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Return of the '70s Microsoft Weirdos 338

theodp writes "On the eve of the company's move from Albuquerque to Seattle in 1978, a famous photo was taken (in a shopping mall no less) of the original Microsoft team, looking mighty sharp in their '70s outfits. Almost 30 years later, as Bill Gates prepares to depart from Microsoft, the group (looking older, but better) reconvened for a retake."
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Return of the '70s Microsoft Weirdos

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  • Epitome (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Mateo_LeFou ( 859634 )

    "Bob Greenberg (center of old photo, in red sweater), then a programmer and now a tech and financial consultant ... "

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by v1 ( 525388 )

      Comparing the old photo [] and the new photo [] I can't help but notice there are three women in center on the left, and two on the right. Other than that they seem to match up, though the distance in years does make it a little muddy.

      Does anyone have the list of names to go with the faces, for both?

      • Re:Epitome (Score:5, Informative)

        by Ucklak ( 755284 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @10:05AM (#23894031)


        Present for the reunion was office manager Miriam Lubow (center of new picture), who missed the original sitting due to a snowstorm. (When Lubow, now retired, first met Gates, she couldn't believe that disheveled kid was the president.) Absent for the reshoot was Bob Wallace (top center), who died in 2002; after leaving Microsoft in 1983, he pioneered the idea of shareware.

  • Thank you (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2008 @08:25AM (#23893397)

    For the photo that I need for when time travel is invented, so windows can be prevented from happening.

    • Re:Thank you (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mauzl ( 1312177 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @08:38AM (#23893469)
      Although your post is obviously a joke, Windows did a fantastic job of getting the PC into the lives of average people. This is something that Linux is only beginning to do, IMO.
      • Re:Thank you (Score:5, Insightful)

        by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @09:11AM (#23893641)

        Can we get rid of that horrific myth once and for all? If there had been no Windows, we would have had something else, and chances are it would have been much better.

        • Re:Thank you (Score:5, Insightful)

          by flnca ( 1022891 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @09:28AM (#23893749) Journal
          Like AmigaOS, for instance.
          • Or DavrOS. Obey! Obey!
            hmmmm... maybe that's too reminiscent of Vista.

        • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
          Probably... but maybe we'd be 5 years behind where we are now.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by DMalic ( 1118167 )
            I've never met someone who originally owned an Amiga who still believes Microsoft advanced computing more then they hurt it.
          • Re:Thank you (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @10:10AM (#23894071) Homepage

            We are 5 or even 10 years behind in computing thanks to MS. Think about it. Who wasn't in 32bit computing except MS customers back in 1995? Did you see the Netscape 4 demos which seriously drove them into panic that time? Now we are beginning to talk about Web services in freaking 2008 and people still suffer when they try it with IE.
            You better watch "computer chronicles" videos and think what would happen if MS wasn't in scene with their business tactics and backwards products.
            People were video editing on their Amigas back in 1991 for instance.

          • or 5 years ahead.

        • Re:Thank you (Score:5, Insightful)

          by DustCollector ( 903185 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @09:55AM (#23893947) Homepage

          Unix, born in the 1960s, had a 20 year head start over Microsoft, but Unix geeks just weren't interested in bringing a desktop to the masses in the same way Microsoft was.

          It's certainly true we could have had something better -- Amiga, Commodore, Apple, etc. -- but if any one of those alternatives succeeded like Microsoft, it would have most likely adopted the same evil practices Microsoft used, and we'd probably end up with a similarly crappy system. In the alternate universe, it could very well have been Commodore Doors.

          Fortunately, Linux and Mac are both making headway in the current time line.

          • Re:Thank you (Score:5, Insightful)

            by vidarh ( 309115 ) <> on Sunday June 22, 2008 @01:53PM (#23895719) Homepage Journal
            Nah - Commodore execs were too busy being incompetent and sabotaging Amiga on their own to be that evil.
        • Re:Thank you (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @10:04AM (#23894021) Homepage

          There was something else already, Windows and PC was the clone of it and it wasn't cheaper at all. Compare the original IBM to Apple prices. I think people can't think that the community chose that Text based horrible junk over Apple GUI and they think Apple came later to scene. It is the IBM who missed the personal computing revolution and dealt with MS in panic while MS didn't even have a single line of code in their hands.

          IBM didn't heroically open their platform, they were forced to it. There are still some old school small computer shops advertising or requiring 100% IBM compatible. People should look at the reasoning of that percentage number.

