Software for the Masses

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Software for the Masses

Bill Gates and Paul Allen
Microsoft (MSFT)
Seattle, Wash.
Founded 1975

Back in 1968, a computer club meeting about BASIC programming at Seattle's private Lakeside School brought Gates and Allen together. The two students soon became obsessed with programming a mainframe of a local computer and quickly saw the future of micro-processing. However, it was an article in Popular Mechanics about personal computers that triggered their realization that writing and selling software was the new frontier. Fast forward to the early 1970s. Allen, who was three years older than Gates, went to work for Honeywell (HON) in Boston, and Gates enrolled at Harvard. In 1974, the pair devised a BASIC platform for the Altair 8800 in Gates' dorm room and sold it, earning Gates disciplinary charges from the university for running a business in his dorm. A year later, Gates (who dropped out of Harvard) and Allen formed Microsoft, which today is the world's largest software company. Three years ago, Gates donated $40 million to Lakeside for a new scholarship fund.