In 1992 I hooked up with a small company called Microsoft. I had seen a demonstration at the US Army Engineer school of a program called ‘Microsoft Windows’. It kept crashing but it’s promise was immediately evident and compelling.
I had helped implement the first wave of computers to all the writers in the technical manual part of the Army Engineer school. We went from 21 people and no computers to 7 people and 7 computers. That year we produced more new manuals than the combined three years that proceeded the change.
But the US Army was downsizing so I took a sizable lump sum retirements and moved back to Seattle. My short list of companies to interview with was lead by Microsoft. A week later I was interviewing for Microsoft and week after that I started as a contractor. My hobby as a computer geek was now my job.
Gates was the man. He had the vision and many of us felt that the company was going places. I read anything I could find on BillG as he was known here. He is a month younger than me and loved games. I felt a kinship with him.
Now he has moved on to the next big project, philanthropy. Oh, he’ll still have an office on the Microsoft campus, but the tide is changing. His legacy will live on and be witnessed and not just by the free sodas, late night discussions, and aggressive pursuit of excellence. His legacy will be in implementing his passion by hiring the best and the brightest and selecting products that make life easier, more enriched, and accessible.
I’ve often said that Bill reminds me of much that I have heard about Thomas Edison. Mr. Edison paid his employees very well too so that they could use the things that they invented. Not every bit of research ended up creating a killer product. But a company learns from investigating the diversity of new ideas using smarts, passion, and hard work.
Here’s yet another tip of the hat to our founder, Bill Gates.