Programmers At Work

May 20, 2008

Bill Gates 1986-2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — sml @ 6:18 am
Tags: , , , ,

Today I’ve posted the Bill Gates interview under the PAW–1986 interviews column at the right.

Let’s just say a little water has gone under the bridge since my interview in 1986. I’m sure many of you will enjoy reading this interview and noting all the quaint antiquities…like BASIC…the still amazing way code had to be squeezed into tiny amounts of memory, and also the predictions or lack thereof…it’s a revelation about how hard and yet easy it is to see the future…Gates could see that we were entering the “information” age and wanted to tackle it for the PC in a big way, via putting a multimedia multi-volume encyclopedia on CD ROM, which at the time was like imagining how to shovel the universe into a shoebox (I know because that’s the job I did for Microsoft at the time.) But today we look back on it as quaint with the way we’ve brought the universe to our fingertips via the internet. Little did we know at the time there was no need to shovel it into the pc shoebox. Instead we needed to imagine how we could shoot it and a dynamic web of other information around the planet into your offices on wires.

So enjoy this old and precious conversation with Bill because I sure did. He’s an amazing person to spend time with and I feel privileged to have worked with him back in those early days.


  1. Susan,

    If I remember correctly, Bill Gates is alluding to Encarta in this interview – which was in fact interactive and sold in bookstores 🙂 I have the early editions of Encarta and some other CDROM encyclopedias. All of them became less and less relevant starting with 1995 and 1996 (ten years after this interview), as the web (and other online services, such as Compuserve in those days) emerged as a platform for people networking and knowledge sharing. I am not sure if AOL was ever a knowledge-sharing platform (Compuserve was, with its excellent forums organized by topic and populated with numerous people in-the-know). Also, Microsoft’s impact on education with the pervasiveness of Windows platform cannot be overstated.

    Looking forward to more interviews, particularly the ones with Steve Wozniak and Jef Raskin. Just finished reading “Inside Steve’s Brain”, Leander Kahney’s book on Steve Jobs. It brought back memories of “Programmers at Work.”



    Comment by Samir Dobric — May 27, 2008 @ 12:13 am | Reply

  2. “When you know a program that well, you feel that nobody can look at the code and say, “There’s a better way to do this.””

    That’s one thing that will remain as Gates’ heritage: that nobody can look at the code. That is, nobody should 😉

    Comment by classless — June 28, 2008 @ 10:46 am | Reply

  3. Yes, it is true that the world has become a much smaller place due to the advent of internet technologies and the role Bill Gates and his company has played is enormous.

    Comment by Joy — February 7, 2009 @ 7:55 am | Reply

  4. It’s interesting to look at CDs as being a major technology, since it has almost come to the point where we don’t use them much anymore. Not to mention bluerays.

    Comment by Common Japanese words — April 11, 2009 @ 9:11 am | Reply

  5. I did not know that Apple and Microsoft worked together to create software.

    Comment by jon kapelka — October 9, 2011 @ 4:17 pm | Reply

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