Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bye Bye Bill

The Author has the dubious distinction of having moved in some of the same, large circles as William Henry Gates III in the early days of the PC revolution. When the industry was mostly pony-tails and Birkenstocks. While he was busy building Microsoft from a down and dirty operating system he purchased from Seattle Micro, I was busy being a cube-rat in the marketing departments of a series of hardware and sofware companies. Bill was very successful and got way rich, as we all know. And though modestly successful in his endeavors, The Author never could amass the fortune that Gates managed (Damn, not even close).

I remember Bill in pink polo's and on occasion in standard-issue geek suits. I generally ran across his eminence at private parties and early Spencer Katt fests around COMDEX. Of course, he often could be seen stalking the halls of Network World, Interop and other niche trade shows during the empire building segment of the cycle.

I also remember Bill holding forth, as was his wont, while rocking slowly back-and-forth from the waist up. He was mesmerizing, really. The man always had vision, and he was always excited to share it. He also benefited from a good deal of blind luck and serendipity. It is what it is, and Pop Impulse readers know that The Author was actually paid for a few years to run around the giant Microsoft's legs constantly kicking at the knees and ankles. It was a job I relished, and excelled at. After all, who among us can't remember cursing the blue screen of death and Microsoft's pension for Beta-testing its product with release 1.0.

Bill's departure from the day-to-day realities of Microsoft deserve note, as an era has certainly passed. Now he can devote himself to a tireless pursuit of philanthropy. An enviable, and honorable role for this giant of industry. And he will be viewed much like a Rockefeller, Carnegie, Mellon or Huntington after all is said and done. Like all of the above-mentioned figures, he wasn't above stamping out all perceived competition with ruthless abandon. I should know, about half of my employers during the 80s and 90s fell prey to operating system creep and the monopolistic practices of Microsoft. I often find myself wondering what computing would look like today if Quarterdeck's fine open, cross-platform windowing system, DESQview/X had won the war.

No comments: