Not after seeing the play FIRST, written by Evelyn Jean Pine and directed by Michael French, which just debuted in San Francisco at Stage Werx about the seminal moment in Bill Gates's 20-year-old life when he decides to quit Harvard and also antagonize home computer users by denouncing free software as piracy at the first Altair Computer Conference organized by tech publisher David Bunnell in 1976.
According to the single-minded college drop-out who would go on to become the planet's wealthiest philanthropist, anyone who didn't pay for using his BASIC software on the Altair, the first home computer, was a thief. Ironically, when confronted by a bill collector from Harvard with a $40,000 charge for use of the school's PDP computer to write BASIC, Gates refuses to pay.
The play captures Gates's epiphanal moment, when egged on by Valentine Smith, a Richard Stallman-predecessor who argues that software like ideas should be free, he realizes that not only can he earn gobs of cash by selling his software, he can also control the world...if his software is FIRST. Although the play doesn't really explain how Gates got this vision, he understands that the future lies in personal computing.
Plenty of hilarious dialog in this short play, written by someone who knows her code as well as her characters. The actor who plays Gates, Jeremy Kahn, is a dead ringer, hunching his slim shoulders and halting in his speech as if processing information like a computer on punch cards before responding to other characters, including a waitress, the Harvard bill collector, and an IBM executive who undergoes his own transformation after taking drugs on a reservation outside the Albuquerque conference.
Actually, at age 20, most people aren't what they later become, so perhaps there's a chance that Gates might be next in line for an Isaacson bio.