There was definitely a supervisory dynamic," Davidoff says. "Bill could get very loud. If he felt you weren't getting something, he would say the same thing, louder. . . . He liked strong interchanges. I preferred not to work in that way."
Davidoff spent the summers of 1975 and 1977 working for Gates and Allen. They offered him a permanent job with Micro-Soft. Davidoff, whose father co-owned a small Milwaukee hardware store, said no, chiefly because he didn't want to drop out of Harvard. Gates, with family money in reserve, could afford to.
"The way Bill and I thought about money was very different," Davidoff says. "He would tell all of his friends, 'Just call me collect.' He knew he wasn't going to have to support himself coming out of college."
Davidoff graduated from Harvard and went on to a career as a programmer. Now 44, he lives in Cupertino, Calif., where he works as an independent software consultant and pays the astronomical rents of Silicon Valley. He often wonders "what if," but says he's comfortable with his limited role in Microsoft's pre-corporate history.
He has not seen Gates for 23 years, except for two random encounters at industry events in San Jose.
1975 (February - late) - Interpreter development for demo is completed !
Initial work may have completed in mid-february .... "By mid-February 1975 the BASIC was running on the 8080 simulator. They arranged to take the BASIC to New Mexico for a demonstration. It had never run on the Altair or any 8080 chip yet - just on the simulator running on Harvard's PDP-10!" ( https://legacy.voteview.com/gates.htm )
In the words of narrator Paul Allen:
By late February [of 1975], eight weeks after our first contact with MITS, the interpreter (which would save space by executing one snippet of code at a time) was done. Shoehorned into about 3,200 bytes, roughly 2,000 lines of code, it was one tight little BASIC—stripped down, for sure, but robust for its size. No one could have beaten the functionality and speed crammed into that tiny footprint of memory: “The best piece of work we ever did,” as Bill told me recently. And it was a true collaboration. I’d estimate that 45 percent of the code was Bill’s, 30 percent Monte’s, and 25 percent mine, excluding my development tools.
Video - History of Microsoft-Bill Gates 1975-77 - HD
"History of Microsoft Bill Gates 1975-77 - HD was converted together using Moroz Video Converter for educational purposes. These videos were available as free for download from MSDN site, and I decided to share them with you guys for educational purposes. These videos is copyrighted by their respective owners."
On July 5, 1991, Buffett was visiting Washington state when he was invited to dinner with Gates’ parents via a mutual friend. The friend teased the possibility that Gates himself might show up, according to Buffett, who told students the story during an event with Gates at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln’s College of Business Administration in 2005.
Meanwhile, Gates protested his invitation.
“It was a funny event because my mom’s very sociable, always getting people together,” Gates tells the students. “I at this time didn’t believe in vacations, was totally focused on my job. So when she said to me, ‘You’ve got to come out and meet Warren...,’ I said, ‘Mom, I’m busy!’”
Gates’ mother pushed back, however, insisting that Buffett would be interesting and worth her son’s time.
“I wasn’t convinced,” Gates writes in a blog post reflecting on the pair’s friendship 25 years later. ”‘Look, he just buys and sells pieces of paper. That’s not real value added. I don’t think we’d have much in common,’ I told her.”
Eventually his mom convinced him to go. “I agreed to stay for no more than two hours before getting back to work at Microsoft,” he writes.
But once Gates and Buffett finally got a chance to talk, things just clicked. Buffett pressed the tech mogul with difficult questions about Microsoft, and Gates welcomed the challenge. “These were amazingly good questions that nobody had ever asked,” he writes.
Gates abandoned his plan to fly back to work that night. “We were suddenly lost in conversation and hours and hours slipped by. He didn’t come across as a big shot investor. He had this modest way of talking about what he does. He was funny, but what impressed me most was how clearly he thought about the world.”
After that night, the pair quickly became close. “It began a really unbelievable friendship for me and I could tell that even though we came from different directions, the kinds of things that fascinated us and that we thought were important were very much the same,” says Gates, speaking to UNL students. [...]
Clips on Bill Gates meeting Buffett...
