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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

When our Bill was still a Billy, writing bills..

There's a great, heavy Rolling Stone Book on the Seventies. Loved it. A lot of icons from those years. It refreshed my knowledge on the daft beginnings of our computer world, in 1975. Here's two anecdotes on seventies sillyness appointed to computers and some foresight on the role of that Micro-Soft boy..

...many computerists of the Seventies shared a profound mistrust of big business and a nearly religious belief that the computer was a tool of personal liberation ( Seventies..). Even when they went into business, they chose names that mocked largeness or were simply silly. The Itty Bitty Machine Company lasted long enough for IBM’s lawyers to draft a cease-and-desist letter; Kentucky Fried Computers had only a slightly longer life. Apple Computer is the last reminder of the days when whimsy was more powerful than a marketing department.
Consider Bill Gates. He saw the MITS Altair 8800 on the cover of a Popular Electronics Magazine in 1975. The $397 Altair was a boring box with blinking lights - a primitive fossil. In fact, once you’d built the box, you still had to be exceedingly clever at programming in order to make the lights blink. Gates dropped out of school to develop, along with his buddy Paul Allen, the form of BASIC language needed to make its lights blink. Since no other language existed at the time, the first Micro-Soft (as it was then spelled) product was an instant hit. But Bill was soon unhappy, for he ran into a prevailing notion of the liberation idealism: “Information wants to be free.” People were sharing Bill’s software with one another, rather than purchasing new copies for themselves. He promptly wrote a testy “open letter” about how people should pay for his work rather than give copies to friends, and if they didn’t, there wasn’t going to be any more useful software coming from him, thank you very much.
Computer hobbyists immediately attacked Gates as a mercenary snake who wanted to own the garden - they were right. He ownes it.

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