The machinery was new to everyone, students and faculty alike, Gates says. At the time, computers were expensive: The machines cost thousands of dollars, they were slow and they consumed a lot of electricity. "That made computers seem pretty scary to some people here — especially when 13-year-old kids were eager to try their luck next."
"The school could have shut down the terminal, or they could have tightly regulated who got to use it," Gates says. "Instead, they opened it up. Instead of teaching us about computers in the conventional sense, Lakeside just unleashed us."
It was also at Lakeside that he became friends with Paul Allen, his future business partner and co-founder of Microsoft.
"The experience and insight Paul Allen and I gained here gave us the confidence to start a company based on this wild idea that nobody else agreed with — that computer chips were going to become so powerful that computers and software would become a tool that would be on every desk and in every home," Gates says.
As a result of the way his teachers "did everything to make their lessons matter," Gates says he was better able to understand the relevance of computers in the real world.
"They could have hired an outside computer expert to do the scheduling system. Teachers could have insisted that they teach classes on computing, simply because they were the teachers and we were the students," Gates says. "But they didn't."
As a result, he says, "if there had been no Lakeside, there would have been no Microsoft."
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