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The Astrodyne Micro with cassette tape storage, retailing for $499.99, the same price in 1973 as it was in 1993 and 2013, even as the Micro continued to improve.

Robyn and Lilith returned to Earth via Nath and Hamar when Robyn was only a few weeks away from delivering her baby. They leased offices on the eighth floor of a building in Bellevue, Washington and advertised an opening for someone who could program the new eight-bit "computer on a chip" produced by Intel. Most of the prospective programmers turned around and walked out of the interview room when they saw they were dealing with two women.

Mark Felton had just graduated the University of Washington. He thought the world of women and was more far interested in a job than maintaining any stupid "boys club" tradition. Paul Allen was in his third year at Wazoo for a computer science major and his pal Bill Gates was still a sen- ior in high school. The two of them were pretty ambitious and even started a company to analyze traffic patterns so government agencies could issue reports, but the federal government was now offering the same service for no charge, so Traf-O-Data was going out of business. They needed the work.

On the final day of interviews Robyn sat quietly in a corner of the office while Lilith questioned Allen, Gates, and Felton, in that order. When it was Felton's turn, Lilith gave the same introductory spiel she had given the Traf-O-Data boys. This is the Astrodynamics Corporation and we are interested in manufacturing a single-board microcomputer. In fact, we're calling it a Micro. It's going to retail for $500, and that's set in stone. We're looking for a programmer to develop the operating system for the Micro, which we're going to call Budget Operating System Software, or BOSS. The hardware doesn't exist yet, so you will need to be able to work with our engineer to settle on a final design. The problem we have right now is the 8008 only has fourteen address bits, so we're stuck at 16K of memory, tops. That might sound like a lot right now, but we're thinking long term. Do you know how we might solve that issue?

Simple. You just have two 8008's going at the same time, one runs BOSS in ROM and handles all your keyboard inputs, video out, and flips 16K banks of RAM in and out when the user's program calls for more memory. Theoretically that would give you up to 256 megabytes of RAM, which is insane,

Well, see, you're not really impressing me right now, Mr. Felton, because the 8008 costs three hundred sixty dollars, so two of them put us in the hole right away. The $500 price point I gave for the Micro is firm.

The first run of chips are in that range, sure, but put in a big enough buy order I betcha Intel brings it down to $150.

Touche. I'd like to discuss this with my friend for a bit, Mr. Felton so if you'll wait outside, I think we can give you an answer quickly.

Mark shrugged and got up to leave. Robyn said, I like that guy.

What about the Gates and Allen show? Traf-O-Data.

Paul Allen is okay, Robyn said. He knows the chip well enough to have written a complete simulator for the PDP-10, so we can get started before our hardware is ready, and Gates writes tight code, but he's obsessed with using BASIC to run everything on the Micro. That might make it easy for people to program, but it's gonna be too slow. And Gates doesn't seem to get the concept of money. He ran up a lot of computer time having big iron play tic-tac-toe against itself, and sent the bill to his daddy. And he sure didn't like the name Budget Operating System Software.

What do your enhanced instincts tell you?

Gates and Allen already started one company on their own. I'm not seeing either one of them still working for us in 1975, so I figure they're going to take our ideas and try to compete against us. But Mark Felton is in for the long haul. He's the adult in the room. I say we go with him.'

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