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BLOGGING FROM A TO Z

A 1970’s Time Capsule

NEWS AND NOTEWORTHY

Be sure to visit my Pop Culture post today as well.

The A to Z Challenge has dueling decades going on.  Check out the 1980s theme from a fellow blogger HERE

GATES, ALLEN AND MICROSOFT

1983 --- Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1983 just after completing MS Dos for the Tandy laptop and signing a contract to write MS Dos for IBM. Microsoft Company had 100 employees in an office in downtown Bellevue, Washington. --- Image by © Doug Wilson/CORBIS

1983 — Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1983 just after completing MS Dos for the Tandy laptop and signing a contract to write MS Dos for IBM. Microsoft Company had 100 employees in an office in downtown Bellevue, Washington. — Image by © Doug Wilson/CORBIS

Most people would agree that one of the most important if not the most important invention since World War II has been for personal computing.  At the forefront of personal computing has been a corporation that started in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Paul Allen showed Bill Gates the January 1, 1975 issue of the magazine, Popular Electronics.

The January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics featured the new Altair 8800, and alerted Bill Gates and Paul Allen that the era of the personal computer was about to begin. (Academy of Achievement)

The January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics featured the new Altair 8800, and alerted Bill Gates and Paul Allen that the era of the personal computer was about to begin. (Academy of Achievement)

In that issue, the Altair 8800 was demonstrated.  Allen and Gates saw potential to develop an implementation of the programming language BASIC interpreter for the system. Bill Gates called the creators of the new microcomputer, Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), offering to demonstrate the implementation in order to win a contract with the company. This was a bluff as Allen and Gates had neither an interpreter nor an Altair system.  In the eight weeks time that they had before the date of the demo,  they did developed an interpreter. When Allen flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico to meet with MITS, the interpreter worked and MITS agreed to distribute Altair BASIC. Allen and Gates left Boston, where Allen worked for Honeywell and Gates was enrolled in Harvard, moved to Albuquerque (where MITS was located), and co-founded Microsoft there.

Allen came up with the original name of Micro-Soft, a portmanteau of microcomputer and software. Interesting that the word portmanteau would come up when I was getting information for this post.  One of our fellow A to Z Bloggers has it as a theme this year.  Check it out.  Hyphenated in its early incarnations, on November 26, 1976 the company was registered under that name with the Secretary of State of New Mexico. The company’s first international office was founded on November 1, 1978, in Japan, entitled “ASCII Microsoft” (now called “Microsoft Japan”), and on November 29, 1979, the term, “Microsoft” was first used by Bill Gates.

On January 1, 1979, the company moved from Albuquerque to a new home in Bellevue, Washington, since it was hard to recruit top programmers to Albuquerque.

Microsoft staff, Albuquerque, Dec 7, 1978 Top: Steve Wood, Bob Wallace, Jim Lane Middle: Bob O'Rear, Bob Greenberg, Marc McDonald, Gordon Letwin Bottom: Bill Gates, Andrea Lewis, Marla Wood, Paul Allen Not pictured: Ric Weiland, Miriam Lubow Gates described this photo in 2009 as "that famous picture that provides indisputable proof that your average computer geek from the late 1970s was not exactly on the cutting edge of fashion."

Microsoft staff, Albuquerque, Dec 7, 1978 Top: Steve Wood, Bob Wallace, Jim Lane Middle: Bob O’Rear, Bob Greenberg, Marc McDonald, Gordon Letwin Bottom: Bill Gates, Andrea Lewis, Marla Wood, Paul Allen Not pictured: Ric Weiland, Miriam Lubow Gates described this photo in 2009 as “that famous picture that provides indisputable proof that your average computer geek from the late 1970s was not exactly on the cutting edge of fashion.”

The debate today is over whether you are a PC or a MAC (Apple Computers) (also founded in the 1970s).  Regardless of your choice, Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Microsoft had significant influences on our world and it all started in the 1970s.

All images in this article are in the public domain. For any YouTube clips embedded in my posts, I am not the uploader.
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3 responses

  1. rolandclarke says:

    Great post. I’m a PC user that dreams of owning a MAC.

    Like

    • I am PC for my work. I am a CPA and I don’t care for excel for MAC. For most else I love my MAC. I’ve drunk the proverbial cool-aid for Apple products (cell and tablet) 🙃

      Like

  2. artistpath says:

    The photos are priceless! I live in Microsoft country…we’ve come a long way. I’m excited to see what the future holds!

    Like