          Perhaps people shouldn't ignore the "Pirates of Silicon Valley" and watch/read it.

        • but back in those days they were who we are now. I am quite certain that at the time they were coming out with various versions of DOS and when Windows landed that they felt the same. They were up against the big hardware guys fighting for respect that they didn't have. It took them a long time to get there and in the process. In the long run they grew out of the need to go in a new direction as we are doing again. It is a never ending process and we should be glad for it. I am sure somewhere down the

      • Re:Thank you (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bertie ( 87778 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @09:34AM (#23893803)

        I'd say it held it back if anything.

        I personally got into 16-bit, GUI computing in 1987 when my parents gave in to ten-year-old me and spent what for them was a load of money on an Atari ST. Over the next couple of years a lot of other kids my age followed suit and bought STs or Amigas. We were introduced to Windows (Version 2, y'know) at school and it just seemed hopelessly antiquated. We couldn't get our heads round why anybody would buy a system running this crap when they could get about five STs for the same price, all of which would run rings round the PC clone.

        Of course, time passed and Atari, Commodore et al proved themselves much less proficient at running businesses than they were at designing computers, support waned and we found ourselves with no realistic option other than Windows (95 by this point). It still felt like a backward step and they'd had years to catch up.

        So I reckon that if things had worked out a bit differently and, say, Commodore had been as ruthless in business as Microsoft, we'd be far ahead of where we are now. Or at least we'd have got to where we are now years ago. Windows never put a computer into my house, and it did a good job of killing off the better, cheaper alternatives that myself and millions liked me had plumped for.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by hvm2hvm ( 1208954 )
          It was when marketing started to destroy the world. I know it's an exaggeration but not by far.
        • Re:Thank you (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @09:53AM (#23893931) Homepage

          I had 32bit Amiga 1200 back in 1992 or something. I turned it on, said "Wow it is fast", liked new workbench and there is that "32 bit" thing. Basically every program was already in 32bit.

          Amiga crashed very bad financially so I moved to x86/PC in Win 3.1/95 Schizophrenia age (my worst mistake, should be Apple).

          It was like surreal people were still in 16/32 bit age, being amazed to Windows 95. It is still same way to me, even running OS X Leopard. E.g. I had 64bit command line/linux back in 2003 with my first G5 1600 switched from PC at last, so it was 64bit processor, I could install 8 gig of RAM. Now imagine I switch back to Vista 64 bit and watch people saying how cool 64bit is after 5 years.

          We shouldn't have Atari ST or Amiga so we could really get impressed by these things :) It is still effecting, e.g. after the magnificent Word Processing tools in Amiga, I can't get so much excited about the Apple Pages 08. I had much of the functionality back in Amiga 1200.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hal2814 ( 725639 )

          I don't think it held anything back because those OSes you mentioned all had the same problem: they were built to sell hardware. There's no way you'd ever see an Amiga or Atari OS running on IBM (or compatible) hardware. IBM PC hardware wasn't that great but it was seen as "professional" hardware. If you'll remember correctly, there was already an IBM PC sales boom starting before Windows was really popular. DOS of all things was the OS installed on most of those PCs. The first reasonable GUI-heavy OS

      • Re:Thank you (Score:5, Insightful)

        by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @10:09AM (#23894061)
        Windows did a fantastic job of getting the PC into the lives of average people.

        Windows did a fantastic job of stifling innovation in the PC industry. Imagine how much more reliable and diverse computers would have been if Microsoft had not prevented innovation from occuring? Microsoft was more concerned about monopoly maintenance than innovation.

        • by Ilgaz ( 86384 )

          Now the Java platform is something you can really produce even great desktop software (even with Sun!), they are with .NET in scene playing games.

          Hitting it back in 2000s wasn't enough, now it needs another hit. They can't handle competition at all.

      • Re:Thank you (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hey! ( 33014 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @10:55AM (#23894371) Homepage Journal

        The 8088 processor was chosen by IBM for the IBM PC specifically to hold personal computing back. The processor series was a very poor choice for a desktop machine.

        The 6809 was a far superior chip, good enough that a reasonably convincing Unix clone was available in 1980, the year IBM decided to create the "IBM PC". That was bad from their perspectives, because it would strengthen Unix as a competitor in the midrange business. You can still get OS-9 for embedded use or set-top box use. The 6809 shared many architectural features and philosophy with the much more powerful 68000 (which also appeared in an eight bit external bus form in 1982). This would have eased the transition to 32 bit computing, which also would have been a bad thing.

