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Programming Hardware

Bill Gates Owes His Career To Steven Spielberg's Dad; You May, Too 171

theodp writes: On the 51st birthday of the BASIC programing language, GE Reports decided it was finally time to give-credit-where-credit-was-long-overdue, reporting that Arnold Spielberg, the 98-year-old father of Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, helped revolutionize computing when he designed the GE-225 mainframe computer. The machine allowed a team of Dartmouth University students and researchers to develop BASIC, which quickly spread and ushered in the era of personal computers. BASIC helped kickstart many computing careers, include those of Bill Gates and Paul Allen, as well as Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs.
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Bill Gates Owes His Career To Steven Spielberg's Dad; You May, Too

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  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday May 03, 2015 @09:00AM (#49604969) Homepage Journal

    It's well-documented that Billy Gates' success is largely due to having rich and well-connected parents.

    • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Sunday May 03, 2015 @09:39AM (#49605093)
      Lots of people have rich and well connected parents. There's only one Microsoft.
    • by Livius ( 318358 )

      That's unfair - Gates was also very lucky.

      And, like it or not, Gates did actually have a lot of talent at what he did. His problem was that all he knew were personal computers - personal as in standalone and non-networked.

      • like it or not, Gates did actually have a lot of talent at what he did.

        You mean he's a natural crook?

    • It's well-documented that Billy Gates' success is largely due to having rich and well-connected parents.

      Gates was selling microcomputer BASIC to the Fortune 500 in 1975. MBASIC was the first product for the micro to reach the top tier in software sales for all computer platforms.

      It took Microsoft less than five years to develop a full suite of mature and highly regarded programming languages for CP/M. The gold standard for operating systems in the eight-bit era.

      In the late seventies, Microsoft was superbly positioned for a move into operating systems and had licensed UNIX from AT&T.

      In the right hands,

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Cough, cough, IBM did the work, M$ just ran off with the benefits due to a very, very shonky contract. IBM could have still wiped M$ out if they had not been stupidly greedy when they released their own much better OS. Lotus blew it by not reducing prices to compete, same with Word Perfect. Xerox also gave away ideas for free. So rather than M$ success it was others failures. So luck and yeah corruption with regard to corporate lawyers had a lot to do with.

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          Cough, cough, IBM did the work, M$ just ran off with the benefits due to a very, very shonky contract.

          At the time, the IBM PC project was a lightly funded "get it out there quick" project. This was IBM using an off-the-shelf processor and common every day parts to make their PC, after all. This WAS IBM, and generally NIH was verboten. But IBM needed a PC quick and cheap.

          The only bit that was truly IBM's was the BIOS, and IBM figured that since DOS was tied heavily to the BIOS that no one would clone it, so

    • Usually, when you say something is "well documented", you provide some evedence of those documents. I'm not doubting it's true, but I've never seen anybody produce a reliable souce of information that says it's true.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 03, 2015 @09:01AM (#49604971)

    Where the fuck does this sort of chaining end?

    Spielberg's father would never have been able to design the mainframe without the food grown by the farmers who grew the food that he ate.

    The farmers would have never been able to grow the food in their fields had these fields not been cleared of trees by earlier farmers.

    These earlier farmers would never have ended up in America had it not been for their pilgrim ancestors who came over a century earlier.

    These pilgrims would not have come over to North America had it not been for the persecution they faced from the medieval Catholic Church.

    The Catholic Church would not have existed if it had not been for a Palestinian man named Jesus getting nailed to a cross by Romans.

    The Romans wouldn't have been in Palestine had it not been for Clementine IV and his urge to expand the Roman Empire.

    Clementine IV only became emperor of the Roman Empire because Cladius II was assassinated by angry Carthaginians.

    Carthage only exists because proto-humans from sub-Saharan Africa migrated to the edge of the fertile shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

    So by this line of thinking, Microsoft and Apple are both owe their existence to half-apes who crawled out of the jungles of Africa some 1.8 million years ago.

    • So by this line of thinking, Microsoft and Apple are both owe their existence to half-apes who crawled out of the jungles of Africa some 1.8 million years ago.

      That explains quite a lot.

      P.S. Over a dozen posts and nothing about systemd?

    • by itzly ( 3699663 )

      Microsoft and Apple are both owe their existence to half-apes

      So, we came full circle ?

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      There actually is a point to that. Very wealthy people like to perpetuate the myth that they did everything with their own two hands from nothing but dirt, but there is no truth to it. Behind each and every one stand a rather large number of people who did a lot more for a lot less reward.

