It was to be the biggest launch of a software product in computer industry history. More than. people had turned out on a humid Tuesday. Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire Hardcover – April 16, Gates: How Microsoft's Mogul Reinvented an Industry--and Made. Wallace and Erickson also chronicle the Federal Trade Commission's recent investigation of Microsoft for possible antitrust. Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire Paperback – June 1, In this fascinating exposé, two investigative reporters trace the hugely successful career of Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Gates: How Microsoft's Mogul Reinvented an Industry--and Made.
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However, it does offer one of the most flexible pricing plans available. Cost: Men are doing more chores around the house — just not as many as they think they are doing. Allen would hoist Gates on garbage cans so he could poke around for im portant tidbits of information left behind by the "day shift. Kent Evans was often there late into the night with Gates. After four or five hours working in front of a computer, the boys would send out for pizza and Coke. It was a hacker's heaven.
Occasionally, a tall, quiet, bearded fellow by the name of Gary Kildall dropped by in the evenings to use the computers Kildall was finishing work on his Ph.
Ten years later, hewould fumble one ofthebiggest business. The ground rules set down by C-Cubed for the night shift were pretty straightforward. The boys could use the system as much as they wanted, at no charge. They were encouraged to try to crash the system, and when it went down, they were to tell C-Cubed what they had input when it crashed.
The deal was theycould find any bug once, butonly once. C-Cubed would then "de-bug" that part of the program.
Steve Russell was famous as a computer programmer, and the kids eagerly plied him for information. Russell had gone to college at Dartmouth but left in to work as a computer. It was McCarthy, an absent-minded professor and master mathematician who came up with the term "artificial.
Russell worked for hours just to produce adot on thescreen, which would becommanded tochange directions and accelerate by flipping toggle switches on the front of the computer. Eventually, his game took shapea battle in outer space involving two rocket ships, each with 31 torpedoes. Rus sell was another big science fiction fan.
Random dots on the screen represented stars. A subsequent program turnedthe stars. Other hackers improved on his game. A player could jump into hyperspace with the flick of a switch. Before long, a generation of new games followed. C-Cubed was created to take the next. Russell sometimes gave Gates and Allen computer manuals, with instructions to return them the next morning.
Instead of going home, the boys would remain at C-Cubed all night reading. He was partic ularly good at finding a bug known as the "one liner. Legend has it that Gates was severely reprimanded atC-Cubed for breaking into security systems. However, other thanthe one time he altered his account from Lakeside, those stories are.
After all, C-Cubed couldn't fix asecurity leak unless it knew about it. Digital had supplied an elaborate security sys tem with the PDP, for which the C-Cubed staffadded a few bellsandwhistles of their own. They wantedto know if someone.
He did so with the knowledge and permission of C-Cubed. The distinction is they were not stealing anything from us, and they were doing it not just with our ap that they found.
We wanted them to tell us about holes Despite the work ofGates, Allen, and the other kids from Lakeside, DEC continued to have problems with themulti-user software it used. It would take another seven years before all the bugs were gone. Gates was finishing upthe ninth grade when C-Cubed went under. When it did, he made the first of what would be many. In the process, he showed thatwhen it came to business, he didn't allow anything, even friendship, to stand in the way.
They hid the tapes in the Lakeside teletype machine. When an angry Allen found out, he took the tapes. Gates and Evans threatened legal action, despite the fact that they were barely teenagers. Mary and Bill, Jr. They became increasingly concerned about their son. The Ma. Although he was only in the ninth grade, he already seemed. When not so transfixed, they often sit at tables strewn. They work until they nearly drop, twenty, thirty hours at atime.
Their food, if they arrange it, is brought to them: If possible, they sleep on cots near theprintouts. Their rumpled clothes, their unwashed and unshaven faces, and theiruncombed hair all testify that they are oblivious to their bodies and to the. Weizenbaum was describing young men at MIT in the late sixties, at the artificial intelligence lab. The passage in his book became infamous in computer circles. Hackers considered it unfounded and vicious. They saw the computer as a revolu But Weizenbaum con sidered it dehumanizing.
Young men addicted to The Machine had no sense of limits, he said. They had tunnel vision, unable to see the real world. Although they had never pushed him in any direction before, they did so now. They or dered him to give up computers, at least for a while. So my parents said, 'Why.
Education Next is a journal of opinion and research about education policy.
