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Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire Paperback – June 1, 1993

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Editorial Reviews Review

Hard Drive charts Gates's missteps as well as his successes: the failure of OS/2 and the embarrassing delays in bringing Windows to the marketplace; the highly publicized split with IBM, which then forged an alliance with Apple to battle Microsoft; the public relations fallout over various exploits of Gates; and the investigations by the Federal Trade Commission. Wallace and Erickson also examine the combative, often abrasive side of Gates's personality that has alienated many of Microsoft's rivals and even employees, and led to his being labeled "The Silicon Bully" by Business Month Magazine. They report:

In the early 80's, Microsoft's Multiplan lost out to Lotus 1-2-3 in the marketplace. According to one Microsoft programmer, a few of the key people working on DOS 2.0 had a saying at the time that "DOS isn't done until Lotus won't run." They managed to code a few hidden bugs into DOS 2.0 that caused Lotus 1-2-3 to breakdown when it was loaded. "There were as few as three or four people who knew this was being done," the employee said. He felt the highly competitive Gates was the ringleader.

The first two female executives hired at Microsoft in 1985 were recruited to meet federal affirmative action guidelines so that the company could qualify for a lucrative Air Force contract. One source says,"They would say, 'Well, let's hire two women because we can pay them half as much as we will have to pay a man, and we can give them all this other crap work to do because they are women.' That's directly out of Bill's mouth...." Gates treated one of these executives so badly that she asked to be transferred away from him.

Microsoft managers used the company's e-mail system to secretly spy on employee work habits. Only those employees who worked weekends could collect bonuses. In time word got out and some employees logged into their e-mail on weekends with a modem from home so it would appear they had come in.

From Publishers Weekly

In a biting biography and computer-industry expose, two Seattle Post-Intelligencer journalists here relate in dramatic detail how a moody, computer-dazzled prep-school whiz kid, a Harvard dropout at age 19, formed his own company, now Microsoft Inc., with a few friends. They developed and marketed in aggressive style a series of personal-computer software applications and operating systems, the phenomenal sales of which by some accounts have made 37-year-old William H. Gates Jr. the richest person in America. Alternately cooperating and competing with industry giants Apple, Xerox and IBM, "Chairman Bill" worked 20-hour days in Levis and loafers and relaxed by driving his Mercedes at speeds up to 150 mph, as Microsoft set industry standards in desktop-computer languages and programs. Driven and hard-driving, Gates has engendered admiration, envy, imitation, complaints of unfairness and an FTC investigation. $60,000 ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 426 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; Reprint edition (June 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887306292
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887306297
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. K. Kelley on January 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
The authors have done a pretty good job at guessing what the future might hold, as we look back from several years after its publication. (As some gifted souls have so insightfully noted, the computer industry does actually change fairly rapidly, thus a book from the early-mid 1990s might be sort of dated in 2000.) What is impressive is how well it's held up over the years.
The analysis of Gates' psychology, the corporate culture of Microsoft and its evolution, and the various spasms of its early years are all right on the money, and particularly interesting in light of the current DOJ proceedings. The material about Ballmer will be of interest to anyone keeping current with his rise in management at the company. It also paints an irresistable picture of the IBM that once was certain it could tell us all how we would use computers.
Strongly recommended.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J.E.Robinson on December 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
Should I Buy This Book?

The story is starting to get a bit dated but the book still has 95% of the Gates story warts and all. He is one of the most compelling and admired and maybe feared business leaders today.

Unlike Jack Welch, another great leader and manager, he started from zero or near zero in a new field and (largely) owned the company. I remember seeing the personal computers for sale in the 70's - just pre Microsoft - that did not come with anything other than a very rudimentary software. He was one of the first people to recognize the dollar value of the software and to charge for its use in the hobby market. Since then he has dominated the market. Now there is a computer in virtually every office and home using his (expensive high margin) software. Now he has the resources to buy anything he wants, or to support any charity or university, or buy a sizeable portion of the stock in almost any company that he wishes. And of course he has no debt. He used no risky leverage or tricks. He took the software and generated billions of dollars in cash and securities on hand. It is quite the story.

This is a relatively short book and an easy read. Frankly it is a must read for anyone running their own business and or in the Tech field. Gates is the statistical anomaly who sits at the very pinnacle. He is perched even above Warren Buffet the financial guru who is at least 20 years older than Gates. But Gates was astute enough to buy DOS for $50,000. and then had the business smarts and drive to market and sell the product. He was a hands on manager working long hours and a technical leader. He was (is) as smart or smarter than anyone else in the field.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Charles on June 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
Bill Gates is by far the most successful man of our time and probably of all time. This book explains gates earlier life in depth. Who was Bill Gates before the billions? This is all explained in this book. Gates' incredibly driven personality was always present even in his earlier years. Gates is today undoubtedly the most feared man in the industry and thought of by many as the most powerful man in the world.
This book shows both sides of the man behind it all. Enemies and Allies alike are all shown in this book. He fought wars with Apple and IBM and had peace with people like his friend and partner in success Paul Allen and his mother. Is Gates really the "ruthless" billionaire as many consider him to be or a giving loving and gentle man as few people know? Well he's a little of both and the great insight that can be gained by many can be found here in this book.
I previously read a book about Bill Gates by Johanthan Gatlin and this book is far less indepth and much more for a quick read. HARD DRIVE is a book I highly recommend to those of you who are interested in knowing all about Gates. A little out date, this book was released before the release of Microsoft Windows 95 which in many ways brought Bill Gates up in power almost twice as much. At the time this book was written he was the richest in America. Presently he is the richest in the world. I reccomend going out and buying the sequal to this book "Overdrive" which I am about to do. VERY GOOD BOOK OVERALL. Go out and get your self a copy today.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jusuf Hariman on July 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book was written in 1992 and covers only Microsoft's first 15 or so years but these were the most interesting and the most instructive in terms of lessons for the wealth creator. There are now many Gates' biographies, but Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the MIcrosoft empire, written by two Seattle journalists still gives the best insights into the early years of Microsoft and what it was like to work under its CEO. Later, after Microsoft had relocated to Seattle to be nearer Gates' parents, he confessed to a fellow programmer his two ambitionsd; to design software that would make a computer easy enough for his mother to use and build a company bigger than his dad's law firm. Today, powering 90% of the world's PC's, Windows may have revolutionised PC, but marketing played a vital part in its establishment as the industry standard. Last but not least, what really set Gates apart was the boldness of his vision-"A computer on every desk, and Microsoft software in every computer"-and his natural brilliance as a businessman.
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