Good to be Bad, Again

Good to be Bad, Again
Three Unappreciated Demon Slayers

Spanner | 28 Aug 2007 07:46
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To quote C. Montgomery Burns: "Friends, family and religion. These are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business." A cold hand at the grindstone is he, but this callous philosophy resounds profoundly with a game industry built from hard-boiled bricks of insensitivity on coldhearted foundations, held together with a merciless mortar of unfeeling dedication.

The games we know and love exist because of demon slayers born to make Monty proud, and though we may love to hate them, our aching thumbs owe their emotional stolidity a debt of gratitude.

Bill Gates
"As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software." - An excerpt from Gates' "Open Letter to Hobbyists" dated February 3, 1976.

Unlike many, I feel I can see through the red (it should be green, but I didn't choose the color of my blood) haze of jealousy that surrounds the Microsoft mogul. William Henry Gates III has led a charmed life, and it's all too easy to resent him for simply amassing a wealth that dwarfs the GDP of numerous developing nations, especially when there are far more valid reasons to resent his business strategies.

Despite the iron hand with which Microsoft has ruled throughout its reign of terror, Bill himself actually got started by exploiting weaknesses in a computer system to acquire privileges for himself and his team of nerdish cowboys. Gates and his chums found a loophole in Computer Center Corporation's PDP-10 system (a system that limited how much time users could spend on a specific mainframe). They were able to find a security hole that all but disabled the security software and gave them unlimited access to the machine, effectively stealing hardware resources from CCC. CCC found out what Gates and his cronies were up to and banned them from its network.

Not one to leave a market opportunity unexploited, Gates then took his nefarious skills back to CCC and offered to put them to use by actively seeking out other such bugs in the company's systems, in exchange for the free computer access to which he'd previously been helping himself.


In the end, this arrangement worked out well for both Gates and CCC, who began paying the young hacker to write software for new platforms. Young William then took his now working partnership with Paul Allen and founded Microsoft to develop a BASIC system for MITS, and one of his first acts (as the owner of exactly the kind of system he used to exploit) was to publish a nasty letter to hobbyist programmers complaining that they were all stealing his software. To be fair, many were, though as Bill knew better than most, the climate at the time was one which sought to provide software and information for free in order to expand and improve the programming world.

At least Bill stuck to his ruthless philosophy from beginning to end, and it remained, whether we like it or not, a strong platform from which a great many incredible games were launched. Now a dedicated philanthropist, having received an honorary KBE by the British Crown, his bottomless bank account has genuinely begun to benefit the whole world.

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