Bill Gates before Microsoft: the first projects


Bill Gates before Microsoft: the first projects
Bill Gates before Microsoft: the first projects

Bill Gates started Microsoft with childhood friend Paul Allen in 1975 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Microsoft would become the world's largest personal computer software company. Gates led the company as both chairman and CEO until January 2000, when he stepped down as CEO, but he remained chairman and became chief software architect.

In June 2006, Gates announced he would move to a part-time role at Microsoft and to focus full-time on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the private charitable foundation that he and ex-wife, Melinda Gates, established in 2000.

Before Microsoft: Bill Gates' first projects

In 1972 Bill and Paul founded Traf-O-Data, which designed a computer to measure road traffic, and made twenty thousand dollars. Traf-O-Data lasted until Bill finished his studies.

The two also worked together to computerize the school's management system, raising $4,200. In their final years of school, they received an offer from TRW: they had to not only find the weaknesses in their system but also implement the fixes.

In 1973 Gary Kildall wrote a simple operating system, the Control Program/Monitor, and left the sources accessible to all for educational purposes. As a student, as in high school, he did not achieve particularly significant results.

And he got lost again in the institute's computer center. At Lakeside, Gates, Allen and their friend, Paul Gilbert, an expert in electronic wiring, built their own computer, using the Intel 8008 processor. The group had the opportunity to demonstrate the product, but after the test failed, the idea of starting a company to produce computer hardware was abandoned.

At the end of his freshman year at Harvard, Gates convinced Allen to move so they could pursue their plans. In the summer of 1974, both found jobs at Honeywell. Towards the end of the summer, Allen pressed more and more with the idea that they should start a software company.

In December 1974, the first assembly kit for the Altair 8800 Microcomputer was released on the American market. Gates and Allen sensed that the personal computer market was about to explode and that software for the new machines would be needed.

Thus they began to develop software using the General Electric hardware, with which Gates and Allen had had their first experiences, and the BASIC language. This was also available on DEC and Gates machines, he thought of contacting MITS, the Altair manufacturer, proposing specific software for their Altair 8800 model.

The company said they were very interested and Gates, working frantically, produced the modifications in eight weeks, while Allen developed an Altair simulator on the school's PDP-10. Monte Davidoff joined the group and wrote some math packages.

Allen later brought the program to the company for the first test on the Altair: once it passed the test, the company bought the software, which was marketed under the name of Altair BASIC.

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