The Collector's Edition of Fire in the Valley comes with a CD-ROM that has Frieberger and Swaine interview sound bites with some of the superstars of the digital age. Here are a few sample transcripts.
Bill Gates at the World Altair Computer Convention, 1976.
Bill Gates on writing and selling Microsoft Basic:
Roberts has this bankrupt company, makes the computer, crazy idea, they project they'll sell 3000, they get the orders for 10,000. So we call them up in January and say -- well, we had a fairly aggressive posture, we said, "We have a Basic, do you want it?" And he said, "Oh sure, sure, a lot of people call me up and tell me they have stuff. Why don't you come down and show it to us?" We say, "OK, sure, fine, in two or three weeks we'll come down and show it to you." We get the instruction manuals, because we never had the specific one. Paul writes a simulator in macroassembler, I write the Basic. Three weeks I call the guys up. It was a subset of our Basic. It was essentially the 4K Basic, but it was quite an effort and a lot of fun to go back into that clear goal, clear way of measuring success mode and just work. I stayed up the whole time, virtually. And enjoyed it a great deal. So we wrote the thing and then we called up Roberts and asked, "Hey, how do you read characters in and out of this thing?" He said, "You'd better talk to Yates." So Yates gets on the phone and he says, "You really want to know that, huh? You're the first to ask. Maybe you guys really have something." Because everybody was promising these guys software. It's so easy to do.
Paul Allen and Bill Gates surrounded by personal computers on October 19, 1981, shortly after signing a contract with IBM to write software for the IBM PC
Bill Gates on Jobs and Allen:
People tell you about their great vision. I honestly say that the only guy I've ever met -- well, I've met two guys. Paul Allen has some vision and Steve Jobs has some vision.
Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in Job's garage, ca. 1976
Steve Jobs on starting Apple:
So we found every moment of our spare time taken up by helping our friends wire these boards up. And gradually we came to the understanding that what we ought to do is make a printed circuit board and of course have them for our own systems and maybe sell them for double the money it costs to make them, just the blank printed circuit boards. And maybe recoup our money in six to nine months. So I sold my Volkswagen van and Woz sold his HP65 calculator and we got 1300 bucks together and we went out and paid a printed-circuit-board artist to make up the artwork. And we were out trying to peddle these boards in advance of making any of them to see if we could sell 50 of them. So I was out trying to peddle boards and about the third time I walked into the Byte Shop -- the first Byte Shop in Mountain View -- Paul Terrell, who was the proprietor, told me that he'd take 50 of them. I saw dollar signs in front of my eyes. But he said that he wanted them fully assembled and ready to go, which was a new twist to the story. So we spent the next two days visiting distributors and convincing them to give us net 30 days credit on thin air, built the computers in 20 days, turned them around, Paul paid cash, and we paid off the distributors. So we built the whole company on float. And we continued to do that. I quit my job at Atari and Woz continued at HP for another six months working in the evenings at Apple.
Steve Jobs on naming Apple:
I was actually a fruitarian at that point in time. I ate only fruit. Now I'm a garbage can like everyone else. And we were about three months late in filing a fictitious business name so I threatened to call the company Apple Computer unless someone suggested a more interesting name by five o'clock that day. Hoping to stimulate creativity. And it stuck. And that's why we're called Apple.
Apple Computer's original "Newton" logo
Dan Kottke and Steve Jobs at the Apple booth at an early computer show.
Steve Jobs on the plan:
We didn't do three years of research and come up with this concept. What we did was follow our own instincts and constructed a computer that was what we wanted, ourselves, refined it to where it was exactly what we wanted, and then sat back and watched what happened when we exposed other people to it.
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Fire in the Valley by Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine