Bill Gates and Paul Allen

Lifetime Achievement

TWENTY YEARS AGO, A YOUNG HONEY well engineer living in Boston was browsing through the January issue of Popular Electronics when he noticed a story about the MITS Altair 8800, the first well-publicized personal computer.

He went to a high school friend, then attending Harvard, and suggested they port a version of the BASIC language that they had written in high school to this new machine.

The two men were Paul Allen and Bill Gates, and the rest, of course, is history. The company they created to sell that software was Microsoft, undoubtedly the most influential force in the history of personal computing.

Even when others were focusing on hardware, Gates and Allen had a vision of software as a force of crucial importance in the computer industry

and as a potentially huge business. Soon, the company was selling BASIC and other languages on many different platforms. In 1980, IBM hired Microsoft to produce PC-DOS, an OS that Microsoft resold as MS-DOS.

From there, Microsoft's successes have been legendary. It was one of the first companies to aggressively develop Macintosh software, giving it an entry into the design of products for environments with a graphical user interface. A]ong the way, the company broadened its line to include everything from operating systems to entertainment software.

Not everything was successful immediately, but Microsoft gained a deserved reputation as an extremely tough and aggressive company that would try and try again.

Perhaps its greatest success has been in moving the entire PC industry from the character-oriented world of DOS to the graphical world of Windows. which first shipped ten years ago. Despite limited initial success and competition from other graphical systems, Microsoft continued developing Windows. Its runaway success began with Windows 3.0 released in May 1990, and it has reached new heights in the Windows 95 juggernaut we saw this year.

Microsoft leveraged its successes into other areas as well, combining its Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access products into the awesomely successful Microsoft Office applications suite. It has also created a huge line of consumer titles.

Gates bas headed the company throughout its life, providing both business and technical leadership. Allen left the company in 1983 but has remained on the board of directors. Since then, he has founded or been a major investor in a variety of innovative and successful computer ventures, including Asymetrix Corp., c/net: the computer network, Interval Research Corp., and Starwave Corp. With their technical leadership and vision going back 20 years, Bill Gates and Paul Allen have made an immeasurable contribution to the PC industry.

Lundi, le 23 août 1999, La Presse  Gates a donné 15 milliards à sa fondation. Sa fortune est de 90 milliards de US$.


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Michel Laflamme