Buffalo Boys

By DeusExMacintosh

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has been awarded the Silver Buffalo, the highest Boy Scout honour in the US, for his services to youth.

The accolade is for Mr Gates’ work both at Microsoft and for his humanitarian work through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Mr Gates was a member of the scouts in the 1960s and 1970s in Seattle…

His former scoutmaster, Don Van Wierengen, spoke of his former pupil in a video tribute.

He said that during one scouting event in Seattle, when most boys had been showing off their outdoor skills, Mr Gates had wanted to demonstrate computers.

The Gates’ foundation, which began in 2000, has set up a number of aid projects across the developing world.

The foundation has teamed up the Boy Scouts and the United Nations Foundation for a project designed to supply Africans with insecticide-treated mosquito nets, in a bid to tackle malaria and other diseases.

BBC News


  1. TerjeP
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    As a young teenager Bill Gates used to sneak out of the house at 2am so he could go and cut code on the local university computer. That’s initiative.

  2. Posted September 21, 2010 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Nice one DEM.

    People forget Gates fought the internet protocol tooth and nail, not until windoze 95 was IP in Windows out-of-the-box, we were all supposed to use his proprietary netbios and remote-OLE. Then there’s his pronouncements “why would anybody need more than 640kb RAM (changing his tune only when Windows could actually get to that memory).

    If there /was/ a computer-in-every-home visionary, I’d be tossing up between Woz’n’Jobs and Sir Clive Sinclair, who was manufacturing cheap ones (and eco-friendly commuter cycles – trikes from memory with shells that made them more like small cars) back before Bill “the Borg” Gates purchased SeattleDOS for the newfangled 16-bit IBM PC XT.

    The Sinclair ZX series computers in the very early 1980s were quite groovy bits of kit, selling for under the magic 100 sterling figure. Much sexier than my Trash80 clone in 82, second-hand for $150, but nowhere near as sexy as “my” DG Supernova and DEC-10 (not that you could take those last two home!)

    I don’t know why Sinclair isn’t better known these days (he might be in the UK – dunno), but then Sinclair was trying to make cheap electronic stuff for the masses since the late 1950s and was getting a bit old to get into the collective conciousness by the time most people had a computer in every /office/.

    Well, a knighthood from Her Maj trumps a buffalo badge /any/ day.

    Sinclair is more interesting than Gates too… He was viewed as brilliant, idealistic, but a bit eccentric… by 70s/80s geeks – and that’s saying something!

  3. Posted September 21, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    sorry – DEC-20… Finger trouble.

  4. Posted September 21, 2010 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    I wonder what would have happened if the world had understood Sinclair when back in 1985 he was pushing cheap electric cars for the masses – and cute ones if you look at the picture http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinclair_C5

    Possibly we wouldn’t be debating climate change, on a legally-themed blog, or at least not yet.

  5. Movius
    Posted September 22, 2010 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    I love that gates quote about 640kb ram.

    It looks so good on chain emails between his advice about being nice to nerds and selections from Robin Williams on foreign policy.

  6. TerjeP
    Posted September 25, 2010 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    My first computer was the Toshiba MSX128 when I was 13. I think I bought it around the end of 1983. It ran MS basic and had a Z80 processor. I taught myself assembler language and invented a crude Z80 assembler using basic. I had a lot of fun tinkering with that box.

    MSX was Microsofts early attempt at making a hardware independent OS. It was this vision that was their ultimate genius. By unlocking us from proprietary hardware they unleashed massive innovation in both software and hardware and they made a bundle in the process. A great insight on Bills part. A massive contribution to humanity.

  7. Posted September 25, 2010 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    T: Well done on the Zilog assembler in BASIC. Weirdly, when I wrote FlyBuys analytical engine, I gave the statisticians giant “assemblers” of sequences of bitmaps and operators to apply to the data, written in PL/SQL – it was easier for them to define the bitmaps and operations sequences (kept in dictionaries for easy combination and sequencing) than tell a programmers to write SQL that would have been an unprovable 10 pages a statement. Whodathunk bitwise masks, shifts, etc would help massive datamining? Shame they didn’t give me an extra week and I’d have given them 16000-bit arithmetic.

    There is a strange resonance here with SL’s book, the application of ancient near-forgotten perspectives to more modern problems.

    If you want to talk about hardware independence, the real visionary is Amazing Grace Hopper (although I was a fortran bigot, refusing to do other than /read/ cobol). Again, his buffalo badges don’t rate against her braid of Rear Admiral.

  8. Posted September 27, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    I went to a posh high school that taught us BASIC so we could colour-in cards with pencil and feed them into a dining table-sized mainframe to make it burp (why it was meant to burp was never actually explained).

    Re: Gates’ vision. I can remember writing for MacPower back in the mid-90s when the wisdom of Bill was that this internet thing wasn’t going to take off. Once we saw Netscape, Microserf was playing catchup for the next two years.

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