In that regard he is the opposite of, say, Bill Clinton, who brackets the other end of the baby boom: Gates analytically rigorous and emotionally reserved, the President equally smart but intellectually undisciplined and readily intimate. They played golf on Martha's Vineyard once, and the President, as usual, worked hard at bonding emotionally and being personally charming and intimate. He expressed sorrow about the death of Gates' mother, shared the pain of the recent death of his own mother and gave golfing tips to Melinda. But Gates noticed that Clinton never bore in or showed rigorous curiosity about technological issues. Though he vaguely considers himself a Democrat, Gates stayed neutral in the presidential election.
Warren Buffett, the Omaha, Nebraska, investor whom Gates demoted to being merely the second richest American, seems an unlikely person to be among his closest pals. A jovial, outgoing 66-year-old grandfather, Buffett only recently learned to use a computer. But as multibillionaires go, both are unpretentious, and they enjoy taking vacations together. Buffett's secretary apologetically explains that Buffett isn't giving interviews these days and at the moment is traveling, but she promises to pass along the request. Less than three hours later, Buffett calls to say he happens to be in the Time & Life Building with some free time between meetings in Manhattan, and he would be happy to come by to be interviewed. He likes to talk about Gates.
His favorite story is about the 1995 excursion to China that Bill and Melinda organized for seven couples. "For part of the trip we stayed on a ship in the Yangtze with five decks that normally accommodates hundreds of people," he says with the glee of a kid describing Walt Disney World. "Each evening Melinda arranged different activities." There was karaoke singing in the ship's ballroom, performances of quickie versions of Shakespeare plays, "and a trivia quiz on such things as how many meals we'd eaten, with prizes that Melinda and Bill handed out." When relaxed, Buffett says, Gates has a fun sense of humor. In the Forbidden City they were given a show of huge ancient scrolls that were silently rolled and unrolled by women trained for the task. "There's a $2 fine," Gates whispered, "if you return a scroll not rewound."
When Gates decided to propose to Melinda in 1993, he secretly diverted the chartered plane they were taking home from Palm Springs one Sunday night to land in Omaha. There Buffett met them, arranged to open a jewelry store that he owned and helped them pick a ring. That year Gates made a movie for Buffett's birthday. It featured Gates pretending to wander the country in search of tales about Buffett and calling Melinda with them from pay phones. After each call, Gates is shown checking the coin slot for loose change. When she mentions that Buffett is only the country's second richest man, he informs her that on the new Forbes list Buffett had (at least that one year) regained the top spot. The phone suddenly goes dead. "Melinda, Melinda," Gates sputters, "you still there? Hello?"
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Last October Gates brought Melinda and their new daughter to visit Buffett and his wife in San Francisco. They ended up playing bridge for nine hours straight. Another marathon session in Seattle started in the morning and lasted--with a break for Melinda to pick up lunch at Burger King--until guests started arriving for dinner. "He loves games that involve problem solving," Buffett says. "I showed him a set of four dice with numbers arranged in a complex way so that any one of them would on average beat one of the others. He was one of three people I ever showed them to who figured this out and saw the way to win was to make me choose first which one I'd roll." (For math buffs: the dice were nontransitive. One of the others who figured it out was the logician Saul Kripke.)
Their relationship is not financial. Buffett, who does not invest in technology stocks, bought 100 shares of Microsoft just as a curiosity back when he met Gates ("I wish I'd bought more," he laughs), and Gates describes his investment with Buffett as "only" about $10 million ("I wish I'd invested more," he likewise jokes). But Gates shares Buffett's interest in the media world and even likes to joke that he has created a digital encyclopedia called Encarta that now outsells World Book, which is controlled by Buffett. So far Microsoft has mainly treated content as something that its software managers can create from scratch. But given the relative cheapness of some media stocks compared with that of Microsoft, Gates may someday look for some big acquisitions (he was in serious talks about taking a $2 billion stake in CNN before Time Warner merged with Turner Communications), and Buffett would be a useful partner.
Another of Gates' vacation companions is Ann Winblad, the software entrepreneur and venture capitalist he dated during the 1980s. They met in 1984 at a Ben Rosen-Esther Dyson computer conference and started going on "virtual dates" by driving to the same movie at the same time in different cities and discussing it on their cell phones. For a few years she even persuaded him to stop eating meat, an experiment he has since resolutely abandoned.
