The photo above is a Microsoft classic, showing the company’s founders, Paul Allen and Bill Gates, surrounded by personal computers in 1981. Fast forward 32 years, and check out the picture below, taken this week at Allen’s Living Computer Museum in Seattle.


Yes, even the computers are the same models, for the most part. Gates is in a pullover, Allen in a suit jacket. About the biggest difference, apart from the three decades, is that Allen is missing the beard and tie. Pretty awesome.

The picture was taken during a celebration of computing pioneers at the museum. It’s notable in part because of the rift that emerged between the two Microsoft founders following the publication of Allen’s book, Idea Man, and its unvarnished portrayal of Gates.

[Update: A spokeswoman for Allen tells us that the picture was taken last night at the museum, which features working models of many vintage PCs and mainframes. Allen hosted a small gathering of friends, many of them computing and technology pioneers. The museum staff worked in advance to track down the models to recreate the classic shot.]

Microsoft and Newsweek did something similar with an even more iconic picture, getting the gang back together to remake the classic shot from Albuquerque when Gates retired from day-to-day work at the company in 2008.

Follow-up: Modest beginnings: Bill Gates’ 1974 resume surfaces, seeking a $15k salary

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  • Andreas Kolshorn

    Ha! My old Heath/Zenith Z-89 in the foreground below Mr. Allen! Owned one in college with a Hayes 300 baud modem to upload class projects in Cobol to a RJE HP3000/IBM370 combo. Ah the warm green glow of code lines slowly echoing back across the telephone line a character at a time.

  • Seattle Startup

    Rift? C’mon….Allen told it like it was in the book. I would think Gates would have done the same thing–he was probably happy to have it all in the public

    • Todd Bishop

      There’s no question that there was a rift between the two of them over the book. I interviewed Allen at Town Hall after the book came out, and he acknowledged at the time that Gates was upset by some of the things he wrote. In the epilogue in the paperback version of Idea Man last year, Allen wrote that they didn’t talk for more than a year, and he was worried that their friendship “might be permanently ruptured.” I do agree with you that Allen’s book told it like it was — he was admirably critical of himself, as well.

  • Chris van Loben Sels

    Dude. I would love to have my school’s old Commodore PET to give to my kids.
    ( )

    • JaJaStuff

      funny thing about the PET: readingSteve Jobs’ Biography, the jocks from commodore came over the jobs’ garage to look at the new apple II, nine months later, release a worse version with (guffaw) a calculator keyboard. No criticisms intende,d though.

  • Art Lewellan

    Dearest SEATTLITES,

    YOUR bore tunnel plan is fraught.
    Weak Seawall Beach idea harms fisheries.
    Streetcars on slippery slopes.
    Mud embankment tunnels roll.
    Voids. Sinkholes. Structural Loss.
    Noisily up-hill big-rigs noisily
    squash downhill stopped-traffic
    and Mercer pedestrians.

    Bill & Allen, your people are being misled
    by OUR Highway BOYS.
    Get a grip.

    • Douglas

      Well… I guess you’re not very well mentally, Wells

      • Wells

        When the buildings above the deep bore tunnel collapse, your remains, Douglas, may be found there in your own hell.

  • TampFamp

    Wow thats pretty amazing stuff.

  • Melissa Austin

    Paul looked older in the 1st photo then younger than Bill on the current one. Funny

    • Fabrice Alex Kazadi

      you’re right.

  • rbanffy

    Even respecting the Superbrain (I had one) and the Sanyo 555, I miss the Datapoint 8200 and the NEC PC-8001 of the original picture. Sad to know the museum staff was unable to secure those two.

    • Cynde Moya

      Excellent work identifying the two missing and two replacement computers.

      • rbanffy

        Thanks. The Superbrain, the Datapoint and the 555 (mostly notable for being almost PC-compatible) were quite famous at the time. The NEC, sadly, didn’t enjoy the same notability (and, at first, I thought it was a Toshiba T-100). And, of course, being a restorer/collector myself, those machines wouldn’t escape me. I wonder if the Apple II that’s just out of the frame of the new picture is a ][ with a Sanyo monitor or a newer model ;-)

  • Caroline Clarke

    I have business cards, with 8 digits, no facsimile, mobile, email, skype, www to name but a few, how far to have come – so far – grateful to the many having ploughed on thank you

  • Sachin Kumar

    in future i dont want to remember anything,……………….

  • Ron

    Machines don’t grow old…. But people do !!!

    • Jovan

      Ron, that is a stupid thing to say and you should feel bad.

      • Ferdinand Chetler

        Was Ron wrong?

        • Ed Guidry

          To quote The Dude, “You’re not wrong, Walter, you’re just an asshole.”
          Not saying that Ron is an asshole, but it seemed to good place to use a Big LeBowski quote.

  • Fabrice Alex Kazadi

    On the photo: They have changed but the machines have not.
    Beautiful picture:” memories of the beginnings of Microsoft” but today men, computers have all evolved.

  • Meredith Poor

    The Datapoint in the original picture might have been a terminal. However, the thick keyboard gives it away as a 3800, which was a diskless (network bootable) computer Datapoint made in the late 1970s. The 1800 was a counterpart with removable disks and/or diskettes. Those of us that worked on those two machines in particular hated them.



  • Neil Mason

    Gates looks like a kid.

  • Hollis J. Gillespie

    Had the great fortune to meet Paul Allen during the re dedication of the exhibit, ‘StartUp: Albuquerque and the Computer Revolution” while I was the Director of the NM Museum of Natural History and Science. The exhibition is dedicated to the late Ed Roberts and his creation of the Altair 8800 personal computer. These images thrill me to recognize the enormous impact and history these gentlemen have brought to everyday life.

  • SirCasm

    Oh look! Distance between the two is growing.

  • Ashley Avenged

    Although I’m too young to know what using these old computers is like I do remember the old IBM computers we used in grade school in the early 90s. Though they probably did much more than even those early models did, compared to computers today (comparing them to the laptop im typing this from even) It seems like a world ago these things were “in fashion” per-say. I’d love to play around with some of those old computers at the museum just to see what they were like.

  • Wisecrack

    Three decades and billions later,
    yet apparently still neither can afford a decent haircut.

  • Sean P Kelley

    I see Bill is still using the same hair brush.

  • Semih Yazıcı

    paul allen yıllar geçtikçe gençleşmiş ya =)

  • Monipenny

    si parece más viejo Bill que Paul en la segunda foto..
    el dinero envejece..

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