What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

In 1983 I was working for a small company making microprocessor-based data entry terminals. I’ve often referred to it as being on a “reverse growth” trajectory.

When I started they were 25 employees strong. When I left there were 5. When I started I was the latest addition to the three person software department. When I left, I was the software department. (And, no, it wasn’t me, I swear!)

You get the idea. The writing was on the wall well before I left, so I’d started keeping my eyes peeled. And I encountered an advertisement in the local paper.

A small-ish company on Seattle’s eastside was advertising for software engineers. I’d heard of them, having actually used some of their software in the recent past, and decided to give it a shot. I sent them a cover letter and my resume.

My thinking was simple: “What’s the worst that could happen?” They’d ignore me. Or perhaps even worse, they’d respond and I’d have to make a decision!

Well, they responded. So I responded to that, they responded again, I interviewed, they called me back, I interviewed again.

And finally, they offered. My “worst fears” had come true: I had to make a decision.

So, in May of 1983 I made the decision to go work for that “small-ish” company — Microsoft — then 365 employees strong, and certainly “small” compared to the big employers in the area.

I’m so, so grateful that I did. Microsoft was the perfect place for me at that time in my life. Microsoft grew as a company, I grew as an engineer. Microsoft prospered, I prospered.

I still consider the years that I was there (1983-2001) as Microsoft’s “golden age” because its participation in those years was so instrumental in creating much of what we now take for granted. My individual lines of code — the software that I actually wrote — is likely long gone from anything available today, but the change that I was a part of, and the change that I witnessed, continues.

I’m so incredibly grateful to have been part of it.


Check out How it began … and ended if you’re curious as to what 1983 resumes, interview loops, and offer letters looked like. 🙂