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on January 29, 2000
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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on December 23, 2005
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. He did not invent any major new invention but he had the practical ability to take the product to market and make it work, make it better, and build a winning business. He hired great people and built a team that literally crushed the opposition including IBM and all foreign competitors in that area. It is only now two decades later that people are (seriously) starting to consider alternatives such as Linux, and these still have a lot of catch up to do.

Still a great book and a great yarn. A must buy 5 stars.
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on June 9, 2002
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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on July 21, 2009
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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on September 28, 2014
One of my preferred books. I usually write notes on my books as I read. Since this book is no longer in print (I bought it used, but in excellent condition), and it's on a theme on which I have a lot of interest (IT history), I didn't want to write on it at all. I did take notes but on separate blank cards.

The book itself is very well written. I don't recall any spot on which I got bored or that I felt the narrative slowed down. I had read before the Steve Jobs bio book by W. Isaacson. In a sense, this book is the equivalent for Bill Gates. Yup, if you ever wished there was a similar one of Gates, well surprise, there is one and it's this.

(Not that couldn't be another one since it covers Bill Gates birth and childhood, Microsoft beginnings and up to early 90's.)

One of the most interesting aspects of it its the details on which the author describes Gates personality; which most times its impressive.

Try and get it if you can, excellent book on a young, business aggressive and very smart Gates.
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on February 24, 2005
This book is an excellent biography of Gates and that little startup company called Microsoft. The book is well written, the story flows chronologically, detailing Gates' childhood in the 1960's, his fascination--bordering on obsession--with computers, and his relentless focus on starting Microsoft.

It is a fascinating story and full of parallels and insights for anyone starting a business in the technical field. Nobody is perfect, we all have flaws, including Gates, but he did almost everything right. He was focused, he had ambition, intelligence and he applied himself relentlessly. When it came time to take risk, he stepped up to the plate more than once, and when the pressure was on, he didn't buckle under.

His detractors say he got lucky. Well as a famous athlete once said, "the harder I practice, the luckier I get." That phrase is applicable to Gates.
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on February 8, 2001
This is the first "big" biography of Gates and is written by local reporters with a feel for Seattle and the indigenous industry which has been guaranteed a place in world history all because Bill Gates decided to jump in his Porsche one day and get out of Albuquerque as fast as he could drive. Home to the ancestral Seattle, with Mom-very-rich-family and dad respected-lawyer with connections all over the place: None of which would have been worth anything unless Bill was obsessed with software, starting with Lunar Lander, traffic light control programs, and then of course the big IBM success.
The intensity of Gates comes out clearly here. Wearing the smae shirt forever, paying some lady to do his laundry and pay his bills, ripping the radio out of his car so he can think more intently, sleeping under the desk. And lots of foul language. This strain of the book does not come out as clearly in later books, now that Gates is married, a major philanthropist, and under the gun of all of the politically connected Utah software Republicans he defeated in the business wars. The book has a funny scene where Gates refers to the 70 year old head of Novell as "Grandfather from Hell."
When Judge Stanley Sporkin read this book over a weekend (hoping to develop more obsessive behavior like his anti-hero Bill?), it caused him to try to quash the DOJ consent decree negotiated with Microsoft in the first antitrust case. Sporkin saw something evil in Microsoft and Gates as a result of reading this book. Microsoft got Sporkin's judicial spike of the consent decree reversed by another court, and got Sporkin dumped from the case (I seem to recall).
The childhood portions of the book are revealing. There are the usual recitations of how smart Bill was as a kid, but also a hint that he had to change schools because of adjustment problems. Prior to junior high.
The early years in N.M. are recounted with a sense of drama, and in that sense, reading this book prepares you to understand more completely the details in the movie "Pirates of Silicon Valley" (e.g., the scene in the diner where Bill successfully argues Paul Allen into a larger equity chunk for Bill, less for Paul).
Bill going "legal" early to protect the I.P. rights to Microsoft's software is also key to his later empire, and the authors cover it early, along with the court battles with the MIPS guy over rights to Bill and Paul's work.
My reaction to reading this right after it came out was to buy stock in MSFT, which Judge Sporkin may have also done, I guess. I must have skipped over the rabid anti-Microsoft stage of my development. ... Bill owns it and stole it from Patterson? So what, he bought it.
Gates seems to have the qualities of an inventor, a construction foreman, and a broker. This puts him in Henry Ford's league, and he seems to be a lot smarter, as well. Go Microsoft.
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on March 14, 2015
The greatest biography that I've ever read, I recommend it to anyone who loves hearing about a true hustle day-in and day-out, harder than you even dream about..literally.

It's almost discouraging to hear that he worked this hard because you know that you'll never be able to match it and you're not nearly as smart as him, but nevertheless it's amazing.
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on November 13, 2002
This book gives a fascinating insight about Microsoft and how the two buddies Gates & Allen transformed the way we live, learn and play today.
More important is, the book gives us a glimpse of an often misunderstood genius, Bill Gates himself. Read this book and you'll get the idea what makes him tick. Really, he is not as bad as some people would like us all to believe.
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on August 7, 2005
Although this book was written at a time when the authors found it necessary to explain what 'electronic mail, or e-mail' was, the insight into Bill Gates' life, methods and extraordinary success is timeless. It is hard to imagine much in this book is out of date, other than the estimate of Gates' wealth at the time ($4b). This is a well-written book and a fast read.
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