Bill Gate’s 1976 Letter About Software Piracy

By on December 27, 2008

Bill Gates’ Open Letter to Hobbyists in Homebrew Club: If you ever wondered why Microsoft is so hung up on DRM, here’s a clue. Back in 1976, a young (just 20) Bill Gates wrote this letter to the legendary Homebrew Computer Club complaining that Altair BASIC was being rampantly pirated.

The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they are using BASIC has all been positive. Two surprising things are apparent, however, 1) Most of these “users” never bought BASIC (less than 10% of all Altair owners have bought BASIC), and 2) The amount of royalties we have received from sales to hobbyists makes the time spent on Altair BASIC worth less than $2 an hour.

Why is this? As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software.

And, towards the end:

Most directly, the thing you do is theft.

Via Jeff Atwood who has a longer post about the problem of piracy and how it’s never going to change.



  1. Alexis says:

    See Bill Gates interview on the Charlie Rose show Dec. 22, 2008 and hisBill Gates' Misstatement.

  2. Donald says:

    Here is the link to Bill Gates' Misstatement

  3. Anonymous says:


  4. . says:

    Did nobody read the rebuttal from the next issue? Quite a good response.

  5. Where is the issue located? Thanks.

  6. thanks for the info. it's great to have my finger on the pulse of breaking news.

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