B2 Reading Gapped Text Exam 5
Microsoft is one of the most important computer companies in the world, if not the most important. Bill Gates, the man who created Basic, MSDOS, Windows and Flight Simulator, is its head and also the richest man in America, with a net worth of over 70 billion dollars.
His annual salary is a little over $300,000, which by American standards is ridiculously low for the head of a major company. He is extremely competitive, loves fast cars and poker, puts in 15-hour days and can't stand losing.
At school he was very good at maths and computers, but more importantly had a taste for business. Before the age of 16, he had started his own company, was paid to debug the local mainframe, and he also offered a data-processing service to local authorities. In 1975, a picture of the first PC appeared on the cover of PC magazine and Gates, then 19, contacted the manufacturer to offer his version of Basic for their 8080 microprocessor. He was ready to do business. Working night and day, Gates and a friend squeezed the language into 4K with enough space left over to run a programme.
The code he had written was ingenious but even so, time was so tight that they had to write a bootstrap loader on the flight to deliver the completed tape.
As is very common in the world of computers, his code was immediately pirated by competitors, and this taught him a lesson he would not forget. He became a very sharp businessman indeed, unwilling to give anyone a free ride and an example of the Gates technique is his relationship with IBM, who split with Microsoft to produce their own version of OS/2 to compete with Windows.
OS/2 needed to be Windows-compatible to stand any chance of survival, but as soon as IBM released their finished version of OS/2, Microsoft released Windows 3.1 and made other changes so that IBM's product was compatible only with last year's model.
This new generation of entrepreneurs are unlike their predecessors.
They may wear T-shirts and anoraks, eat pizzas and read sci-fi, but they know all they need to about business and success.
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