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My first trip to the MS Corporate Campus in Redmond

Call me a geek, but as my bus pulled into the Microsoft Corporate Campus in Redmond, WA this morning, I couldn't help but feel like a little kid entering Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. I'm here in Redmond covering a Windows 2008 Server technical workshop for the media, and while I'll be blogging about Longhorn developments soon, I felt compelled to share a fascinating experience I just had.
After Microsoft shamelessly (ok, it was more of a polite invitation) shuffled us through their corporate store, I made my way downstairs to the Visitors Center which is really a Disney World like presentation of the history of the Microsoft Corporation. It was in the visitors center that I experienced a moment of awe and reflection. Sitting behind a thick pane of glass, I set eyes upon the worlds first PC, the MITS 8800.

The device was loaded with its original hole punched paper tape which represented the binary 1's and 0's of a software program. The device itself looked more like an incoherent series of switches and LED's stuffed into an ugly box, and as I moved along the display, it really hit me at how far we've come in only 30 years. Next in the display was an original user manual for the Altair BASIC operating system. While the manual itself was not very interesting, what was laugh out loud funny was the fact that OS users were directed to call Bill Gates and Bill Allen directly for technical support. Can't do that anymore. Next in line was an original TRS-80 that went on sale in 1977 for $599.95, it came loaded with 4k of RAM, a space age cassette drive for loading software, and a beautiful new 8 inch monochrome tube monitor.

Moving right along is where my frame of reference begins, I saw DOS 3.3 on its original 5 1/4 inch floppy. I still consider DOS 3.3 to be the greatest operating system ever developed. Seeing the original box brought back memories of programming my first program (a smiley face that scrolled across the screen) in BASIC on the Commodore 64.

Alas, it was time to catch the bus back to the meeting hall to discuss 64 bit computing, virtualization and green data centers, how times have changed.

A few more interesting observations.

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