Steven Levy

A Big Birthday For Bill &Amp; Co.

Twenty-five years ago, Harvard sophomore Bill Gates and his buddy from high school Paul Allen saw a magazine article about the first personal computer and immediately began a two-person company to write software for it. "At one point Bill said to me, 'What do you think we should call it?' " recalls Allen. "I said, 'Well, the obvious name is Microsoft.' And Bill said, 'OK, fine'."You might have heard of it.

The Book On The Future

The publishers say that Stephen King can do this only because he's Stephen King," says the writer in question. "Well, that's crap."These are not words that publishers long to hear.

Thinking Inside The Box

I really do think people judge a book by its cover," says Steve Jobs. The CEO of Apple Computer, decked out in his usual office garb of hiking shorts, black turtleneck and sandals, gazes lovingly at his latest creation, an eight-inch cube suspended in a clear plastic shell.

Know When To Fold 'Em, Bill

Why was Bill Gates smiling? During his press conference attacking the district court's Final Judgment to split his company--as if his $360 billion software empire were a chicken breast on a butcher block--the Windows King sported the same goofy half-grin that he wore when he dressed up like a "Riverdance" hoofer in a corporate video.

The Book On E-Publishing

While music execs try to cope with online distribution, their counterparts in the book world are well aware that they're next. Oddly, the unmistakable milestone in digital publishing—Stephen King's "Riding the Bullet," an original e-book creation downloaded free or at nominal cost by 400,000 readers in two days—gave some comfort to those who dreaded the future.

The Noisy War Over Napster

Meet the Napster Generation. Rachel is 14, an eight grader in Potomac, Md., who loves lacrosse, basketball and guitar. Listens to 'N Sync. Like millions of her peers with a computer and a clue, she's been using a program called Napster to download free music from the Internet, "because teenagers don't have that much money," she says.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

The message on my voice mail was brisk and cheerful with undertones of urgency -- and unmistakable. "Hi, it's Steve Jobs!" How naive of me to assume that my evaluation of a collection of Apple Computer's recent products might slip beneath the radar of its "iCEO," the prodigal cofounder who has miraculously restored the company and its products to respectability and coolness.

Joel Klein, Entrepreneur

Who knew that Joel Klein was a closet venture capitalist? Most of us thought that during the past few years Janet Reno's antitrust czar and his prosecution team were turned on by lawyerlike stuff like consent decrees, special masters and making Bill Gates's lawyers look like crash dummies in court.

Microsoft's Crapshoot

March went out like a lion for Bill Gates. The kind that eats billionaire gladiators. Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect spent the month's final days on one of his famous "Think Weeks," where he heads to his waterside vacation home with boxes of technical documents and lists of geeky Web-site URLs.

Getting Real About A Deal

After three years of investigation, over a year of a contentious trial, a Bill Gates deposition from hell, enough documents to fill a music pirate's hard drive and more than enough punditry to fill up a year's worth of dot-com ad-heavy magazines, the epic clash between Microsoft and the Department of Justice has come to this: pay attention to the man behind the curtain.

The Great Amazon Patent Debate

You might think that Jeff Bezos would be on top of the world. The company he founded,, is sitting pretty on top of the e-commerce food chain. In an age consumed with millionaires, his stash can be measured in billions.

Hunting The Hackers

In A Flash, Some Of The Giants Of E-Commerce Were Shut Down By A Torrent Of Bits Sent By Hostile Invaders. The Attacks Were A Wake-Up Call To The Fragility Of The Net And Kicked Off A Worldwide Dragnet In Search Of The Cyberperps.

The Two Big Bets

It had already been a crazy week on planet Internet: digital upstart America Online had snapped up Batman, Sports Illustrated and 13 million cable homes while barely wrinkling its corporate chinos.

It's Time To Turn The Last Page

No one is calling the 1900s the Century of the Book. But you could make a case for it. For most of those years, the heavy hitters in our culture landed their big punches between the covers of bound boards: Joyce, Freud, Proust, Salinger, Orwell...

Judging Jackson By His Actions

Just as Microsoft seems in denial about its past, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson appears to be in denial about its future. True, in his 207-page "Findings of Fact," the judge in the Microsoft antitrust suit compellingly verifies the government's key charge that the company overstepped its bounds in forcibly enlisting its captive business allies to defend its turf. (Microsoft insists its behavior was exemplary.) But not all of the judge's ruling deals in fact.

Bill Takes It On The Chin

Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson had let it be known that it would be late on a Friday afternoon--after Wall Street shut down for the weekend-- when he would finally break his silence on the biggest antitrust showdown in the digital age.

Learning To Love Crypto

Though Bill Clinton and Al Gore have consistently presented themselves as champions of the cyber age, they have consistently battled against one aspect of the digital revolution: the spread of encryption software.

Wired For The Bottom Line

Jeff Bezos's e-commerce vision materialized during a cross-country ride in a hand-me-down Chevy Blazer. Meg Whitman's light bulb flicked on when she heard a woman whose life had been changed by selling China horses.

Behind The Gates Myth

"She's a little redhead with brown eyes, the happiest person I've ever met. Everything she does is just so fascinating. Just getting up in the morning... 'Dah-dee, can I get up now?' So I go in and pick her up.

Apple?S Ibook: A Mac To Go

Pick it up!" says Steve Jobs. "Let's go for a walk!" It's a few days before Apple's charismatic interim CEO will introduce his new object of desire, the iBook, to the world, and he's thrilled to air out the distinctive, clam-shaped consumer laptop.

Go West, Young Geek

Redmond or Silicon Valley? Like other litmus questions ("Betty or Veronica?" "John or Paul?"), this has long been a dilemma for the best and the brightest in the high-tech world.

The Roots Of Genius?

Albert Einstein's death, in 1955, hasn't stopped his brain from leading a lively existence. Its visit to McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, has led to an article in the June 19 Lancet (a British medical journal) affirming that maybe, just maybe, the secrets of relativity were due in part to unusual development of a lobe known for mathematical thought.

The New Digital Galaxy

Gleaming black boxes aren't necessarily out of place at Silicon Valley product introductions. But this particular onstage presence was a surprising visitor at the unveiling of Sun Microsystems' software glue for the next century's computing devices.