Cover by Charles Arthur

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Chapter One

1998

Bill Gates and Microsoft

Late in 1998 the New Yorker writer Ken Auletta visited Bill Gates, then chief executive of Microsoft, at his offices in Redmond, Washington. It was, as you’d expect of a chief executive, a corner office, with trees on one side and buildings on another. Unassuming brown office chairs sat around polished pine furniture; Gates’s desk emerged from the tree-side wall, looking more like a breakfast bar than the symbol of a powerful executive. On the desktop under the window facing the trees sat three 21-inch computer monitors. Gates could move documents around their entire expanse.

Microsoft’s stock was roaring, making the company worth around $250 billion and Gates, then 43, the richest man in the world, ...

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