It was no big deal, he said. There was an infinite amount to. Read he did, with the same kind of commitment he had made to computers. He consumed a number of biographiesFranklin Roosevelt's and Napoleon's, among othersto under. He read business and science books, along with novels. His favorites. Holden Caulfield, the main character in Catcher in the Rye, became one of his heroes. In fact, nothing about Bill Gates was normal.
Gates used to be teased at Lakeside because. Even in an environment like Lakeside, where smart kids tended to.
In aschool carpool, Gates, who was younger and smaller than the other boys, always sat in the back and was. Occasionally, he would attempt to win their approval by telling a joke.
When he did, one older. It didn't take long for other students to notice that the same kids always seemed to crowd the small computer room at Lakeside.
The floor was often littered with.
The teletype was usually hammering away. Gates and his friends often sat at a long table, drinking. Chinese game ofGo to while away the time until the computer had finished the job it was running. With all the time he spent in the computer room, Gates became a master of Go and could beat anyone in the school.
They were part ofthe reason I got out ofcomputer work They had developed very narrowly socially and they were arrogant, and I just didn't want to be like that Initially I was in awe of Gates and the others inthatroom. I evenidolized themto some extent. But I found that they were such turkeys that I didn't want to ". He would often hold court in the computer room for hours, talking shop and telling stories about industry hackers and "phone phreaks" like Captain.
Crunch, who had gained national notoriety bybuilding so-called blue boxes, which allowed the user to make free long-distance Gates was Brad Augustine, four years his junior.
One of these computer groupies who came to hear forget to clip his fingernails," Augustine recalled.
Hydroplanes set to rip-up the aqua oval on Lake Guntersville
He was a slob in that sense, just so much into whatever he was doing. The school annual of his graduating year at Lakeside con tains apicture ofGates lying on the table in thecomputer room, man? I don't think there was anyone inthe school who didn't. Bill fit that latter category. He looked like a little kid, for one thing. He looked much younger than he was.
He was also incredibly obnoxious. He was also consid. If you had asked anybody at Lakeside, 'Who is the real genius among geniuses? When people thought of Bill they thought, well, this guy is going to win a Nobel Prize.
But he didn't haveanysocial graces. He just wasn't. He was one of those guys who knew he was smarter than everyone else and knew he was right all the time. He had a hard-nosed, confrontational style even with his teachersa style he is noted for today. His intensity at times. Maestretti, who now chairs the school's science department, has no recollection ofthe argument, but he certainly remembers Gates, and his best friend Kent Evans.
Gates was yelling at the top of his lungs, waving his finger, hammering away at Maestretti, telling him he was wrong about aphysics point Bill wasn't one to produce a lot of writing. As a project, Maestretti asked him to assemble aRadio Shack electronics kit, in order to force him to build something correctly and make it work.
He was legendary in his classes for correctly answering trick questions-he almost always saw "He was always one step ahead," said Carl Edmark, his.
Gates was impatient with those not as quick as he was, teach ers included. His science teacher, William Dougal, once com. His superior attitude rubbed some of his classmates the wrong way. Colby Atwood, who was ayear ahead ofGates, sat in front of Gates in a law class taught by lawyer Gary Little. Gates, at this point, was ajunior. One day Gates laughed at a student who was slow to answer aquestion put to him by Little. When Atwood, who didn't particularly care for Gates, heard him snicker at his friend, he turned around, grabbed Gates by.
Atwood saw Gates again on aplane 20 years later, when Gates boarded at the last moment. He had a sense of humor and adventure. He was a risk taker, a guy who liked to have ftm andwho was fun to be with. He hadanimmense. When he was 16, Gates bought a new, red Mustang. We would often just rap for hours. Throughout high school, Gates and Edmark did practi tang, hung out at hamburger stands, and played endless games ofpinball.
On weekends in the summer months, they went water skiing on Hood Canal. They also learned to hang glide on Hood Canal behind a speedboat with a 1,foot tow line attached to a foot kite.
We were both interested in. In their sophomore year, Edmark had asummer job working in a Seattle bank. One day, an elderly woman came in and de posited several thousand-dollar bills into her account. That night, he told Gates.
The next day, he gave Edmark ahuge wad oftwenty-dollar bills, and Edmark took the money to one ofthebank's managers, who gave him athousanddollar bill. That night, Edmark and Gates went to Dick's, a popular hamburger hangout noted for serving the greasiest fries in town. The two boys ordered cheeseburgers and fries.