        This, of course, is not Microsoft's fault. IBM didn't give a damn that the processor wasn't the best choice of a desktop OS, nor did they very much care about the fact that the "OS" they chose wasn't much more than a set of primitive libraries and provided no real hardware management at all. These were, in fact, desirable from their point of view. They wanted something quick, on which they could slap the IBM nameplate and make a lot of short term bucks selling expensive doorstops, along the way keeping Apple IIs out of businesses. They succeeded on all counts in the short term, which was all the term there was meant to be. The "IBM PC" would have been a technological dead end, it was in fact intended to be so, if it wasn't for the fact somebody ended up creating a killer app for all those doorstops: Lotus 1-2-3.

        Windows 3 (ca. 1990) was a tremendous achievement, given what they had to work with. But it was technically far behind what was available at the time. MacOS 6 had been available for a couple of years, and it not only had a superior GUI, it had built in support for sound and networking (which didn't come on most PCs). There was, of course, OS-9. Even Microsoft had a better OS than Windows 3 on top of DOS, namely XENIX.

        So it is true that Windows accelerated the usage of MS-DOS by the average user. But DOS itself, which was the underpinnings of Windows, held the user back. How many users had to learn the nuances of TSRs, extended memory vs. expanded memory etc? How many programers had to deal with non-productive technical details like thunks as they struggled to take advantage of 32 bit hardware with a sixteen bit operating system? How long was networking delayed by proprietary protocols shoehorned onto an operating system with no fundamental support for networking, when TCP/IP had already been existence for years?

        All in all, its a mixed bag. Windows made a really bad computer with really bad system software a lot more tolerable for users, and Microsoft deserves credit for this. But they don't deserve credit for personal computing. The whole "IBM PC" and "DOS" enterprise set computing back almost a decade.

      • by ATMD ( 986401 )


        And Linux is irrelevant in this argument. It wasn't even invented at the time.

      • Re:Thank you (Score:5, Informative)

        by multisync ( 218450 ) * on Sunday June 22, 2008 @12:33PM (#23895059) Journal

        Although your post is obviously a joke, Windows did a fantastic job of getting the PC into the lives of average people.

        No, that was the Internet.

        The spreadsheet was the "killer ap" that got PCs on to the desktops of accountants and managers. The Internet was the "killer ap" that finally got the PC in to the homes of people like our parents. Email, the web and now digital photos of grandchildren on Facebook and Flickr have pretty much made even a dial-up account a necessity for pretty much everyone. Homeless people use the Internet.

        And Bill Gates famously [] missed the potential of a free & open Internet until quite late in the game (I don't think Windows shipped with built-in support for TCP/IP until Windows 98, but correct me if I'm wrong).

    • Time travel (Score:5, Funny)

      by owlman17 ( 871857 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @09:09AM (#23893629)

      Dude, please send the second terminator. I am still typing this on Windows, so apparently, the mission failed.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      It is not so much Windows that should be stopped as Microsoft that should be stopped. So when you are there, take a copy of the GPL with you and convince the players to GPL the code that MS will steal and work on (Altair Basic)

      The date should be before February 3, 1976 and the company is the called Micro-Soft

      The reason: []

      That way we can sue them to hell and back when they come out with Win98 and put all that money to good use for OSS.

    • For the photo that I need for when time travel is invented, so windows can be prevented from happening.
      All we really have to do is send an Richard Stallman-shaped terminator back through time to 1978 to deal with the Microsoft people.
  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2008 @08:26AM (#23893401)

    which guy had a sex change?

  • by jamesh ( 87723 )

    When I counted the people in each photo I thought 'wow! what are the chances of 11 people alive in 1978 still being alive now?'. Having read the article I find that there were actually 12 people supposed to be at the shoot but one was absent, and one had passed away in the intervening 30 years so it's actually 11/12 people are still alive 30 years later, but still, not a bad effort!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mutende ( 13564 )
      Come on. The average age seems to be less than 30 years on the 1978, hence the average would be less than 60 today. I'd say the chances that all the people still being alive are pretty good. Cheers.
      • Re:11/12 (Score:4, Funny)

        by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @08:37AM (#23893461)

        well working making a new company having it grow to such a large level tends to put extra age on some people. Heck look at the guy in the middle in the before and after pic. Before he was a young guy and the other picture he is a older lady, that looks more like a traditional grandmother image.

