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Bill Gates, the tech Isaiah

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At 13, Bill Gates wrote his first computer programme; a simple piece of code that told the computer to play a game. Back in those days, computers were house-sizeand did not have displays. Programming enthused the young Gates; he was able to make the computer obey him, the computer replaced his toys.

Back in 1968, computers were not as ubiquitous and cheap as today. Gates shelled out $40/hour each time he wanted to use one. Together with a friend, Paul Allen (much older than himself), Gates toiled during summer holidays; worked for computer companies to earn some dosh to spend on computer usage hours.

His older friend Paul was a walking library of physical issues of computers (hardware) but the small Gates was tinkled by programmes.

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In 1972, Allen showed Gates an Intel invention, a chip that could make the computer small and personal. Being what he was, Bill ‘saw’ the software in the chip and convinced Paul into writing code for it. They did but did not mint gold out of it.

Two years later, Intel was back with another chip, much brainier than the previous. That CPU which Intel released in 1974 pronounced the demise of house-size computers of the time. By December of that year, a company called MITS assembled the Altair 8800 personal computer gracing the Intel chip.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen upped their ante and wrote programmes for the Altair 8800. The two whiz kids formed a company and called it Microsoft (tiny software) to reflect the size of the company. Microsoft became the first company that wrote software for Intel computer chips.

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At this point Bill was 19 and a second-year-law student at Harvard. He loved college life; not so much for the academics, college gifted him an environment to converse and share ideas with like-minds, smart kids. Bill made a life-changing decision; he dropped out to concentrate on writing programs.

Microsoft coded Basic, a simple programming language for everyone. It was an instant hit. And something happened and catapulted the small software company into glory; two men from IBM knocked on Microsoft’s door and had an announcement to make: IBM wanted to abandon its erstwhile vertical integration where it built both the hardware and software. The company wanted to go horizontal by sourcing a computer chip from Intel and software from Microsoft to build its first personal computer (PC).

Microsoft took the challenge and the command-line MS-DOS was born. DOS sparked a revolution as many small companies sprouted and started to write apps for DOS.

The two young men did not charge Microsoft exorbitantly. They were clever though, the contract with IBM for DOS was intentionally so obscure that Microsoft was able to license the same to other computer builders. It was that which gifted DOS exponential growth.

Soon People started pirating DOS. This, however, did not stop the lads from minting gold; the more the people stole the software, the more the sales kept ballooning. Microsoft was now more popular outside the United States. Piracy was a blessing in disguise for Microsoft; it acted as a virtual marketing tool for the company.

The rest is well documented, the point is that DOS is the grandfather of Windows 10.

In 1992, Bill Gates penned the book “The Road Ahead”. This beautiful 29- page volume is what the tome of Isaiah is to the faith community. Bill Gates vividly envisions issues like Internet of Things (IoT), Facebook, Twitter, iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S8, online banking systems like Mo626 and FDH 525 and many other tech marvels we see today.

The names may not be in the book but any tech imbued person should be able to read between the lines. All I can say is that the best dreams happen when we are wide awake.

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