When the order came, Gates nonchalantly opened his wallet and handed the. She looked at the bill, then looked up at Gates, repeating her eye motion several times.
Finally she went to get the manager. Gates, looking five years younger than his age, shook his head solemnly. But not now," replied the manager. Gates and Edmark burst into laughter.
They finally paid for their food with acouple ofbucks and headed offinthe Mustang into the night. Although Gates may not have known what he was going to do with his life during high school, he seemed confident that. In the 11th grade, Gates told his friend Paul Carlson that he would be a millionaire by the time he was 30 years old. While Gates was on his nine month sabbatical, Paul Allen had been busy finding new. Allen knew his way around. He found a PDP computer in the physics depart.
He discovered other computers in the engineering department. By the time Gates was back in the fold, the Lakeside Programmers Group. Once C-Cubed went out of business, it was just finding time on anything. But like the stories of his.
Control Data Corporation was one ofthe so-called Seven Dwarfs that made mainframe computers in the s in. Said Gates ofthe story: The Lakeside Programmers Group received an important business opportunity in early Information Sciences Inc. Recalled Gates: They weren't even writing the payroll program. So they asked me to come back in and I said. We got free computer It ended up being a good deal for everybody.
Group would have to become a formal partnership. Gates' dad helped with the legal formalities and also assisted with the ISI contract. He became the group's principal legal adviser. Gates and Evans were 15 years old. Evans kept a journal of the ISI.
Wrote Evans in one. March 16 is our deadline. This is very educational because we've. During the past few weeks we've been frantically trying to getit done. Tuesday we go to Portland to deliver the program, and as they have put it, 'Hammer out. After the meeting, Kent wrote, ". Paul, Bill and I didn't want to be paid. The royalty scheme went over.
We get about ten percent of the money ISI gets because of one of our programswe get more in the long run and the company doesn't need to tie up any of its capital.
But he and Gates were already working on another moneymaking project involving their own company, which they called Traf-O-Data. The idea behind their enterprise was ingenious. Almost every municipality used metal boxes linked to rubber hoses that. These traffic boxes contained a channel paper tape twice as wide as the 8-channel tape used in old teletype machines , and each time a car.
The numbers reflected. Municipalities hired private companies to translate this raw data into information city engineers could then use, for example, to determine how long atraffic light needed to be red or green for the best tr? But the companies providing these services were slow and expensive. Gates and Allen figured they could program a com puter to analyze the traffic-counter tapes, then sell the infor mation to municipalities faster and cheaper than the competi tion.
Gates recruited seventh and eighth graders at Lakeside to. His software program turned the data into easily readable traffic-flow charts. Chris Larson, four years behindGates, was one of a handful of students hired at low wages to transcribe numbers from the. Several other students helped out, as did a few mothers when the kids were overwhelmed with homework.
It proved a difficult task. They hired a Boeing engineer to help with the hardware design. They connected a channel paper tape reader to their "computer," and fed traffic-counter tapes directly into the machine. It was not nearly as capable as the microcomputers that would come later, but the Traf-O-Data machine workedmost. Mary Gates once recalled her son demonstrating his traffic machine to a city official in her dining room. When the computer crashed, and the official lost interest, Bill pleaded with his mother, "Tell him mom, tell him it really works!
But the enterprise was never a great success, and it eventually folded after Gates went off to college. During his junior year at Lakeside, while finding business for Traf-O-Data, Gates came up with other money-making schemes. He and Evans formed another computer group, called.
Logic Simulation Company, and they sent out student flyers to drum up business and a cheap labor force. One of their letters to Lakeside students said: These include class scheduling, working on traffic volume studies, producing cookbooks.
We want to expand our work force, which now has five Lakesiders. It's not just for computer freaks. We think we will need people who can type and do drafting and archi tectural drawings. The letter mentioned "equal opportunity for males and fe males," and included a form for interested students to note how many hours they might be able to work, their availability for summer employment, and their computer experience. In May , near the end of their junior year, Gates and Evans were approached by the Lakeside administration about.
The scheduling system had long been atime-consuming mess. Lakeside wanted the new computer program ready for the start ofthe school year in the fall. A former Boeing engineer who had been hired as a math teacher at Lakeside had. The job now fell to Gates and Evans. Tragically, less than aweek later, on May 28, Memorial Day weekend, Kent Evans was killed in a mountain-climbing acci dent. A few months after Evans died, the school learned he was. Gates, too, made the list the next year he would be a finalist.
