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Where Are the Original PC Programmers Now? 124

Esther Schindler writes "In 1986, Susan Lammers did a series of interviews with 19 prominent programmers in a Microsoft Press book, Programmers at Work. These interviews give a unique view into the shared perceptions of accomplished programmers, the people who invented the tools you use today. In Programmers Who Defined The Technology Industry: Where Are They Now?, I tracked down the fate of these prominent developers — from Robert Carr (Framework) to Dan Bricklin (VisiCalc) to Toru Iwatani (author of Pac Man, I'm glad you asked). The article quotes the developers' 1986 views on programming, the business, and the future of computing. In two cases (Bricklin and Jonathan Sachs, author of Lotus 1-2-3) I spoke with them to learn if, and how, their views had changed. One meaty example: In 1986, Bill Gates said, on Microsoft's future: 'Even though there'll be more and more machines, our present thinking is that we won't have to increase the size of our development groups, because we'll simply be making programs that sell in larger quantities. We can get a very large amount of software revenue and still keep the company not dramatically larger than what we have today. That means we can know everybody and talk and share tools and maintain a high level of quality.' At the time, Microsoft had 160 programmers."
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Where Are the Original PC Programmers Now?

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  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @11:42AM (#33985782) Homepage

    That was from IBM, not MS. Look it up, really!

    I can find Bill Gates denying [wikiquote.org] he said it. I can find someone saying they don't believe him [imranontech.com]. I can even find someone saying that the quote is likely apocryphal [itbusiness.ca].

    It doesn't seem like anybody is actually reliably attributed to this quote. So, either it's a meme that's stuck, or Bill Gates is lying, or it's mis-attributed and nobody knows who said it.

    Anybody got something more definitive?

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @01:24PM (#33987398) Homepage

    "Honestly, why do all of you perpetuate this bullshit that Bill actually designed or wrote anything?"

    Look it up.

    Well, take this with a grain of salt, but this [zdnet.com] would indicate he's done some programming. He's believed to have written a BASIC interpreter

    I'm pretty sure he isn't credited with actually writing DOS. He didn't invent as much as he marketed. He's not some uber coder who actually created a lot of things.

    He even said as much [wordpress.com] in 1986:

    INTERVIEWER: You obviously have a lot of responsibilities as chief executive officer of Microsoft. Do you still program?

    GATES: No, I don’t. I still help design algorithms and basic approaches, and sometimes I look at code. But since I worked on the IBM PC BASIC and the Model 100, I haven’t had a chance to actually create a program myself.

    Bill Gates is a business man with a grounding in tech, and has been around while most of it was created so has a lot of perspective. But, I think his actual "hands on" coding is more limited than people think.

  • by Gramie2 ( 411713 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @02:30PM (#33988406)

    Yes, I'm pretty sure Jim Butterworth died a few years ago. I know someone in the C64 scene (it still exists!) and he spent a fair amount of time with Jim attending C64 conferences.

    Yes, I prized my Transactor magazines and ISA. So much great information, presented cleanly and with a desire to share.

  • by plcurechax ( 247883 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @03:26PM (#33989224) Homepage

    following up on the book "Programmers at Work" which was about Microsoft programmers.

    No, many of them never worked for Microsoft. The book was published by Microsoft Press as I remember.

    Though most if not all were microcomputer (i.e. Personal Computer aka PC) programmers. That's were the revolution was happening. Mini and mainframes had been around for a while by that time in computing's history.

    • Gary Kildall
    • Andy Hertzfeld
    • Jef Raskin
    • Toru Iwatani
    • C. Wayne Ratliff
    • Dan Bricklin
    • Scott Kim
    • ...

    All of these programmers never worked at Microsoft, and neither did I.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell