The Illustrated Story of Copyright

Here's Doug Phillips' letter about Bill Gates:

       I bought your recent book and I'm enjoying it very much. But I was intrigued by your description of Bill Gates, at page 86, as "the person who at age seventeen had developed the DOS operating system that ran the IBM computer...."

       Bill Gates was born in 1955. That means he turned 17 in 1972. Gates did not enter Harvard until 1973 (the same year I entered Princeton) and he did not form Microsoft until 1975. He co-wrote a BASIC interpreter for the MITS Altair 8800 that he saw on the cover of the January 1975 Popular Electronics (which I have -- the magazine, not the Altair), but that did not occur until he was 19.

       IBM did not introduce the IBM PC, for which Microsoft provided DOS, until 1981. (Time Magazine made the personal computer its "Man of the Year" for 1982.) In addition, I believe that Microsoft purchased DOS from a company called Seattle Computer Products and adapted the product to work on the IBM PC.

        I have to think, then, that whatever development work Bill Gates did on DOS for the IBM PC would have begun not when he was 17, but when he had reached the ripe age of 24 or 25.

Doug Phillips, Covington & Burling, Washington, D.C.

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