After Evans died, a shaken Gates asked Allen to help him with the class scheduling project. They agreed to do it that summer when Allen returned from Washington State University. The first month or so of that summer, as a kind of farewell. House of Rep resentatives. His parents had gotten him the job through Brock. Adams, who was now a congressional representative. Gates quickly showed his talent for making business deals. When Congress adjourned for the summer recess, Gates returned to Seattle to help Allen withthe class-scheduling work.
They wrote their program using the free computer time they had accrued from Information Sciences Inc. Lakeside paid them The scheduling program they de signed is still used at Lakeside, althoughit hasbeen refined over the years.
The schedule proved a big hit with students that fall, par ticularly to some members of the senior class whothanks to Gates and some creative schedulingdidn't have any classes on Tuesday afternoon. The group of seniors wore silk-screen Tshirts, with "Tuesday Club" printed on the shirts over the out line of a keg of beer. Girls had been admitted to Lakeside at the start of Gates'.
Nicholas, an allgirls school. Gates signed up for a drama class during his senior year that included some of the first female students to attend Lakeside. The Thurber play re quired that Gates memorize a three-page monologue. Gates, with a nearly photographic memory, merely glanced at the pages for a few seconds and had the material memorized. It's a very dry piece. But he did a delightful job in the play.
He was absolutely charming. He sent letters to area schools, offering to computerize their schedule. He offered a system that he said was 95 percent conflict-free. We would appreciate opportunities to discuss this with you. It was run not by the university but by the uni versity's student government association. Gateswas hired forthe programming job by the association. One problem arose, however, and it did not have to do with the.
His sister Kristi, a student at the University of Washington at the time, was an officer on the student gov ernment association.
When the campus paper learned her. As he entered the secondtrimester of his senior year, Gates was still looking for a way to use his computer experiences to earn "real" money. He didn't have to wait long. One day Gates received a call from a man from TRW, the giant defense contractor. Moments later, Gateswason the phone. TRW, Gates hurriedly explained to Allen, wanted the two of them to go down to Vancouver for a job interview as soon as possible.
We gotta do it. Paul Allen didn't need any coaxing. Although he was only in his second year at Washington State University, Allen was weary of college life, and restless. He wanted to get out in the real world, apply what he knew about computers, and make some money.
Perhaps he and Bill might form their own software company. They had talked about doing just that many times. Up to now the payback from their business ventures had.
But TRW offered a full-time.
Bill Gates calls Microsoft losing to Android his ‘greatest mistake ever'
The giant government defense contractor was in trouble. TRW was in the midst ofa project to computerize the Bonneville Power Administration's power grid for the Northwest. Com puters would analyze the power needs of the region and control the amount of electricity generated by hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River. But the project soon fell behind schedule. As usual, the PDP software was infested with bugs.
The con tract called for a real-time control system with It was time to call in the exterminators. The names of two bug hunters appeared on nearly every pageBill Gates and Paul Allen.
TRW contacted Gates by phone at his home, suggesting he and Allen come down to Vancouver for an interview. To get paid for something we loved doing Gates received permission from Lakeside to miss the second trimester of his senior year so he could work full-time at TRW. Allen dropped out of Washington State University, and the two found an apartment in Vancouver, miles from Seattle.
It was at TRW that Gates began to develop as a serious computer programmer. Computer programming is more of an. The best programmers have a style as rec ognizable to other programmers as the brush stroke of a great painter. Gates fancies himself a master programmer, although today he hasn't written code in years because he's too busy running his company. There were several top-notch programmers on the TRW project.
One of the best was John Norton. He liked to write. It was the first time Gates had seen anyone respond that way before, and it left a lasting impression. To this day, Gates sends his own electronic memos to his programmers at Microsoft, commenting on their codes. Often they are critical and sarcastic. More than one unlucky programmer at Microsoft has received E-mail at 2: Whenever Gates madeamistake or did sloppywork, Nor ton wouldreview hiscode andexplain what he had done wrong or how he could do it better and more efficiently.
There was, however, stillthe matter of finishing high school. In the spring of , having already been accepted at Harvard for the fall, Gates returned to Seattle for his final trimester at.
