Bill Gates' roots in the trashcans of history

Garbage in, garbage out, stick your hands in, rummage about...

It is interesting to note the high moral tone being taken by Microsoft in its castigation of Oracle's legal if somewhat dodgy intelligence gathering activities.* But surely Microsoft hasn't forgotten that Bill Gates himself, together with Paul Allen, has also used trash cans as a primary source of intelligence?

Gates even admitted this in an interview recorded in 1993 which was deposited in the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution (which coincidentally is a short walk from Judge Jackson's Court).

The occasion was when Gates picked up the Price Waterhouse Leadership Award for Lifetime Achievement. Video History interviewer David Allison asked Gates about the early days when he was still at school, but working part-time for the Computer Center Corporation (C-cubed) in Seattle.

Gates said: "I'd skip out on athletics and go down to this computer center. We were moving ahead very rapidly: Basic, FORTRAN, LISP, PDP-10 machine language, digging out the operating system listings from the trash and studying those."

The listings evidently included Basic for the PDP-10, but it was Allen who did the Assembler programming to simulate the Altair, while Gates, Monte Davidoff and later Allen worked on a Basic interpreter for the machine. Of course neither C-cubed nor DEC received any consideration for the use of the code filched from the waste bin. Some people might consider this disregard for the intellectual property rights in a rather different light from the young pioneers. ®

* In the interest of balance we wish to point out that Larry Ellison is a crazed megalomaniac. As well. - Ed

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