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Microsoft co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen got 'busted' in high school for exploiting a bug in the computer system

Microsoft Co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1984
Doug Wilson | Corbis Historical | Getty Images

Microsoft co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen first met as teenagers in the late 1960s at Lakeside School in Seattle, when Gates was in eighth grade and Allen was in tenth grade.

It was a computer terminal that first "brought us together," Gates said of his late friend at the Forbes Philanthropy Summit in New York, where Allen was posthumously awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Philanthropy. "Our school, Lakeside, held a rummage sale and used the proceeds to buy a teletype terminal. We were obsessed with it."

Computer terminals were rare at the time, and as a result, "it was really expensive to use — $40 an hour," Gates said. "The only way for us to get computer time was by exploiting a bug in the system."

They "eventually got busted," he added, "but that led to our first official partnership between Paul and me: We worked out a deal with the company to use computers for free if we would identify problems."

The friends continued working together after high school: In 1974, the summer after Gates' freshman year at Harvard, they were both computer programmers at software company Honeywell. And in 1975, when Gates was 19, he dropped out of his sophomore year of college to launch Microsoft, now a trillion dollar company, with Allen.

Gates, who stepped down as Microsoft's CEO in 2000 and now runs one of the world's biggest nonprofits with his wife, Melinda, owes a lot to his high school: "If there had been no Lakeside, there would have been no Microsoft," he said in a 2005 speech at Lakeside School.

And without Allen, Gates said after his former peer and friend died of cancer last year, "personal computing would not have existed."

Don't miss: What Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates was doing at 20 years old

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Microsoft Co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1984
Doug Wilson | Corbis Historical | Getty Images
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