Hardcore Software →February 17, 2021 • #
Steven Sinofsky is writing a book on his time at Microsoft and the rise of the PC. He joined Microsoft during its ascendancy in 1989, starting as a software engineer and moving up to leading product on Office for most of his time with the company.
So far the first few parts of the book are excellent, as expected. Sinofsky was instrumental in so many of Microsoft’s key product businesses. He’s written so much great stuff on his blog over the years.
I’m eating up each chapter as he puts them up. Here’s a great bit about his offer to come work at Microsoft in 1989, and a call from Bill Gates himself working the college recruitment phones:
“Hi, Steve, this is Bill Gates.”
“Hello. Thank you for calling, and so sorry for the confusion. I thought a friend of mine…”
“So, David gave me this list of like ten people and I’m supposed to call all of them and convince them to work at Microsoft. You should come work at Microsoft. Do you have any questions?” (I always thought this was the best part of the call—him telling me he was just cranking through a list. Transparency.)
“I’m definitely excited and thinking about it. I don’t really have any questions.”
“Well, why haven’t you accepted yet? You have a good offer.”
“I’m considering other things. I have been really interested in government service.”
“Government? That’s for when you’re old and stupid.”
(No, really, he said that.)
“At Microsoft we have amazing things going on in multimedia. Have you seen all the things we are doing with CD-ROMs and video? We are going to make a whole encyclopedia on a CD-ROM, 650 megabytes with videos, maps, quizzes, and more.”
“I haven’t. I use a Macintosh and workstations. I used MS-DOS at my summer job and Windows 1.0, but it was pretty slow.”
“Well, Microsoft makes more money on Macintoshes than Apple does because of our apps—our word prosser [sic], Word, is super good. OS/2 runs in protect mode, which the Mac does not do. Do you have any more questions?”
“I’m glad we got to talk. The offer is super good. Bye.”
- Microsoft Access: The Database Software That Won't Die — On the longevity of Microsoft Access.
- Clippy: The Unauthorized Biography — Steven Sinofsky gives the history of Clippy, Microsoft's original assistant