They were kindred minds as well as spirits. On a vacation to Brazil, he took James Watson's 1,100-page textbook, Molecular Biology of the Gene, and they studied bioengineering together. On another vacation, to a Santa Barbara, California, ranch, she took tapes of Richard Feynman's lectures at Cornell, and they studied physics. And on a larger excursion with friends to central Africa, which ended at some beach cottages on an island off Zanzibar, among their companions was anthropologist Donald Johanson, known for his work on the human ancestor Lucy, who helped teach them about human evolution. In the evenings on each trip they would go to the beach with four or five other couples for bonfires, Hood Canal-style games and a tradition they called the sing-down, where each team is given a word and has to come up with songs that feature it. Winblad remembers Gates disappearing on a dark beach after his group had been given the word sea, and then slowly emerging from the mist singing a high-pitched solo of Puff, the Magic Dragon.
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Gates was born in Seattle, Washington, on October 28, 1955. He is the son of William H. Gates Sr.[c] (b. 1925) and Mary Maxwell Gates (1929–1994). His ancestry includes English, German, and Irish/Scots-Irish. His father was a prominent lawyer, and his mother served on the board of directors for First Interstate BancSystem and the United Way of America. Gates's maternal grandfather was J. W. Maxwell, a national bank president. Gates has an older sister Kristi (Kristianne) and a younger sister Libby. He is the fourth of his name in his family but is known as William Gates III or "Trey" (i.e., three) because his father had the "II" suffix. The family lived in the Sand Point area of Seattle in a home that was damaged by a rare tornado when Gates was seven years old.
Early in his life, Gates observed that his parents wanted him to pursue a law career. When he was young, his family regularly attended a church of the Congregational Christian Churches, a Protestant Reformed denomination. Gates was small for his age and was bullied as a child. [...]
When he was in the eighth grade, the Mothers' Club at the school used proceeds from Lakeside School's rummage sale to buy a Teletype Model 33 ASR terminal and a block of computer time on a General Electric (GE) computer for the students. Gates took an interest in programming the GE system in BASIC, and he was excused from math classes to pursue his interest. He wrote his first computer program on this machine, an implementation of tic-tac-toe that allowed users to play games against the computer. Gates was fascinated by the machine and how it would always execute software code perfectly. After the Mothers Club donation was exhausted, Gates and other students sought time on systems including DEC PDP minicomputers. One of these systems was a PDP-10 belonging to Computer Center Corporation (CCC) which banned for the summer Gates, Paul Allen, Ric Weiland, and Gates's best friend and first business partner Kent Evans, after it caught them exploiting bugs in the operating system to obtain free computer time.
The four students formed the Lakeside Programmers Club to make money. At the end of the ban, they offered to find bugs in CCC's software in exchange for extra computer time. Rather than use the system remotely via Teletype, Gates went to CCC's offices and studied source code for various programs that ran on the system, including Fortran, Lisp, and machine language. The arrangement with CCC continued until 1970 when the company went out of business.
Gates read the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics which demonstrated the Altair 8800, and he contacted Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) to inform them that he and others were working on a BASIC interpreter for the platform. In reality, Gates and Allen did not have an Altair and had not written code for it; they merely wanted to gauge MITS's interest. MITS president Ed Roberts agreed to meet them for a demonstration, and over the course of a few weeks they developed an Altair emulator that ran on a minicomputer, and then the BASIC interpreter. The demonstration was held at MITS's offices in Albuquerque, New Mexico; it was a success and resulted in a deal with MITS to distribute the interpreter as Altair BASIC. MITS hired Allen, and Gates took a leave of absence from Harvard to work with him at MITS in November 1975. Allen named their partnership "Micro-Soft", a combination of "microcomputer" and "software", and their first office was in Albuquerque. The first employee Gates and Allen hired was their high school collaborator Ric Weiland. They dropped the hyphen within a year and officially registered the trade name "Microsoft" with the Secretary of the State of New Mexico on November 26, 1976. Gates never returned to Harvard to complete his studies.
Microsoft's Altair BASIC was popular with computer hobbyists, but Gates discovered that a pre-market copy had leaked out and was being widely copied and distributed. In February 1976, he wrote an Open Letter to Hobbyists in the MITS newsletter in which he asserted that more than 90% of the users of Microsoft Altair BASIC had not paid Microsoft for it and the Altair "hobby market" was in danger of eliminating the incentive for any professional developers to produce, distribute, and maintain high-quality software. This letter was unpopular with many computer hobbyists, but Gates persisted in his belief that software developers should be able to demand payment. Microsoft became independent of MITS in late 1976, and it continued to develop programming language software for various systems. The company moved from Albuquerque to Bellevue, Washington on January 1, 1979.
Gates said he personally reviewed and often rewrote every line of code that the company produced in its first five years. As the company grew he transitioned into a manager role, then an executive.
IBM, the leading supplier of computer equipment to commercial enterprises at the time, approached Microsoft in July 1980 concerning software for its upcoming personal computer, the IBM PC. IBM first proposed that Microsoft write the BASIC interpreter. IBM's representatives also mentioned that they needed an operating system, and Gates referred them to Digital Research (DRI), makers of the widely used CP/M operating system. IBM's discussions with Digital Research went poorly, however, and they did not reach a licensing agreement. IBM representative Jack Sams mentioned the licensing difficulties during a subsequent meeting with Gates and asked if Microsoft could provide an operating system. A few weeks later, Gates and Allen proposed using 86-DOS, an operating system similar to CP/M, that Tim Paterson of Seattle Computer Products (SCP) had made for hardware similar to the PC. Microsoft made a deal with SCP to be the exclusive licensing agent of 86-DOS, and later the full owner. Microsoft employed Paterson to adapt the operating system for the PC and delivered it to IBM as PC DOS for a one-time fee of $50,000.
The contract itself only earned Microsoft a relatively small fee. It was the prestige brought to Microsoft by IBM's adoption of their operating system that would be the origin of Microsoft's transformation from a small business to the leading software company in the world. Gates had not offered to transfer the copyright on the operating system to IBM because he believed that other personal computer makers would clone IBM's PC hardware. They did, making the IBM-compatible PC, running DOS, a de facto standard. The sales of MS-DOS (the version of DOS sold to customers other than IBM) made Microsoft a major player in the industry. The press quickly identified Microsoft as being very influential on the IBM PC. PC Magazine asked if Gates was "the man behind the machine?".
Gates oversaw Microsoft's company restructuring on June 25, 1981, which re-incorporated the company in Washington state and made Gates the president and chairman of the board, with Paul Allen as vice president and vice chairman. In early 1983, Allen left the company after receiving a Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis, effectively ending the formal business partnership between Gates and Allen, which had been strained months prior due to a contentious dispute over Microsoft equity. Later in the decade, Gates repaired his relationship with Allen and together the two donated millions to their childhood school Lakeside. They remained friends until Allen's death in October 2018.
Gates delivers a speech at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, January 2008
Gates had primary responsibility for Microsoft's product strategy from the company's founding in 1975 until 2006. He gained a reputation for being distant from others; an industry executive complained in 1981 that "Gates is notorious for not being reachable by phone and for not returning phone calls." An Atari executive recalled that he showed Gates a game and defeated him 35 of 37 times. When they met again a month later, Gates "won or tied every game. He had studied the game until he solved it. That is a competitor".
Gates met regularly with Microsoft's senior managers and program managers, and the managers described him as being verbally combative. He also berated them for perceived holes in their business strategies or proposals that placed the company's long-term interests at risk. He interrupted presentations with such comments as "that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard" and "why don't you just give up your options and join the Peace Corps?" The target of his outburst would then have to defend the proposal in detail until Gates was fully convinced. When subordinates appeared to be procrastinating, he was known to remark sarcastically, "I'll do it over the weekend."
During Microsoft's early years, Gates was an active software developer, particularly in the company's programming language products, but his primary role in most of the company's history was as a manager and executive. He has not officially been on a development team since working on the TRS-80 Model 100, but he wrote code that shipped with the company's products as late as 1989. Jerry Pournelle wrote in 1985 when Gates announced Microsoft Excel: "Bill Gates likes the program, not because it's going to make him a lot of money (although I'm sure it will do that), but because it's a neat hack."
On June 15, 2006, Gates announced that he would transition out of his role at Microsoft to dedicate more time to philanthropy. He divided his responsibilities between two successors when he placed Ray Ozzie in charge of management and Craig Mundie in charge of long-term product strategy.
Gates giving his deposition at Microsoft on August 27, 1998
Gates approved of many decisions that led to antitrust litigation over Microsoft's business practices. In the 1998