Bill Gates started his career in computers in 1975, when only big institutions could afford to run the kind of computer we might recognise today.
- He wrote a new version of BASIC, the programming language for computer hobbyists. It was for use on a kit computer called the Altair. He set up the company Micro-Soft, and started selling this version of BASIC.
- He went on to develop the operating system MS-DOS for use on the IBM PC. This was where his business studies at Harvard came in useful.
He had the vision to see the potential of computer technology for every-day individuals in the office and at home. This led him to negotiate a leasing arrangement with IBM rather than an outright sale of his operating system, which turned out to be hugely profitable.
- Windows took off in 1990 when Windows 3.1 was released. Click play button to watch a promotional video presented by a young Bill Gates. See also Windows evolution for a brief outline of each version from 1 to 10.
The triumph of the nerds
In 1996 Channel 4 broadcast this documentary series about the origins of the Personal Computer. Find it on the page: Have you seen?.
The series covers everything outlined above, and more. Here is the Wikipedia page about the series.
See also Wikipedia for more on Bill Gates.
The Altair 8800
A bit of background might help. The Altair kit computer cost $395 initially, if you were prepared to spend many hours soldering all the electronic components onto circuit boards.