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BILL GATES IN HIS BOYHOOD(1)

2005-08-19 09:37

  BILL GATES IN HIS BOYHOOD

  As a child—and as an adult as well—Bill was untidy. It has been said that in order to counteract this. Mary drew up weekly clothing plans for him. On Mondays he might go to school in blue, on Tuesdays in green, on Wednesdays in brown, on Thursdays in black, and so on, Weekend meal schedules might also be planned in detail. Everything time, at work or during his leisure time.

  Dinner table discussions in the Gate's family home were always lively and educational. “It was a rich environment in which to learn, ” Bill remembered.

  Bill's contemporaries, even at the age, recognized that he was exceptional. Every year, he and his friends would go to summer camp. Bill especially liked swimming and other sports. One of his summer camp friends recalled, “He was never a nerd or a goof or the kind of kid you didn' t want your team. We all knew Bill was smarter than us. Even back then, when he was nine or ten years old, he talked like an adult and could express himself in ways that none of us understood.”

  Bill was also well ahead of his classmates in mathematics and science. He needed to go to a school that challenged him to Lakeside—an all-boys' school for exceptional students. It was Seattle's most exclusive school and was noted for its rigorous academic demands, a place where “even the dumb kids were smart.”

  Lakeside allowed students to pursue their own interests, to whatever extent they wished. The school prided itself on making conditions and facilities available that would enable all its students to reach their full potential. It was the ideal environment for someone like Bill Gates.

  In 1968, the school made a decision that would change thirteen-year-old Bill Gates's life—and that of many of others, too.

  Funds were raised, mainly by parents, that enabled the school to gain access to a computer—a Program Data processor(PDP)—through a teletype machine. Type in a few instructions on the teletype machine and a few seconds later the PDP would type back its response. Bill Gates was immediately hooked—so was his best friend at the time, Kent Evans, and another student, Paul Allen, who was two years older than Bill.

  Whenever they had free time, and sometimes when they didn't, they would dash over to the computer room to use the machine. The students became so single-minded that they soon overtook their teachers in knowledge about computing and got into a lot of trouble because of their obsession. They were neglecting their other studies—every piece of word was handed in late. Classes were cut. Computer time was also proving to be very expensive. Within months, the whole budget that had been set aside for the year had been used up.

  At fourteen, Bill was already writing short programs for the computer to perform. Early games programs such as Tic-Tac-Toe, or Noughts and Crosses, and Lunar Landing were written in what was to become Bill's second language, BASIC.

  One of the reasons Bill was so good at programming is because it is mathematical and logical. During his time at Lakeside, Bill scored a perfect eight hundred on a mathematics test. It was extremely important to him to get this grade-he had to take the test more than once in order to do it.

  If  Bill Gates was going to be good at something. It was essential to be the best.

  Bill's and Paul's fascination with computers and the business world meant that they read a great deal. Paul enjoyed magazines like Popular Electronics, Computer time was expensive and, because both boys were desperate to get more time and because Bill already had an insight into what they could achieve financially, the two of them decided to set themselves up as a company: The Lakeside Programmers Group. “Let's call the real world and try to sell something to it!” Bill announced.

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