    • So by this line of thinking, Microsoft and Apple are both owe their existence to half-apes who crawled out of the jungles of Africa some 1.8 million years ago.

      It is quite interesting you stop at that point, with misinformation to boot. Homo sapiens are full apes, nothing half about us. And the chain did not stop (or start) 1.8 million years ago. Making stone tools 2 million years ago, bipedalism may be four million years ago, primate line specializing in fruit eating 30 million years ago, mammals branching off 210 million years ago ... We might all everything to the Big bang sparked by Lord Vishnu at the end of the previous universe 14 billion years ago. But look

  • Thank you! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by antiperimetaparalogo ( 4091871 ) on Sunday May 03, 2015 @09:32AM (#49605059)

    BASIC was the language i learned how to program (every basic thing someone needs to know about programming, BASIC had it) - it was pre-installed to the R.O.M. of my Amstrad CPC 6128 (i love you dear old friend...) and ready to use - really that simple, start the machine and... type:

    • 10 print "Bill Gates is a good person - haters gonna hate..."
    • 20 goto 10
  • Basic was so bad, I learned assembler. And then PASCAL, and C, and many more. As examples of really bad technology go, BASIC is a true gem!

    • First example the excellence of a product has nothing to do with business success.
      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        I completely agree. Customers are stupid, and those that rip them off the best make the most money. Microsoft and Apple are excellent examples of that.

        • Programmers are stupid too, so if they can get away with a dumbed-down programming language like BASIC, that's their choice.
          • by Creepy ( 93888 )

            Woz felt he needed a high level language on his computer, as well as one that could be used to write and play games. The 4k minimum memory on the Apple I and Apple ][ were so the computer could run them in BASIC, even though that made them "100-1000x slower." Woz wrote his own BASIC (based on HP BASIC) from scratch with no knowledge about how to write a compiler, though he did borrow some school papers from his friend Allen Baum. He felt FORTRAN was for engineers and chose BASIC because he wanted regular pe

    • by plopez ( 54068 )

      It was a teaching language; it resembles assembly, Fortran, and COBOL; pushed into production and was very harmful; http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?BasicCo... [c2.com]

      But of course since we learn nothing in IT and software development we had to do it again; http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/re... [pbm.com] . It was a teaching language for the love of Mike.

      Probably because larval PHBs had only one computing class in college and so it was what they dictated when placed in a decision making position over IT and programming departments. Footnot

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        A good macro-assembler allows far, far better style and structure than classical BASIC. As to Python, it can be used as a teaching language, but the instructor must really know what he/she is doing. If so, you can teach imperative, functional (with limits) and OO programming with Python, and you can make sure that people understand that static typing is only a crutch and must not be relied on. And then you can branch out into writing modules in C and reinforce how OO actually works as Python uses OO C code

    • Basic was so bad, I learned assembler. And then PASCAL, and C, and many more.

      (Pedant point: 'BASIC and Pascal' not 'Basic and PASCAL' - only one of them is an acronym).

      Except that BASIC was an interpreted language that would fit into an 8K ROM with room to spare for a rudimentary OS, and happily run on a microcomputer with 4K of RAM and no disc drive. This was when a floppy disc drive and controller cost twice as much as the original computer. Try using a compiled language without a twin disc drive (possible, but no fun). Telling someone that they should be using Pascal on the

  • to his father's millions and his mom's seat on the IBM board of directors, but yeah, I guess I'm splitting hairs.
    • she never had a seat on the IBM board, it was the united way board, which the IBM CEO at the time was also a part of. Nit picking I know.
  • ... BASIC was the Esperanto of computer languages. Today, BASIC is the Esperanto of computer languages.
  • Oh Puh-lease! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lophophore ( 4087 ) on Sunday May 03, 2015 @04:05PM (#49607023) Homepage

    If it had not been a GE machine at Dartmouth, it would have been something else that Kemeny and Kurtz wrote BASIC on.

    What utter claptrap. Ridiculous.

  • Were it not for the janitor removing the old papers from his garbage can, his cube/office would have been inundated shortly, causing the whole project to fail. I guess we should credit that janitor with creating a computer revolution, too.

    Seriously. The guy was one engineer on a computer system and not part of the BASIC team. How the HELL does anyone conclude from that that we "owe him" credit for anything except participating in the design of an obsolete piece of hardware?

There is hardly a thing in the world that some man can not make a little worse and sell a little cheaper.

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