Today, 28.10.2020: William Henry Gates III, better known as the US entrepreneur Bill Gates, and currently probably one of the richest people in the world, has turned 65 years old. At this point a ‘congratulations’ across the big pond. And a few personal lines, because without Gates my life would certainly have taken a somewhat different course.
I knew that Gates was a few months younger than yours truly and that he was an exceptional talent who founded Microsoft at an early age with Paul Allen. The Wikipedia told me that this foundation already took place on April 4th 1975 in Albuquerque (New Mexico) (had something in mind with 1978 or later). At that time, Gates was probably programming on PDP computers from Digital Equipment and developed a BASIC interpreter, which laid the foundation for Microsoft’s success.
(Bill Gates, 2018, Public Domain)
Gates seems to have been a real high flyer in many things. In the 8th grade he was able to use computing time on a General Electric computer via a teleprinter type ASR-33 of his school. Already at this time he programmed various things in BASIC. At the age of 14, the first company foundation Traf-O-Data followed, which brought in 20,000 US $ with a program for measuring traffic flows. In 1973 he already started his studies at Harward University, while I was just finishing an apprenticeship.
When Gates founded Microsoft to develop a BASIC interpreter for the Altair 8800, I spent the last few weeks sitting at school to get my high school diploma. While Gates was already programming PDF calculators with digital equipment, I had just escaped from a mechanical calculating machine at school and a slide rule. Digital computers only came into my life in 1977 in the form of ‘You create a few more Hollerit punched cards for the next FORTRAN program here on a punched card puncher and run it as a batch program in the affiliated nuclear research facility in Jülich’. The best in terms of computing technology was a Kranz Mulyb 3 computer at the FH Aachen/Jülich, which I have been allowed to use. A PDP 11/04 crossed my path only in 1979 during my diploma thesis and was possibly partly responsible for me going astray and getting into IT.
That Gates and Allen sold an additional DOS operating system to IBM in 1980 for their IBM PC was only vaguely known to me. At that time Apple II computers or similar were more in the focus of the public and I programmed 8085 processor systems for process control in industry in FORTRAN, PL/M and Assembler. The IBM PC and this MS-DOS 1.0x only entered my life in 1983, when the manufacturer delivered the first IBM PC/XT to Europe and it ran across the desk of a colleague. Since the colleague quit the company a few weeks later, the project fell to me like a hot potato (go ahead). That’s how I came in contact with dBASE II, MS-DOS and a lot of photocopied documentation of a Bill Gates from the American company Microsoft – in traditional Microsoft manner the official documentation had not been finished and MS-DOS was updated to some 2.x version within weeks.
In the following years the products of the company Microsoft shaped my professional life and today hardly any user can avoid Microsoft and its products. There were big flops and great successes, some of which I was able to experience first hand. Bill Gates has long since retired from Microsoft and dedicates himself to his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Truly a remarkable life path of Gates, which can be read in detail in Wikipedia
You don’t have to like Gates, but I can say that he has at least influenced my professional life. Without him and his products, things would probably have been less turbulent and less exciting. So I take my hat off to his life’s work, congratulate him on his 65th birthday and say ‘welcome to the club of the 65s’. I guess, Gates is not going to retire.
Cookies helps to fund this blog: Cookie settings