I look at today’s philanthropist Bill Gates, it’s very hard to imagine that in the early days of Microsoft, he was an actual programmer. Born on October 28, 1955, he wrote his first computer program at the age of 13. You might have read the famous story of how Bill Gates hacked his school computer to meet girls.
In 1975, he met his hometown friend Paul Allen and developed software for the first microcomputers. They worked together to adapt BASIC for using it on the microcomputers. Thanks to his project’s success, later he left Harvard and formed Microsoft.
During the same journey, Microsoft licensed MS-DOS to IBM, the world’s biggest computer supplier of the world. A fact that’s lesser known is that Bill Gates is also the creator of first-ever PC game–here’s the code of the same.
Named DONKEY.BAS, this simple driving game was written by Bill Gates and his friend Neil Konzen at 4am in the morning. It was programmed on a prototype IBM machine and came free with the early versions of MS-DOS operating system for IBM PCs.
Bill Gates himself told the history of the game during a TechEd keynote in 2001. Here’s what he had to say:
Actually, it was myself and Neil Konzen at four in the morning with this prototype IBM PC sitting in this small room. IBM insisted that we had to have a lock on the door and we only had this closet that had a lock on it, so we had to do all our development in there and it was always over 100 degrees, but we wrote late at night a little application to show what the Basic built into the IBM PC could do. And so that was Donkey.bas. It was at the time very thrilling.
The first version of DONKEY.BAS was released in 1981. To showcase its new .NET platform and Visual Basic .NET programming language, Microsoft created a game named DONKEY.NET in 2001. It was a three dimensional game that aimed to hit donkeys. donkey.net bill gates game
If you are ready to go down the memory lane, here’s the link to play the game right now.
This simulation runs at 64Kb of RAM, a CGA display, and a clock speed of 4.77MHz–the original configuration of IBM PC Model 5150.