Bill Gates and The Guy Who Could Have Been Him (Part 4 of 10)

Do not miss out this great story, I recommend reading these first:

Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

 

Gates and Kildall had a lot of common. Both hailed from the Seattle area. They had even bumped into each other at a Seattle computer center years when Kildall was still a graduate student at the University of Washington and Gates was a high school hacker sneaking some computer time.

Both loved talking about software code as much as they enjoyed writing it. They also shared a passion for driving dangerously fast. When they weren’t talking software, they swapped stories about speed traps, comparing the size of their most recent speeding tickets.

While they have similarities, they have more differences as well. Kildall was older, a family man, and much more accomplished programmer. At heart he was academic, a computer scientist with a Ph.D. Though he was nominally the head of Digital Research, he disdained making business decisions and preferred spending his time on complicated programming tasks that most CEOs would leave to their employees.

Gates was the exact opposite. He was a businessman first and a programmer second. He started Microsoft while still being a student at Harvard, and then he dropped out before finishing because his interest is getting his business going.

At the age of 25, he was still living like a college student in a messy one-bedroom apartment.

Gates and Kildall shared a capacity for getting lost in the days-long bonus of obsessive programming, their motivations were completely different. Gates would never have spent a year building a microcomputer from scratch as Kildall did, merely out of intellectual curiosity.

Gates’ all-nighters were always driven by practical business objectives and deadlines, while Kildall had more of an artistic temperament. Some said that Kildall designed computer code the way Mozart composed symphonies.

 

Continue reading Part 5Part 6 and Part 7.

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