How Bill Gates Redefined Application Development

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.