Return of the ’70s Weirdos

That photo of 11 weirdos in '70s clothes you may have seen on the Internet really is the original Microsoft team, snapped Dec. 7, 1978, on the eve of the company's move from Albuquerque, N.M., to Seattle. Almost 30 years later, a few weeks before Bill Gates's departure from Microsoft, the group (looking better) reconvened.

Bob Greenberg (center of old photo, in red sweater), then a programmer and now a tech and financial consultant, had won a photo portrait in a contest and used it to commemorate the soon-to-be disrupted group. The picture was shot in a shopping mall.

"The photo really does capture a moment of time and the spirit we had in the office," says cofounder Paul Allen (bottom right), now a media and sports mogul. Signing up for a little company in the then unknown field of PC software was a crazy leap of faith. "I could have had an office and a title from a respectable company—but I thought this would take off," says programmer Gordon Letwin (second row, right). He stuck around Microsoft until taking leave in 1993. Bob O'Rear (second row left, above Gates), the most experienced of the group (he'd been a NASA engineer, now he's a cattle rancher), concurs—sort of. "My concept of success for us was that someday we'd have 40 people or so."

Present for the reunion was office manager Miriam Lubow (center of new picture), who missed the original sitting due to a snowstorm. (When Lubow, now retired, first met Gates, she couldn't believe that disheveled kid was the president.) Absent for the reshoot was Bob Wallace (top center), who died in 2002; after leaving Microsoft in 1983, he pioneered the idea of shareware.

Though the meeting could have been tense—some in the group have many millions of dollars, others … not so much—it was joyous from the first. Steve Wood (top left), whose wife, Marla (third from left, bottom), was also an employee (he is now chairman of a telecom company; she does volunteer work), says that the photo isn't their legacy: "Our legacy is what we did."

Join the Discussion