The Henry Ford of the Computer Revolution

The Revolution

A headline in the issue of the Popular Electronics that read “Project Breakthrough! World’s First Minicomputer Kit to Rival Commercial Models” triggered the neurons in Bill Gates brain. It was at this moment that Bill Gates was able to foresee that the revolution had begun.

Costing thousands of dollars, most of the earlier versions of computers:

• Were found in university science centers, corporate headquarters and government agencies
• Filled room-sized air conditioned vaults

The revolutionary computer named “Altair”could comfortably fit on a desktop and it:
• Cost only $397 USD
• Had its name from a planet in the TV series Star Trek.

At twenty years old, Gates resolved to become the Henry Ford of the computer revolution. Born in Seattle, Washington on October 28th, 1955, Gates, armed with the slogan “A computer on every desk top” believed that computers like “Altair” would very soon be as much a part of everyday life just as the telephone and automobile had become.

Bill Gates actually was destined to become very rich like Henry Ford because he was able to recognize and pick out “Altair’s” following flaws:

• It lacked interval instructions to convert electrical signals into letters and numbers
• It did little more than cause a few lights to blink in so many different ways.

Bill Gates was determined to write the instructions or the software to make the personal computer useful.

School Chums

Gates and he’s school chum Paul Allen had met in 1967 at Lakeside, an elite private school. When Gates was in 7th grade, Allen was in 9th and the Lakeside mother’s club had bought time on a digital training terminal that connected by phone to a company that leased a mainframe computer. Within weeks of its installation:

• This computer had Gate’s life revolving around it
• He learned programming by writing programs and seeing what actually worked
• Designed a program for student schedules at Lakeside
• Gates carried out an early manifestation of his penchant for defeating competitors by conniving to eliminate them as he placed all the “good girls in the school and very few males of any kind” in his own class.

After Gates was admitted into Harvard, Allen who was working as a programmer for Honeywell, moved into Gate’s dormitory. They began work on the “Altair” operating program as Gates was practically skipping most of his classes.

The Birth of Microsoft

When Gates and Allen had initially telephoned the president of MITS, the manufacturer of “Altair” to inform him that they had written operating software for the computer, Ed Roberts skeptically replied that scores of other programmers had also made similar claims yet so far, no one had actually been able to do it. The school chums were then given two months to bring their software to the company headquarters in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Gates and Allen actually built a stimulator based on the published specifications of the “Altair” to save time and then tirelessly churned out the operating software. They completed the program just hours before Allan boarded the plane to Albuquerque. The next day, the skeptical executives watched as Gates and Allen’s program actually DID work.

Dropping out of Harvard, Gates formed a partnership with Allen and moved their company called Microsoft into Albuquerque.

The Icing on the rich Cake

Money soon was pouring into Microsoft as Gates and Allen proceeded to write operating programs for personal computers introduced by:

• Apple
• Commodore
• Radio Shack

In 1980, IBM approached Gates to write the operating software for its new state-of-the-art personal computer. Initially, IBM had wanted to keep the computer specifications a secret but Gates had other ideas and after IBM agreed:

• Gates software called the Microsoft Disk Operating System or MS-DOS , would be running every IBM personal computer
• Including every other computer made by other companies according to IBM specifications.

The Stroke of a Genius

In 1980, Microsoft sales leaped from $7.5USD million to $140 in 1985.

Gates had become the wealthiest man in the world by 1991.

Establishing the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 1985, its assets were actually over $30 billion (USD) by 2005.The foundation annually gave $2billion to charitable causes focusing especially on education.

In a single stroke, Bill Gates had virtually monopolized the market for the PC operating software.

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