WHERE ARE THEY NOW? What happened to the people in Microsoft's iconic 1978 company photo


Microsoft

It's one of the most iconic photos in American business.

A ragtag group assembled for a family portrait in Albuquerque.

If you see it on Facebook or LinkedIn, there's usually a question above the photo: "Would you have invested?"

It's a trick question. You're supposed to answer no - because, well, look at those people - but then you learn it's a company portrait of Microsoft from 1978.

Early employee Bob Greenberg, pictured in the middle, won a free portrait after calling in to a radio show and guessing the name of an assassinated president. The gang reluctantly gathered together in some of their finest attire, and an American business legend was made.

We all know what happened with the two guys in the bottom left and bottom right corners - Bill Gates and Paul Allen, who both became billionaire philanthropists and tycoons. But what about the rest, many of whom became millionaires in their own right?

In the wake of Paul Allen's untimely death at age 65 in October 2018, we thought it would be a good time to take another look back.

This is an update of a post originally written by Jay Yarow in 2011.

Business Insider, Microsoft

We all know what happened with this guy. Bill Gates founded and built Microsoft from nothing into the most valuable technology company in the world. Along the way, he became the second richest man in the world, and is now giving is fortune away to all kinds of good causes.

Business Insider, Microsoft

Andrea Lewis was the only person at the company from Albuquerque. She was a technical writer for Microsoft, which means she wrote documents explaining Microsoft's software. She left Microsoft in 1983, eventually becoming a freelance journalist and fiction writer. She co-owns the Hugo House, a literary center in Seattle.

Business Insider, Microsoft

Maria Wood was a bookkeeper for Microsoft and married to another one of the early employees in the picture. She left the company just two years later, suing it over sex discrimination. Microsoft settled the case. After that, she vanished from the public eye, raising her children and volunteering for good causes.

Business Insider, Microsoft

Paul Allen, the other Microsoft cofounder, passed away in October 2018 after a battle with cancer.

After Bill Gates, Allen was the most famous guy in the group. He was the 44th richest person in the world according to Forbes. He owned the Portland Trailblazers, the Seattle Seahawks, one of the biggest yachts in the world, and much more. Plus, he was a major philanthropist, giving away billions to charitable causes.

Business Insider, Microsoft

Bob O'Rear was one of the oldest employees at Microsoft. He was at NASA in Mission Control when we landed on the moon. At Microsoft he was a chief mathematician, and he's credited with reworking code in DOS and getting it onto IBM PCs. He left the company in 1993, moved back to his home state of Texas, and got into cattle ranching.

Business Insider, Microsoft

Bob Greenberg was the guy who won a radio call-in contest to get the photo. He left Microsoft in 1981, after helping the company develop a new version of the programming language BASIC. He went on to help his family's company, Coleco, develop the Cabbage Patch Kid dolls, which became a huge hit. As of 2008, he's said to have been working on golf course software.

Business Insider, Microsoft

Marc McDonald was the first salaried employee. He left in 1984 because he didn't like how big the company was getting. After leaving Microsoft, he went to another Paul Allen-led company, Asymetrix. He then went to the Seattle software company Design Intelligence, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2000 - so he ended up back at Microsoft. In 2011, he left Microsoft for the second time, and worked at advertising startup PaperG until 2016.

Business Insider, Microsoft

Gordon Letwin was with the company until 1993, the second-longest run of all the employees pictured. (Gates is first.) He was a programmer at Microsoft, and he quit when he wanted a break from the grind of the company. He was a millionaire by the time he left Microsoft. Now Letwin has a ranch in Arizona and runs the environmental charity Wilburforce Foundation with his wife, Rose.

Business Insider, Microsoft

Steve Wood is the husband of Maria Wood, also in this photo, who eventually left Microsoft and sued it over sex discrimination. Steve left in 1980, but worked with Paul Allen on a few companies afterward - including web development company Starwave, which was ultimately sold to Disney.

Business Insider, Microsoft

It seems Bob Wallace was one of the most far-out early Microsoft employees. He spent time and money researching psychedelic drugs after leaving the company. He also founded a software company called Quicksoft. He died in 2002 from pneumonia.

Business Insider, Microsoft

Jim Lane was a project manager who left in 1985. Legend has it that he announced his departure by saying that Microsoft "beat the enthusiasm out of me." He went on to start his own software company. At Microsoft, he helped create the company's crucial partnership with Intel, which played a huge role in the company's ability to dominate the PC industry.

Microsoft
Microsoft
Microsoft
Bill Gates/Reddit