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1976年2月3日,比尔·盖茨给电脑爱好者们写了一封公开信,抱怨未经授权使用Altair BASIC的情况太普遍,导致新成立的微软公司回报甚微。这封信相当有名,被看作是软件通过商业授权获取收入的真正开端。今天,让我们回顾下这封著名的公开信。


February 3, 1976

By William Henry Gates III
To me, the most critical thing in the hobby market right now is the lack of good software courses, books and software itself. Without good software and an owner who understands programming, a hobby computer is wasted. Will quality software be written for the hobby market?

Almost a year ago, Paul Allen and myself, expecting the hobby market to expand, hired Monte Davidoff and developed Altair BASIC. Though the initial work took only two months, the three of us have spent most of the last year documenting, improving and adding features to BASIC. Now we have 4K, 8K, EXTENDED, ROM and DISK BASIC. The value of the computer time we have used exceeds $40,000.

The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they are using BASIC has all been positive. Two surprising things are apparent, however, 1) Most of these "users" never bought BASIC (less than 10% of all Altair owners have bought BASIC), and 2) The amount of royalties we have received from sales to hobbyists makes the time spent on Altair BASIC worth less than $2 an hour.

Why is this? As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software. Hardware must be paid for, but software is something to share. Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid?

Is this fair? One thing you don’t do by stealing software is get back at MITS for some problem you may have had. MITS doesn’t make money selling software. The royalty paid to us, the manual, the tape and the overhead make it a break-even operation. One thing you do do is prevent good software from being written. Who can afford to do professional work for nothing? What hobbyist can put 3-man years into programming, finding all bugs, documenting his product and distribute for free? The fact is, no one besides us has invested a lot of money in hobby software. We have written 6800 BASIC, and are writing 8080 APL and 6800 APL, but there is very little incentive to make this software available to hobbyists. Most directly, the thing you do is theft.

What about the guys who re-sell Altair BASIC, aren’t they making money on hobby software? Yes, but those who have been reported to us may lose in the end. They are the ones who give hobbyists a bad name, and should be kicked out of any club meeting they show up at.

I would appreciate letters from any one who wants to pay up, or has a suggestion or comment. Just write to me at 1180 Alvarado SE, #114, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87108. Nothing would please me more than being able to hire ten programmers and deluge the hobby market with good software.

Bill Gates

General Partner, Micro-Soft







一年以前,我和保罗艾伦很高兴地看到业余电脑爱好者市场迅速壮大,我们雇佣了Monte Davidoff一同开发了ALTIR BASIC程序。尽管最初的工作只用了两个月时间,但我们三人几乎用了去年一年的时间编写文档,继续改善BASIC,添加新的特性。现在,我们已经有了4K,8K,更多内存的磁盘BASIC和ROM BASIC。如果计算我们的工作价值,我们已经花费了4万多美元。

我们已经从成百的BASIC使用者得到了反馈,他们都给予了BASIC非常肯定的评价。尽管如此,这里仍有两个令人惊讶的问题。1、绝大多数“用户”都没有购买BASIC(只有不到10%的Altair用户购买BASIC)。 2、我们民到的版税如果按照我们花费在ALTAIR BASIC上的时间来算,每小时不到2美元。



谁会从事专业的软件开发却分文无获。哪有业余爱好者会花费3人年的精力去编写软件,去修正软件,编写使用手册却免费发放给别人使用。事实上,只有我们大量投资来为个人电脑做软件。我们已经写了6800 BASIC写成了808 0APL和6800 APL,但是现在几乎没有什么动力让我们向你们提供这些软件。说白了,你们的所作所为就是窃贼( Theft)。

那些拿了ALTAIR BASIC来卖的家伙怎么样,难道他们没有因为爱好者软件而赚到钱吗?是的,这些人最终必将失败。他们给了电脑爱好者一个坏名声,只要他们一露面,就应该被所有的爱好者俱乐部踢出去。

如果有人愿意为我们的软件付钱,或者有什么建议的争论,都可以写信给我,我将非常高兴。我的地址是:1180 ALVARADO SE #14,ALBUQUERQUE,新墨西哥州 ,87108,任何事情都没有比能雇佣10个程序员向个人电脑市场提供大量的软件更能让我高兴的了。


本文固定链接: http://www.nuniao.com/history-bill-gates-book-for-computer-enthusiasts-in-an-open-letter.html | 驽鸟公寓

该日志由 驽鸟 于2008年10月26日发表在 未分类 分类下, 你可以发表评论,并在保留原文地址及作者的情况下引用到你的网站或博客。
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    2008-10-27 6:55 下午 [回复]