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Bill Gates in his own e-mails

How has Bill Gates’ thinking evolved over the years? Internal Microsoft memos and e-mails provide a glimpse inside his mind, showing how he has approached the struggles and opportunities facing the company, from BASIC to Windows Vista. Microsoft has made some of these messages public as part of its historical record, but many were disclosed in lawsuits against the company. Click the links to read the source documents.

February 1976: “An open letter to hobbyists”: In this seminal message, a young Bill Gates rails against software piracy among early computer hobbyists and displays the blunt approach for which he will become known: “As the majority of hobbyists must be aware,” he writes, “most of you steal your software.”

April 1987: “Microsoft is #1”: In a message to his top executives, Gates marks the moment that the company passes Lotus as the largest software company: “Of course their sales may go past ours again and it’s not really our goal to be #1, but I do get a real kick out of the fight that their big distraction of being the largest is being taken away BEFORE WE HAVE EVEN BEGUN TO REALLY COMPETE WITH THEM,” he writes.

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