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Lot #3147
Bill Gates Early Typed Letter Signed (1978) - listing Apple, Atari, and RadioShack as companies that "sell our BASIC with their hardware"

Early letter from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, naming Apple, Atari, and RadioShack as companies that "sell our BASIC with their hardware"

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Early letter from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, naming Apple, Atari, and RadioShack as companies that "sell our BASIC with their hardware"

Early TLS signed “Bill,” one page, 8.5 x 11, vintage Microsoft letterhead, August 23, 1978. Letter to Wayne Green, publisher of Kilobaud Magazine in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in full: “The next time you are in this part of the country – please come visit! If you are coming to the Dallas show that might be a good chance. Everytime I read your newsletter or Kilobaud I remind myself to ask you out, so now I'm doing it. As you are probably aware Radio Shack, Apple, Commodore, OSI, MITS, Imsai, Pertec, National, ADDS, Ontel, Process Computer Systems, Exidy, Billings, General Electric, NCR, Atari, Intel Perkin-Elmer and many other companies sell our BASIC with their hardware. The most exciting work we're doing I can't write about in a letter, but it involves a company you often guess about in your columns. Also, I might be forced to tell you the inside story about APL. I really look forward to sitting down and talking. Let me know if there is a good time in the near future.” In fine condition.

Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen developed Altair BASIC in 1975 as the first high-level programming language available for the Altair 8800 microcomputer. Its creation proved groundbreaking during the dawn of the microcomputer revolution and represented Microsoft’s first official product. BASIC became the standard programming language across different computer systems, many of which Gates mentions in the above letter: Atari, Commodore, MITS, and Apple. This profusion of BASIC programming led to the development of an untold number of early software applications and games, a distinction that contributed mightily to the growth of the software industry.

Accompanied by a photocopy of Green’s reply from September 8th, which reads: “Thanks for writing. If there is any chance to come and visit, I will. It seems a bit remote right now…we're up to here in work. Between the growing magazines (73 is 320 pages this month), adding staff, getting Instant Software going right, trying to find some place to build a new plant so we will have some room…plus going to those damned shows…how do I get away? Once I have Instant Software going well enough so it is able to function without me I'll have a bit more time. This is going to take a while. Anyway…when it does get into gear I'd like to see if we can work out any mutually beneficial plans.

Getting hundreds of programs evaluated, checked out carefully, documented, made into masters, the documentation written, set in type, printed and bound, duplicates made, labels made for cassettes, blister packs designed and the machinery set up, high speed duplication equipment designed specially and installed, hiring all of the people to do this plus handle the orders and ship them…plus the promotion, advertising, bookkeeping, etc. Ugh! I'm looking at over 200 more people by next summer, plus about 25,000 more square feet minimum. Say, will YOU be at Dallas? I do have to get down there – stopping off in New York on the way for the Radio Shack show.

We're expanding the Kilobaud crew a bit too…and our book production staff. Also, I'm trying to locate the people and the equipment to handle two more magazines for the field. This old house is bulging right now…plus three other locations in Peterborough and one in Marlborough, one town over. The only mysteries in the field are TI, EDS and perhaps MGW. Guess I'll have to wait. I suspect EDS will be in direct competition with my software…oh well. TI may tear the hell out of RS and PET with a $300 system. May not. I think RS can change their price to $250 and not lose money on their system. It is going to be interesting.”

Wayne Green was a New Hampshire-based publisher, writer, and consultant (1922–2013) best remembered for his early, pioneering newsletters and magazines on amateur radios, audio equipment, and computers. Starting in 1975, Green built a small publishing empire in rural Peterborough, N. H., that included the magazines BYTE, Kilobaud (later called Microcomputing), 80-Micro (for enthusiasts of the TRS-80), inCider (for Apple II fans), Hot CoCo (TRS-80 Color Computers), and RUN (Commodore-64). He was one of the world's first microcomputer software distributors – his Instant Software company sold reader-submitted programs that could be loaded automatically from cassette tapes — and he predicted the rise of the ‘pico’ computer, better known as the laptop. He met and befriended high-tech elites such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, and, in 1983, sold out to IDG (Computerworld's parent company) for $16 million.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Steve Jobs and the Apple Computer Revolution
  • Dates: #690 - Ended March 21, 2024

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