We had a little internal yearbook thing you could sign for Bill last week.  This is what I wrote:

 

Dear Bill,

In not too many weeks now I’ll be celebrating my 20th anniversary at Microsoft.  I think I owe you some thanks for these 20 years, and some from before.

In fall of 1979 I got my first real access to a computer. It was a Commodore PET and it was running Microsoft BASIC.  For me, and many others like me, that exposure caused a radical change in our life trajectories. 

By Christmas I was learning 6502 assembler and those MOS tech handbooks were not exactly rich in examples.  If you wanted to see *real* code you had to disassemble/understand the ROMs.  So I guess what I’m saying is that, at the tender age of 15, I was ripping off your intellectual property.  Sorry about that.

I did manage to get pretty good at 6502 assembler and I like to think some of that code was yours, so I tell my friends I got my first low level programming lessons from Bill Gates.  Of course you didn’t know it, but it was nonetheless successful long-distance education through the magic of software.

Eight years, one diploma, and one degree later, I landed in Redmond.  That was 1988.  Since then, I’ve had many chances to meet, learn from, and work with some great people inside and outside of Microsoft – even Melinda for a time – and in turn affect the lives of others. 

Thank you for the education, the opportunities, and the inspiration.

-Rico