In a calculus class, he made his only ap pearance to take the final exam, which he aced. He received a. Bill Hucks, also in the class of '73 at Lakeside, remembers a squash match with Gates in the school gym shortly before they graduated in June. After the match, which Gates won, Hucks asked him, "So. Gates said he was heading off to Harvard in the fall.
Then he added, in a very matter-of-fact way: He talked about the future as if his success was predestined, a given, as certain as the mathematical proof that one plus one equals two. Everyone at school knew his background.
But his summer wasn't completely a binary existence of zeros and ones, of latenight pizza and Coke in front of a computer terminal. He used part of his salary to download a speed boat, and he and his friends. As the summer wore on and it was nearly time for Gates to leave Vancouver to attend college, he and Allen began to talk seriously about forming their own software company. For some time now they had shared the same vision, that one day the computer would be as commonplace in the home as a television set, and that these computers would need softwaretheir software.
He had arrived in Cambridge in the fall of with no. Although he listed his academic major as prelaw, he had little interest in. Nor did his parents have any expectations that he would. There was no pressure on him to. They onlyinsisted he go to college and mix with other students.
And what better environment for their son than. Harvard, America's oldest institution of higher learning? There was a mystique about the place. It conjured up images of suc cess, power, influence. Supreme Court justices went to Harvard. So did presidents. Now their son had ascended. Any plans he had to form a software company with Paul Allen would have to wait, his parents insisted. They didn't have a specific plan in mind, but they thought I should live with other undergraduates, take normal undergraduate courses.
The Yard is the center of what was the original college, founded in , just 16 years after the Pilgrimslanded at Plymouth. At the end of their first year, students can apply to live in twelve residential houses. Gates was assigned to one of the dorms his freshman year and roomed with two other students, Sam Znaimer and Jim Jen kins. They had been assigned the same room by chance. They didn't know each other.
The three came from vastly different backgrounds and culturesjust the kind of environment Gates'. Gates wasarich white kid from Seattle. Znaimer was a poor Jewish kid from Canada whose parents had immigrated to Montreal after the Holocaust. He was attending Harvard on a scholarship, majoring in chemistry. Jenkins was a middle-class black kid from Chattanooga, Tennessee, whose fa ther was in the service. I didn't know those kinds of people in Montreal. Bill was someone who came from a comfortable family and had gone.
He would talk about how some governor of the state of Washington used to hang out with his grandfather. On the other hand,. Bill was very down-to-earth.
There was not a lot of bullshit or pompousness about him. We all lived more or less the same lifestyle. We all ate together, worked together, and as a group we were all interested in science, engineering and that kind of stuff. We also all loved science fiction. What was unusual was that he was allowed to set aside those graduate-level courses in math, phys ics, and computer science and apply the credits toward a grad uate degree later.
That first year he took one of Harvard's most difficult math courses, called "Math Gates did well in the course, but he was not the. Two other students finished ahead of him, including Andy Braiterman, who lived in the same dorm as Gates.
He and Gates became good friends and later roomed together. Gates took the typical undergraduate coursesin economics, history, literature, and psychology. His attitude toward class work was much the same as it had been at Lakeside.
He worked hard and did well in those courses he cared about. He didn't. However, he still did well because he was so smart. In Greek literature his fresh. That Gates would fall asleep in class was not surprising. He was living on the edge. It was not unusual for him to go as long as three days without sleep.
And if that meant he was starting again at three o'clock in the morning, so be it. His sleeping habits were just as bizarre. Gates never slept on sheets. He wouldcollapse on hisunmade bed, pullanelectric Gates still falls asleep instantaneously. When he flies, he often puts a blanket over his head and sleeps for the entire flight.
To his roommates and the small group of students he hung out with, Gates was a very intense character. He would often work himself into a frenzy of energy and start rocking back and forth, head in his hands, during a conversation or while reading or concentrating on a mental problem. Sometimes, he would wave his arms madly about to make a point in conversations. Much of this energy was directed toward computers, just asit had been at Lakeside.
Although Gates may not have decided what he was going to do with his life when he entered Harvard, to those who knew him there was little doubt about his real. He worked for weeks during his first year there on a BASIC program for a computer baseball game, which required that he figure out highly complex algorithms that would rep resent figures on the computer screen hitting, throwing, and catching a baseball.
Even when he was sound asleep under his electric blanket, Gates was dreaming about computers. Once, about three o'clock in the morning, Gates began talking in his sleep, repeating over and over again, "One comma, one comma, one comma, one comma Znaimer would.
