A look at Microsoft's first 11 employees

On Dec. 7, 1978, the entire work force of Microsoft Corp. got together for a group photo prior to moving the company from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the Seattle area.

Of those 11 people, only one, chairman Bill Gates, is still with Microsoft. The rest went on to a variety of activities from cattle ranching to professional philanthropy. Many are still involved in high-tech ventures.

Despite the wildfire growth of Microsoft these past 25 years, only one other person in the photo, cofounder Paul Allen, is a billionaire. Most of the others became millionaires, however, as the stock options they received from Microsoft grew more valuable over the past 25 years.

Gates, of course, stayed with the company, while Allen left in 1983 after a successful battle with Hodgkin's disease. He remains on Microsoft's board of directors and has a variety of high-tech and cable TV investments. Allen also owns the NFL's Seattle Seahawks and the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers and recently bought The Sporting News, the nation's oldest sporting publication.

Here's a look at what became of the rest of Microsoft's work force, circa 1978

Bob Greenberg:
Unlike most of Microsoft's other employees, Bob Greenberg didn't necessarily need the wealth that the company would potentially bring, his family helped develop the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls that were all the craze in the 1980s.

Greenberg worked at Microsoft from 1977 to 1981, developing BASIC programming language. Today, Greenberg, whose wealth was recently estimated at $20 million, develops software for golf courses. He reportedly has homes in southern California, Connecticut and Florida.

Jim Lane
Jim Lane moved to Albuquerque from the Denver area in 1978 to join the fledgling Microsoft. Lane, a key project manager, was responsible for developing software for Intel's microprocessors, forging a partnership between Microsoft and the chip giant that came to be called "Wintel" for its ubiquity.

He left in 1985, saying at the time that "they beat the enthusiasm out of me." Today, Lane runs his own software company and consultancy and lives in a high-end neighborhood on Mercer Island, Washington, with his wife and three children. His personal wealth has been estimated at $20 million.

Gordon Letwin
Aside from Gates, Gordon Letwin had the longest tenure at Microsoft of any of the class of 1978. He developed a compiler for the BASIC computer language, a software tool that translated the programmer's code into commands that the computer hardware could understand.

Through the 1980s, Letwin was put in charge of a variety of projects, including development for the now-defunct OS/2 operating system. Gates called Letwin as good a programmer as himself.

Letwin took indefinite leave from the company in 1993 to, as he said at the time, "kick back with my wife." He lives in the Seattle area and has a ranch in Arizona. Letwin, worth about $20 million, has given substantially to environmental causes.

Andrea Lewis
When you write software, you need documentation to help make sense of it. Andrea Lewis was Microsoft's first technical writer, hired in 1978 to provide all the documentation necessary for the company's products.

After leaving the company in 1983 with two years of options worth about $2 million today, she became a freelance journalist and fiction writer. She lives in Seattle with her husband and two children.

Lewis recently helped build a literary centre in the former Seattle home of poet Richard Hugo.

Marc McDonald
Marc McDonald has the distinction of being Microsoft's first full-time employee, brought on in 1977 to work on the BASIC programming language. McDonald left Microsoft in 1984, reportedly unhappy with the changing corporate culture. He then became the first person hired by Paul Allen for a new company, Asymetrix Corp. in nearby Bellevue.

Today, McDonald, who once said he was worth "less than $1 million" is the chief software scientist with Design Intelligence, a Seattle-based software startup company.

Bob O'Rear
Of all the people who joined Microsoft in the early days, Bob O'Rear was the oldest and most experienced. He had advanced degrees in mathematics and astrophysics, and had been present in the control room at NASA's Mission Control during the first moon landing in 1969.

He joined Microsoft as its chief mathematician and employee No. 7 in 1977, and helped bring the BASIC programming language to many different kinds of computers. O'Rear, now 59, left in 1983.

Today he runs a cattle ranch in his native Texas and also serves on the boards of several high-tech firms. He is said to be worth $100 million.

Bob Wallace
Bob Wallace, a graduate of the University of Washington, joined Microsoft as a production manager and software designer in 1978. He left in 1983 to form QuickSoft, another software company in nearby Bellevue, Washington, which later went out of business.

A BBC documentary made in 1995 featured Wallace as someone whose vision and achievements as a software pioneer were aided by the use of psychedelic drugs. Media reports have pegged his wealth at about $5 million. Died October 2002 at 53.

Steve and Marla Wood
Steve Wood was one of Microsoft's programmers in the early days. His wife, Marla, was an administrative assistant and bookkeeper. The two left the company in 1980 after Marla Wood led the company's female workers in a sex discrimination complaint against the company, which Microsoft later settled. They were the first of these 11 to leave the company.

Steve Wood worked with Allen on a number of ventures in the 1980s, and today runs Wireless Corp., which provides Internet access software and services to cellular phones. Marla Wood became a "professional volunteer" and cares for the couple's two children. They live in Bellevue, Washington, and are said to be worth a combined $15 million.
(Agencies)