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Quote of the Day

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”

-Bill Gates, who on this day in 1975 signed his first licensing deal for his BASIC software.

July 22nd – This Day in Stock Market History

July 22nd, 1975 – Bill Gates and Paul Allen sign their first software licensing agreement with MITS. The deal gave MITS exclusive use of Gates’ and Allen’s BASIC software.

Image Source: Wikipedia
Image Source: Wikipedia

In the deal, Microsoft would get $30 for each 4K version of BASIC licensed on MITS hardware, $35 for each 8K version, and $60 for each “extended” version.

MITS also had the ability to license BASIC without hardware, in which case Microsoft would get 50% of the sale.

The original BASIC software would be delivered on Altair’s 8800 computer:

Altair 8800 Computer with 8 inch floppy disk system. Circa 1975. Image Source: Wikipedia
Altair 8800 Computer with 8 inch floppy disk system. Circa 1975. Image Source: Wikipedia

The deal would maximize Microsoft’s revenue from the agreement at $180,000. Although the deal was a small start, it would get Microsoft’s software out into the world, and introduce computer users to the faces that would come to dominate computer software.

Source: Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire

Best July 22nd in Dow Jones Industrial Average History

1932 – Up 2.56%, 1.19 points.

Worst July 22nd in Dow Jones Industrial Average History

2002 – Down 2.93%, 234.68 points.

Read of the Day

Bill Gates in now long separated from his old role at Microsoft, but he remains active in other endeavors.

He also keeps a blog at Gatesnotes.com, and is an avid reader. He frequently updates his blog with reading lists. Here is his list for this summer, along with his commentary on each book:

Despite the heavy subject matter, all these books were fun to read, and most of them are pretty short. Even the longest (Leonardo) goes quickly. If you’re looking for something to read over the next few months, you can’t go wrong with:

  • Leonardo da Vinci: By Walter Iaacson
    . I think Leonardo was one of the most fascinating people ever. Although today he’s best known as a painter, Leonardo had an absurdly wide range of interests, from human anatomy to the theater. Isaacson does the best job I’ve seen of pulling together the different strands of Leonardo’s life and explaining what made him so exceptional. A worthy follow-up to Isaacson’s great biographies of Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs.
  • Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved
    , by Kate Bowler. When Bowler, a professor at Duke Divinity School, is diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, she sets out to understand why it happened. Is it a test of her character? The result is a heartbreaking, surprisingly funny memoir about faith and coming to grips with your own mortality.
  • Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel
    , by George Saunders. I thought I knew everything I needed to know about Abraham Lincoln, but this novel made me rethink parts of his life. It blends historical facts from the Civil War with fantastical elements—it’s basically a long conversation among 166 ghosts, including Lincoln’s deceased son. I got new insight into the way Lincoln must have been crushed by the weight of both grief and responsibility. This is one of those fascinating, ambiguous books you’ll want to discuss with a friend when you’re done.
  • Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
    , by David Christian. David created my favorite course of all time, Big History. It tells the story of the universe from the big bang to today’s complex societies, weaving together insights and evidence from various disciplines into a single narrative. If you haven’t taken Big History yet, Origin Story is a great introduction. If you have, it’s a great refresher. Either way, the book will leave you with a greater appreciation of humanity’s place in the universe.
  • Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think
    , by Hans Rosling, with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund. I’ve been recommending this book since the day it came out. Hans, the brilliant global-health lecturer who died last year, gives you a breakthrough way of understanding basic truths about the world—how life is getting better, and where the world still needs to improve. And he weaves in unforgettable anecdotes from his life. It’s a fitting final word from a brilliant man, and one of the best books I’ve ever read.