Bill Gates reminisces about Microsoft

June 27, 2008

Bill Gates bid an emotional farewell to Microsoft on Friday, the company he co-founded in 1975. Here are some of his quotes, filed by Reuters reporter Daisuke Wakabayashi, who was at the event at the software giant’s leafy Redmond, Washington, campus.

Albuquerque Group

Gates on starting Microsoft:

Microsoft is one of the few companies you can say it just started with a dream. A dream that software would be important. A dream that there would be a computer that was affordable on a personal level. That’s a dream that Paul Allen and I had, which at the time seemed very crazy.

Gates on IBM:

Our relationship with IBM was one of the defining things in this company. We were their partner. At some point, they chose not to have us quite as much of their partner. They went off with OS/2 and we were left with good old Windows. Sure enough, the David vs. Goliath story came out with the right ending.

Gates on growing the business:

I remember Steve (Ballmer) and I stayed up late at night wondering if any software company, whether it was Microsoft or anyone else, would ever get to a billion in sales. That is a big number!

I love that kind of thing where people are underestimating Microsoft. They don’t realize the vibrancy. Yes, we make mistakes and we know it, but we come back and learn from those things. A lot of our best work is the result of that.

One of the newspapers had an e-mail that I sent about how maybe Windows could have been better at something. And they said, ‘this is a shocking piece of e-mail. Shocking.’ And I said ‘What do you think I do all day?’ Sending e-mail like that IS my job.

Gates on leaving Microsoft:

For me, this will be a big change. For 33 years, I’ve essentially had the same job.

Some days, I’m so used to coming in to Microsoft. Even if I have the kids in the car and I am supposed to take them to school, I forget and if I start thinking about work a little bit, I start driving toward Microsoft. They say to me, ‘Dad, what are we going to do at Microsoft?’ So I get back on course.

I am sure there will some day next month where I start thinking about software and I will start driving here to Microsoft, go up to the fifth floor and walk down to my office and they will be remodeling it. In fact, they were wondering if I was leaving at 4 or 5 today, so they could get started on that.

(Photo of the “Albuquerque Group”, the original 11 members of Microsoft who worked at the company in Albuquerque, New Mexico before it relocated to Washington state. Dec. 7, 1978. Source:


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I doubt Bill will remember me. I waa at Harvard University’s summer session in 1976 or it was earlier when I was visiting and staying with my former Miami, Florida high school classmate, Skipper Virgin, a few years earlier. Anyway, I met Bill Gates at a Hastings Pudding Theatrical function and found him nice and polite. Even a bit shy, until you could engage him in some jokes and shenanigans. I guess it was his smile that I remember most, kind of infectious, when you could get him to kid around a bit. He went on to be successful and I am happy for his success.

I started my own very small company, in 1992, that salvaged the wood from the felled trees of Hurricane Andrew, (aka Hurricane Andrew Wood Products, Incorporated). (I am sort of the Forest Gump of that storm you might say, in real life.) It has taken me about 16 years and I think I am finally going to get the woodshop up and running early this fall. It has taken my life savings, and dozens of years to buy the specialized equipment I have needed from closed furniture plants to make my crafts and furniture prototypes.

I am learning disabled and it has been an uphill battle, but I think I might succeed at my long term dream of being the only small production craft and furniture company in the U.S. whose primary source of wood is from either hurricanes and recycled pallets. (I have some slabs to die for, let me tell you.) Wait till you see the items I hope to secure utility patents on! Anyway, I was the worst woodworker to ever attend the summer session at Harvard, but I am grateful to my old friend Skipper for letting me live on his living room couch for a few weeks while he was a student there.

I remember later seeing Bill at Comdex in 1980 or 1981 and am glad he succeeded in his dreams. Skipper went on to graduate from Harvard, go on to med school there, then later was asked to teach in the med school. Both Bill and Skip blazed new trails for us as role models. I dropped out of high school, but later went back, partly due to Skipper’s encouragement. Anyway thank you Skipper and Bill for holding us all to a higher standard by your own examples.

Last point. I also remember having lunch with a visiting
African-American teenager when I was at Harvard or when I stopped by for a visit to see Skipper. I remember sitting with him, because he was one of the few black students in the cafe at the time. It was nearing closing time in the cafeteria and we just sort of happened to share one of the last sets of tables that hadn’t been taken. He was younger than me, but his ability to focus on all his attention on what you were saying in conversation, I remember was noteworthy.

Years later, I encountered that same ability to really listen to what you had to say from a frequent visitor of my neighbor in Raleigh, North Carolina. That visitor at my neighbor’s was an attorney named John Edwards. The black teenager I had lunch with when I was visiting at Harvard was Barrack Obama. I am glad to see they have done well.

Now it is my turn to do that in life, after spending years getting this woodshop together. I have known many of this country’s most important woodworking craftsmen and women and now soon it will be my turn to succeed. Never under estimate the power of the acorn. From them the mighty oaks can grow!

Kindest Regards From,

Adam G. Thomson, III
Chief Broom Pusher and Owner
Hurricane Andrew Wood Products, Incorporated
3599 Pisgah Drive
Canton, North Carolina 28716

Posted by Adam G Thomson, III | Report as abusive

Thanks for allowing me to tell my earlier story.
Adam G. Thomson, III

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