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end of big computers
Starting a business
work to create a program
new Intel microprocessor chip
interested in Intel
and Bill joined MITS
first BASIC version for the Altair
friend Paul knew a lot more about the machines than I did. I was more
interested in the programs. But I learnt from him. One day in 1972, when I was
sixteen and he was nineteen, he showed me something that he was reading. It was
about a company called Intel that had a new microprocessor chip.
microprocessor chip is the part of the computer that thinks. This new one
wasn't very smart, but we wanted to see if we could write a program for it. In
the end, we made a program for it, but we didn't make much money from it. The
next microprocessor from Intel came out in the spring of 1974. It was much
smarter than the earlier one. When we read about it, I told Paul that the days
of the big computers were finished.
it was another new idea that excited us more. In December of that year, we saw
a picture of the Altair 8800. The Altair was a microcomputer with the new Intel
microprocessor chip. When we saw that, we thought "Oh no! People are going
to write real programs for this chip!" I was sure of this, and I wanted to
be part of it.
took us five weeks of hard work, but in the end we did it. We had a program for
the Altair and we had something more. We had the world's first company that
wrote programs for microcomputers. In time we named it "Microsoft."
the Altair's published specifications, Gates and Allen created a simulator on a
DEC PDP-10 computer that allowed it to emulate the MITS machine. Working day
and night, they created the first version of MICROSOFT BASIC for the Altair.
a company isn't easy. Sometimes it means that you can’t do other things that
you like. I loved college. I liked having conversations and sharing ideas with
so many smart people. But I knew that I had to choose. That spring, Paul
decided to leave his job and I decided to leave college. I was nineteen years
the very beginning of 1975, Paul Allen joined MITS (Micro Instrumentation and
Telemetry Systems) as Director of Software, and I followed him later that year
to form an informal partnership called Micro-soft, complete with hyphen.