I am very impressed with everything about the MVP summit. Never in my life have I been in attendance at an event with so much diversity. I've met people from Honduras, Peru, Germany, Lithouania, Russia, Japan, and just a half hour ago a group of Koreans had come over to hang out here in my hotel room and see a 30-year old piece of history I brought along. Let me explain more about that.
Over the weekend before the event my dad and I dove into the storage shed and dug up a momento we had used some 28 years ago -- the very first software product released by Microsoft (then called "Micro Soft"). That's right, MITS Altar BASIC 4K. We had gotten an Altair with 8K of RAM from a friend, Frank Housholder, who bought it when it first came out. After having the computer for three years, he got an amazingly well-paid job from an oil company in Saudi Arabia. Before moving out there he gave us the Altair plus a big box of 7400-series TTL parts (old-school logic chips). This gift was the thing that really kick-started my fascination with computers. We still have the Altair in storage, and haven't fired it up for a couple of decades.
So here at the first morning of the summit, I went into the keynote session having the manual and cassette tape for the software in-hand. I had heard that Bill Gates would be speaking, and also conduct a Q&A session with the audience. Unprecedented! And who knows, this may be his last summit since he's starting to devote much more time to philanthropy.
When the floor was opened for questions, I immediately hopped up to a microphone and waited my turn. I got a little nervous, which was probably good since adrenaline and pressure generally causes me to speak a little better. When it was my turn I described the origin of that copy of BASIC, and the impact it had on my life. Based on a suggestion from my friend Scott Cate I then read this section from the introduction to the manual, on page II:
If any immediate problems with MITS software are encountered, feel free to give us a call at (505) 265-7553. The Software Department is at Ext. 3; and the joint authors of the ALTAIR BASIC Interpreter, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Monte Davidoff, will be glad to assist you.
Everyone in the audience had a little chuckle. "I tried the number, but didn't get a response." (more laughter.) My question to Bill was simple: would he sign this copy of this historic software? Sure enough, he did, and also explained a little of the background behind that humble start to Microsoft.
A guy from Kuwait filmed the whole thing, and I'll post a video when I get a copy from him, probably tomorrow.
I was surprised to learn later in the day that the Seattle Post Intelligencer ran a story about the summit, and had a picture of me at the microphone:
The sessions today were great, and it was definitely a good time at the evening party. So much care and attention has been put into making this a stellar event. I wish everyone in IT could experience it.