There were several games on the computers, including Steve Russell's "Space Wars," and Gates and Znaimer would play computer games into the early morning hours. To unwind and relax, Gates, Znaimer, and Braiterman would. The lounge also had an early version of the video He sold the game through his startup company, Atari. As usual, when it came to games the competitive Gates almost always won.
He became an exceptional player at both pinball and "Pong. I don't remember him chasing any women, and there were lots of opportunities. He did see one young woman occasionally when he returned home on holiday breaks to Se attle, but they were not romantically involved.
Gloyd was a couple years younger than Gates, having entered college early, at age They met through their parents. Her stepfather was on the state bar association's board of gov ernors, as was Gates' father. Gates did not make a very good impression on Gloyd. He lacked the social graces a young lady would have expected of a Harvard man. It was clear to Gloyd that Gates had had little experience with women. The first thing he wanted to know when they met was the score she made on her college SAT.
I thought maybe I hadn't heard him right. I thought it rather odd to say the least. Math and verbal scores each count a maximum of points. Gates told her that when he first took. The second time he took They did see each other a few more times.
Once, when both were home from college, they accompanied their fathers on a bar association trip to Friday Harbor in the scenic San Juan Islands. Gloyd and several other young people on the trip took off in their parents' cars and went into town at night to dance and party.
Gates, however, stayed behind and played poker with the adults. Bill was real shy. I didn't get the impression at the time that he had a lot of experience dating girls and going out and doing social things. I may have thought of him then as being nerdy, but I think he just didn't want to spend a lot of time doing things he wasn't interested in.
He had already been out there in the "real world. You could find other people who were really good mathematicians or really good physicists. But Bill had a lot more hands-on experience. He had gone and worked in various environments, like TRW. Znaimer remembered Gates spending several nights in his dorm room in early working on an IRS tax return for his Traf-O-Data business. It was something my parents did," Znaimer said.
He had negotiated deals with municipalities in several states, as well as Canada. But the enterprise was being undercut by the federal government, which had decided to help cities and counties analyze traffic statistics.
No one was going to pay Gates and Allen for this service when the feds would do it for nothing. Their contracts in Canada were not enough to keep the business going. At one point, they even considered selling Traf-O-Data machines to a firm in Brazil, but the deal fell through.
With their company on the skids, Gates and Allen began having long telephone discussions about what they should do next. Allen decided he would join his friend after Gates completed his first year. They would work together and "brainstorm" about future projects. Much to his parents' dis may, Gates was even thinking about dropping out of Harvard. He and Allen were serious about starting their own computer company, he told his parents.
That summer of , Gates in terviewed for a job at various places around Boston, including Honeywell, one of the so-called Seven Dwarfs that made main frame computers in the shadow of Snow Whitemighty IBM.
A manager at Honeywell who interviewed Gates telephoned Allen in Seattle. Come on out to Boston and we'll finalize the deal. Allen packed up his Chrysler New Yorker and headed east, driving across the country in three days to join Gates. But when Allen got to Boston, he was in for a surprise. He went to Ho neywell dressed in his best suit to talk with the manager who had called him in Seattle. He and Gates worked together at Honeywell for the rest of the summer.
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Gates and Allen were convincedthe computer industry was aboutto reach critical mass, andwhen it exploded it would usher in a technological revolution of astounding magnitude. They were on the threshold of one of those moments when history held its breath.
Computer power was about to come to the masses. Their vision of a computer in every home was no longer a wild dream.
And they could either lead the revolution or be swept along by it. Allen was much more eager to start a company than Gates, who was worried about the reaction from his family if he dropped out of school. He kept say ing, It's gonna be too late. We'll miss it. For a while, they considered building their own computer. Allen was more interested in computer hardware than Gates, whose interest was pure softwarethe "soul" of The Machine.
As a boy, Allen had read electronics magazines and built radio and shortwave sets. He had worked with vacuum tubes, tran. But that experience also taught him what it took to build a computer. He and Gates soon aban doned the idea. They decided to stick with what they knew bestsoftware. Building a computer was too hair-raising. Our forte was software. The time just wasn't right to start their company. Allen stayed on at Honeywell while Gates returned to Harvard to begin his sophomore year.
Gates landed in Currier House, where he roomed with his. Clearly, Gates was confused about his academic future. He would later say that he spent many hours sitting in his room "being a philosophical depressed guy, trying to figure out what I was doing with my life. Lots of poker. This great American game of riverboat gamblers and U. He put the same intensity into his poker playing as he did anything else that mattered. When he first started playing poker, Gates was terrible.
But he was very determined, and eventually be came a pretty good player. He had a determination to master what ever it was he was doing. Perhaps it's silly to compare poker and Microsoft, but in each case, Bill was sort of deciding where he was going to put his energy and to hell with what anyone else thought.
It was not unusual for players to win or lose several hundred dollars a night. The game of choice was Seven Card Stud, high-low split, meaning the player with the best poker hand splits the pot with the player with the worst hand.
The games were played nightly in Currier House in a room that was hardly ever used for anything else. It became known as the "poker room. Braiterman also. Other than Gates, none of the poker crowd went on to become bil lionaires, but they didn't do badly, either.
Wolf, known as the "Captain" of the games, is a mathematics professor at the Cal Drill is president of Varitronics Systems, an office machine firm in.
Leithauser is a poet, author, and frequent con tributor to The New Yorker. He teaches at Mt. Holyoke College. Braiterman is a top Wall Street tax attorney. By most accounts, Gates became a good enough player to hold his own with this crowd. So we would raise the stakes, and people would lose their money andthey wouldleave.
Toward the end of the poker games at Harvard, it was guys who all we did full-time was play poker. By the very end, I was just able to hold my own.
Trying to break his addiction, Gates once gave Allen custody of his checkbook.
Then he asked for it back. Drill said he often got the best of Gates in big pots when they went mano-a-mano. Gates, he said, had a tendency to play out his hand to the costly end whenever he believed he had correctly "read" other players at the table.
Because of this ten dency, Drill would sometimes razz Gates. He came up with a nickname for Gates from a popular dog food commercial of the day. One student at Currier House who heard all about Gates'. After a long night of gambling, Gates would sometimes drop by Ballmer's room to recount his adventures at the poker table. Ballmer was usually awake.
He was able to go without sleep as long as Gates could. They had the same intensity level, the same unlimited energy source. They were on the same wavelength.
In Gatesspeak, it's known as"high bandwidth communication," or the amount of information one can absorb. The two would. A short while into most conversations, Gates and Ballmer would start. Several years later, Gates would ask Ballmer to join him at the controls of the Microsoft joyride. He would become the second most influential person in the company, next to Chair man Bill.
As an initiation rite, Gates was. Just as Gates wanted to be accepted as one of the boys back at Lakeside in Seattle, he also wanted to fit in at Harvard. Despite his association with the outgoing Ballmer, Gates was very much a loner with only a small group of friends. His shyness often came across as aloofness. He was not the sort of person who hung out with alot of people. I don't mean he wasn't social in the sense of being unfriendly or anything.
He just wasn't very outgoing. Steve was. Ballmerdid not have the passion for computers or the tech nical background that Gates had, but he did share his interest in mathematics. Ballmer was working on a degree in applied mathematics. At one time in high school, Gates had thought It was one of many career possibilities.
Now, at Harvard, he was having second thoughts. Still, he continued to take grad uate-level math courses his sophomore year. He would stump the teacher. He seemed to take great joy in that. He and Gates. But Leitner couldn't get the younger Gates to work on problems he didn't think worthy of his time. Gates only liked the challenge of the most difficult problems. But it was worth it. A couple minutes on the phone with him andhe wouldstraighten me out on acomplexmath problem.
He was a real character. Even at Harvard, he was one of the top math students. But he was not the best. He had met several students better. Gateseventually gave up any thoughts of becoming a mathematician. If he couldn't be the best in his field, why risk failure?
You can persevere in the field of math and make incredible breakthroughs, but it probably discouraged me. It made the odds much longer that I could do some world-class thing. I had to really think about it: Hey, I'm So it made me think about whether math was something I wanted to do or not.
My mind was pretty much open. I thought law would be fun I thought physiological psy chologythe study of the brainwould be fun. I thought working in artificial intelligence would be fun. I thought theoretical computer science would be fun.
I really had not zeroed in on something. He helped advance the solution to a mathematical puzzle that had been around for some time. No one had come up with a definitive solution.In the late seventies and early eighties, he was one of the key figures in thecreati But the project soon fell behind schedule.
Ashley Mott. Znaimer was a poor Jewish kid from Canada whose parents had immigrated to Montreal after the Holocaust. Seven years later, the two classmates would form Microsoft,.