  • through the early years of microsoft gonna be in the picture too ?
  • The BBC has some footage of the new photo being take on the iplayer []

    Its part of a documentary about bill gates for the money programme. Bit dumbed down for non geek audiences but interesting none the less if only to laugh at all the 70's gates footage and Ballmers big shiney head. Oh and I cant find where but at some point bill gates jumps over a chair... there has to be some jokes in there!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2008 @08:37AM (#23893459)

    The 70s photo is of of a bright eyed bushy tailed group ready to take on the world. It tells a story, smacks of potential and is a slice of history.

    The current photo is a happy snap without a story. It begs the question "Why?" It adds an ending to the 1970s photo that would have best been left unwritten, allowing each viewer of the 1970's photo to make their own judgement of history. The photo is like a cliched ending to a stereotypical Hollywood morality tale.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      The current photo is a happy snap without a story. It begs the question "Why?"

      The only question that comes to mind when looking at this before-after photo exercise is : is it better to be bright, young and wearing atrocious 70s clothes, or be a fat middle-aged ex-computer wizz-kid ?

    • by hcdejong ( 561314 ) <hobbes&xmsnet,nl> on Sunday June 22, 2008 @09:50AM (#23893907)

      It adds an ending to the 1970s photo that would have best been left unwritten, allowing each viewer of the 1970's photo to make their own judgement of history.
      Rubbish. History has been written, photo or no photo. The facts of the past 38 years haven't been altered by taking this photo in any way, nor will this photo change anyone's judgement of history.

      You can argue that the photo's pointless, but suggesting that people would be better served by not having this information is ridiculous. This isn't some pretentious open-ended novel we're talking about.

  • My IT Dept (Score:3, Funny)

    by Twide ( 1142927 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @08:39AM (#23893473)
    That's odd.. my very own IT department looks much more like that 70's photo than the current one..
    • In other words, you're working in an aspiring, upstart, bring-on-the-world IT department rather than a bureaucratic, overbloated and overfed-satisfied IT department.

      I wouldn't consider that's a bad thing.

      • I thought it meant he's working for shit money because clearly none of his coworkers can afford decent clothing.

        • Decent clothing covers the body and hold you warm in cold weather.

          Fancy clothing contains a wearable computer.

          You ARE aware that we're talking about geeks, yes? :)

  • by ^Case^ ( 135042 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @08:48AM (#23893521)

    This picture got me thinking.

    For all the things people dislike about Microsoft, even the stuff people sees as evil one should still acknowledge the contribution made by Bill Gates and Microsoft to the world as it is today. I am by no means a fan of Microsoft, yet had it not been for the visions of Bill Gates I sincerely doubt that computers would have gained the same traction in society as they have today.

    I often seem to forget this when shouting my mouth off about how bad Microsofts software is or how evil Microsoft is. I will try to remember this the next time I get into a "how I hate Microsoft" frenzy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Nobody doubts Bill Gates' vision helped bring computers to the masses a great deal, nor that OS and PC uniformising, sad as it is, is what brought down the cost of computing. The beef most people have with Microsoft is (1) how they got there, and (2) software quality : they copied, bought, monopolized, bribed and ransomed their way to the top, and they couldn't come up with one truly good software product if they lives depended on it.

      Other than that, they're great guys.

      • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @01:14PM (#23895397)

        Nobody doubts Bill Gates' vision helped bring computers to the masses a great deal...
        If Bill Gates had been the only one trying or had an insightful viewpoint I might agree with you. He was merely the most successful financially, NOT in my opinion the most visionary or even particularly helpful most of the time. Compaq cloning the original PC BIOS had a lot more to do with bringing computers to the masses than Microsoft. Mitch Kapor and Lotus 1-2-3 was the killer app that really got the PC off the ground. Microsoft was merely one of many companies involved with making the IBM compatible PC the most dominant platform. Bill Gates is to my mind the poster child for the value of network effects [].

        Bill Gates vision? You mean his business model? Nothing visionary or new there. He was selling an operating system product that was included with each PC so OF COURSE he wanted "a computer on every desk". So would you if you were selling a product with zero marginal cost. He just was lucky enough to get on the right horse with one of the two most important products on the PC (along with Intel's CPUs). It wasn't an especially good product even by the standards of the day. If it wasn't him it would have been someone else - have no doubt of that. Microsoft wasn't even in the operating system business relatively late in the game but it turned out to be a cash cow that put them where they are today.

