Watch Bill Gates in a 1994 Orientation Video for New Microsoft Employees
When you start a new job, you often get a glimpse into the history and culture of the company. Usually, however, this information does not come from one of the richest people on the planet.
In 1994, Microsoft made an orientation video for new hires starring co-founder Bill Gates, who was already fabulously wealthy at the age of 39. At the time, Gates was still CEO of Microsoft, and he was worth around $ 9.35 billion. , according to Forbes. Today that figure exceeds $ 136 billion.
In the approximately 15-minute video, which was restored and uploaded to YouTube by the Computer History Archives Project in November, Gates welcomes new Microsoft hires by recapping the company’s founding history and some of its signature moments – and even offering surprising praise. for rival tech giant Apple.
Perhaps most notably, it also presents Microsoft as a crucial part of the future of technology. “I think there is an absolutely amazing opportunity here, and I think it’s going to be very exciting,” Gates told his employees in the video.
Here are some of the best moments from the video:
Microsoft’s origin story
Microsoft’s founding story is well known, but hearing it straight from Gates is worth the price of the 90s music and sound effects in the video.
In the early 1970s, Gates and his co-founder Paul Allen, who attended the same Seattle-area high school, discussed computer software – even as Gates was studying pre-law at Harvard University. In the video, Gates says Allen predicted great technological advancements over the next several years, largely thanks to recent advancements in microprocessor technology.
These jumps, Allen suggested, could be “pretty rare, pretty dramatic,” Gates recalls. At one point, Gates says, he even asked Allen, “Are you serious?
It was. Then, in 1975, a now defunct Albuquerque, New Mexico company called MITS released one of the first commercially successful personal computers, the Altair 8800. Together, Gates and Allen developed a version. of the BASIC programming language for the Altair, prompting Gates to leave Harvard to continue the work.
At first, the pair took jobs at MITS. The following year, they formed a partnership which they called “Micro-Soft”. The rest is history.
A mouse “error”
In the video, Gates says that a now ubiquitous part of the personal computer experience took over a year to finally take hold.
The product? A PC-compatible computer mouse, which Microsoft released in 1983. The mouse has become a “very profitable” part of Microsoft’s business, Gates says, but “at first it was like maybe we had made a mistake. error”.
The company ordered an initial run of 50,000 units, but Gates notes that it took a whole year to sell its inventory. Eventually, he says, the mouse took hold as Microsoft “continued to evolve the design, becoming more and more stylish over time.”
“Today we sell several, several hundred thousand in a month,” he said in the 1994 video. A Microsoft spokesperson declined to share today’s sales figures, but said told CNBC Make It that the mouse “remains a major business for the company.”
Credit Apple for “a very, very important milestone”
Microsoft and Apple have a long and complicated history as collaborators and fierce rivals.
In the early 1980s, Microsoft was actually one of Apple’s most important software developers. Gates and his team created Microsoft software especially for newer Macs, including the first version of Microsoft Word.
In a 1996 documentary, Jobs called some of Microsoft’s early applications for Apple “terrible” and complained that Microsoft had “no taste.” But in the 1994 video for Microsoft’s new hires, Gates has nothing but nice things to say about the Macintosh computer, first released in 1984.
“The Macintosh was a very, very important milestone,” says Gates. “Not only because it established Apple as a key player to help define new ideas in the personal computer [space], but also because it inaugurated the graphical interface. “
It refers to the graphical user interface, or GUI, which allowed Macintosh computer screens to display icons and images instead of lines of text. The tech industry was initially resistant to the GUI, Gates says, but “Apple bet their company on it.”
Apple’s bet turned out to be a good one: Home computer users preferred the simplicity and aesthetics of clicking on icons and images. “That’s why we got involved early on in building applications for the Macintosh,” says Gates. “We thought they were right, and we are really betting our success on that as well.”
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