Bill Gates and Microsoft

January 4, 2018

Comment from E-mail

Some people claim that Bill Gates will be given credit for creating the personal computer in the history books. What do you think about this and Microsoft in general?


That’s ridiculous. Bill did have an important part. In 1975 when I was in the Homebrew Computer Club and designing my computer, Bill’s BASIC brought a usable computer language to those technicians that could now afford a cheap Altair computer. Tons of games were the starting point for this revolution.

I’d spent a couple of important, earlier years of my life teaching myself to program a computer language in machine language, even though I never had access to a computer to even start debugging my programs. They were just written on paper, generally during college math classes and the like. I awe Bill Gates’ BASIC and decided that was the language for me to use on my ‘second’ computer, which became the Apple I (the first had been built a few years earlier). In the end, I spent a lot more time on this than on the hardware designs and other things.

Do note that I did all the hardware and software and keyboard control programs and BASIC and graphic programs and apps and demos and peripherals (cassette interface, printer interface and driver, serial interfaces and drivers, floppy controller and driver and boot code and OS kernel, and more). Bill Gates gave up engineering (programming) after one program and made all of Microsoft’s programs as a businessman, primarily ‘buying’ them.

Once in a while history credits the scientist or engineer over the businessman. Einstein is an example of this. But usually the measure is in terms of dollars and power and longevity in the business.