        Vision? No I'm not convinced Bill Gates' "vision" helped accelerate adoption of PCs. You can make a reasonable (though hypothetical) argument that his company's crappy technology and operating system monopoly held adoption of computers by the masses back by several years. Don't get me wrong, there are many things he deserves credit for - both good and bad - but his vision isn't among them.

    • by GrahamCox ( 741991 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @09:09AM (#23893621) Homepage
      If Microsoft hadn't been the ones, someone else, or more likely several someone elses, would have. And frankly, chances are good that the state of computing in general would be ahead of where we are without Microsoft, because their monopolistic approach has stifled innovation and competition.

      In the early 80s there were plenty of smaller players in the marketplace all with interesting products and different ideas. A more natural outgrowth of that which maintained that balance would have been much healthier. And while that probably would have led to a period of incompatibility and lack of standards, the lack of strong defacto standards may well have created a push for more industry standards earlier. By now many of those things that are still needed (standards for document, and multimedia interchange) would have long been settled.

      For all the advantages that computers confer on society, don't forget the huge losses in both time and money that the poor quality of Windows and its apps have caused.
      • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
        Apparently none of those other companies had a CEO with the business sense to take them towards the top. You're talking about a time when engineers were just engineers and not meant to be personable at the same time. I doubt most of those companies had a business minded person running the show.

        Bill Gates had a business mind AND he could program. That is why Microsoft came out on top.
        • by samkass ( 174571 )

          Bill Gates had a business mind AND he could program. That is why Microsoft came out on top.

          No, not really. Bill Gates had a business mind AND a ruthlessness, and was in the software industry at the right time with rich parents. That's why Microsoft came out on top. Bill Gates' ability to program (such as it was) had virtually no effect on Microsoft's success that I can see.

          • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
            Um... let's see.. a CEO who understands the business or a CEO that has no idea about the business...

            Can you see how his ability to program is helpful now?
    • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @09:24AM (#23893723) Homepage

      yet had it not been for the visions of Bill Gates I sincerely doubt that computers would have gained the same traction in society as they have today.

      Ridiculous. Computers gained the traction they did in society because they greatly increased productivity, and we'd already developed the technology (the silicon chip) to make them cheaply. Bill Gates just was able to capitalize on those two circumstances.

      If Gates hadn't have done it, someone else would have. Jobs and Apple? IBM? Hell, maybe even Commodore.

      The path taken would have been different for sure, but the entry of computers into society at the level they exist was invevidible. Maybe cross-platform applications would have become far more prevalent than they are now without Gates and Company trying to stifle any such products, and the OS would become largely irrelevant. Really, the OS IS irrelevant to the end-user. The only thing that provides any value are the applications.

  • THE GOGGLES (Score:3, Funny)

    by dwalsh ( 87765 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @09:10AM (#23893633)


  • by tobiasly ( 524456 ) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @09:25AM (#23893735) Homepage
    They were also gonna go back and recapture that famous 1983 photo of Gates laying across the desk [] all sultry-like, but he broke a hip trying to strike his pose...
    • They were also gonna go back and recapture that famous 1983 photo of Gates laying across the desk all sultry-like, but he broke a hip trying to strike his pose...

      My eyes! The goggles do nothing!

    • So that's how Microsoft won the OS monopoly...
  • It looks like media, especially the ones known to be very close to MSFT started re-polishing BillG. This happens after someone took his job joked with companies prestige with 40+ billion dollars in hand.
    Lets watch... Especially check CNET lately, you will figure what I mean.

  • Skimming the article, I noticed that a lot of the original cast quitted. Now, what could possibly make a "first day" employee quit at the biggest software company in the world? Usually, such people tend to be up in the lofty top floor offices with paychecks large enough to use as a convenient blanket at night.

    How the hell do working conditions have to be to quit that?

    • They didn't exactly "quit"; "cashed out" would be a more appropriate description. They were all early investors in Microsoft stock; basically every single person in that photo made a metric assload of money from the stock alone. None of them ever has to work for a living, ever again.
  • Never forget (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ...that for the better part of 2 decades you cannot walk into a retail store to get a Window-less PC
    ...that MS choked the life out of Netscape, even when IE was free on every desktop
    ...that their embrace and extend diluted the OLPC's goals (to me this makes the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation a mere cover not unlike crocodile tears)
    ...that a generation of users think CTL-ALT-DEL can reset everything from PCs to other appliances
    ...that yes, some of the more promising startup technologies that reflected

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault