How Bill Gates Redefined Application Development

 
 
By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2008-06-24 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Gates drove Microsoft's focus toward developer tools and application foundations in a way that tracked the evolving nature of the developer community.

When Bill Gates first became interested in computers, being a user of a small computer meant being a hobbyist programmer-not a gamer, not a video producer, not a social networker. It's therefore no surprise that Gates drove Microsoft's focus toward developer tools and application foundations in a way that tracked the evolving nature of the developer community.

  • When anyone buying a PC was at least somewhat interested in programming, typing BASICA at the DOS prompt opened the door to an out-of-the-box ability for the machine to learn and to follow new instructions.

  • When "power users" became important to the adoption and spread of PCs as workplace tools, mechanisms such as DOS batch files and command shells were there to pave the way toward building more automated environments.

  • When graphical interaction moved beyond the novelty of the Macintosh-handicapped in its early years by costly and quirky development tools-to become the expected norm for mainstream applications, Microsoft's Visual Basic was an enormous leap in the ease of designing an interface and populating it with application behavior.

As a major side effect, though, VB arguably warped a generation of budding programming talent in the process-and thereon hangs a tale.



 
 
 
 
Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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