Microsoft, 1978: Would You Have Invested?

microsoft 1978

This photo of what looks like a bunch of long-haired hippies has been circulating through email accompanied by the caption "Microsoft, 1978: Would you have invested?"

Is the photo real? Is this really what the management of Microsoft looked like in 1978? Yes, on both counts.

The photo was taken December 7, 1978 in Albuquerque, New Mexico before the company moved its offices to Washington. The people in the photo are (from left to right, starting at the top) Steve Wood, Bob Wallace, Jim Lane, Bob O' Rear, Bob Greenberg, Marc McDonald, Gordon Letwin, Bill Gates, Andrea Lewis, Marla Wood, and Paul Allen.

The photo is posted on Microsoft's website on Bill Gates's biography page.

If you had chosen to invest your money with this bunch of scruffy looking characters back in 1978, you'd be quite rich now. But how rich did the people in the photo become? Here's their estimated wealth, listed in descending order:

Bill Gates: Still with Microsoft as it's chairman and chief software architect. His fortune is somewhere in the range of $50 billion.

Paul Allen: Left Microsoft in 1983 but remains a senior strategy advisor to the company. Worth around $25 billion.

Bob O'Rear: Left Microsoft in 1983. Is now a cattle rancher and is worth around $100 million.

Bob Greenberg: Left Microsoft in 1981 and then helped launch those Cabbage Patch Dolls that were so popular in the 1980s. Last time anyone checked, he was worth around $20 million.

Jim Lane: Left Microsoft in 1985. Now has his own software company and is worth around $20 million.

Gordon Letwin: Left Microsoft in 1993 and now devotes himself to environmental causes. Is worth around $20 million.

Steve and Marla Wood: They both left Microsoft in 1980 and Marla then sued the company for sex discrimination. They're worth around $15 million.

Bob Wallace: Left Microsoft in 1983. Worth around $5 million.

Andrea Lewis: Was Microsoft's first technical writer. Left the company in 1983. Worth around $2 million.

Marc McDonald: Was Microsoft's first employee. Left the company in 1984, but recently rejoined the company when Microsoft bought Design Intelligence, the company he was working for. Has the honor of getting to wear badge number 00001. Probably worth at least $1 million.

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