In Bill Gates' send-off from full-time work at Microsoft on Friday, Steve Ballmer and Gates reminisced about their friendship, careers and...

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In Bill Gates’ send-off from full-time work at Microsoft on Friday, Steve Ballmer and Gates reminisced about their friendship, careers and the development of the software industry.

If the earliest part of their friendship was any indication, you might have guessed they would have turned into a decent tag team in a wrestling ring instead of geeky software moguls.

You see, 34 years ago, a mutual friend said the two energetic Harvard undergraduates, traveling in very different circles, had to meet. They hooked up for a man date of sorts — taking in a double feature: “Singing in the Rain,” still Ballmer’s favorite movie, and “A Clockwork Orange.”

Then came the physical altercation.

As Ballmer recounted Friday, the two were living at Radcliffe, in Currier House, which Ballmer described as a “weird place.”

“Bill and I were as weird as you got in this weird place in many ways,” he said.

“We come back from the movie and we’re both kind of dancing and playing Gene Kelly, and some guy just wrestles me to the ground … and Bill’s trying to like beat him off,” Ballmer said to roaring laughter at the send-off (because wouldn’t you expect it to be the other way around?). “It was really quite a weird place.”


How he’s viewed

OK, if you can take just a little more about Gates’ leaving, here are some responses we received from online readers on the question: What will Gates’ legacy be?

I will always hold Chairman Bill in the highest esteem for a couple of reasons. One, he took on the bluebloods back east and slayed them at their own insider-capitalist game. Two, his roots were in coding and, according to the legend, he wrote the operating system for the Commodore 64 and VIC 20. I wonder how many future software CEOs will have Chairman Bill’s computer savvy and killer business sense.

— Chris D


Gates’ legacy will be a wonderment to business-school grads for decades, a stupefying collision of entrepreneurship, perfect timing and luck. Cheers to Bill and Melinda, I have a feeling his timing is once again, perfect.

— rob


It’s too bad that Gates never envisioned and strived to create products that would be easy and reliable to use. Bill Gates is to the computer world what Dale Chihuly is to the art world. Mediocre at his profession but the best at branding and marketing and making money.

I’ll give him credit for one thing: Unlike his former partner Paul Allen, he uses his own money for his business interests and leaves the taxpayers out of it.

— My computer crashed, Seattle

We had Ford, Rockefeller, Edison. Bill Gates will be one more addition to the list of the greats

— Manjunath


Gates is the rare individual who gets to change the world twice. First, with technology (all the naysayers who post vile messages about him probably using his software and systems), and second, with his foundation work. What an achievement. People who continue to gripe about Microsoft stock and other issues miss and belittle his achievements.

— Paul



— AW


On the record

New partnerships: Whrrl, the mobile social-networking service from Seattle-based Pelago, has added support to the Motorola Razr, BlackBerry World and Samsung M610.

New development:, a Seattle online travel-information service, has integrated several services into its Web site, including flight search results, ticket-price tracking and alerts. Previously, the services were available only by a browser add-on.

Download, a column of news bits, observations and miscellany, is gathered by The Seattle Times technology staff. We can be reached at 206-464-2265 or