Category: Computing

The History of Microsoft: How They Became a Software Giant

In 1975, Albuquerque, New Mexico, a beautiful plan was hatched. Nobody could have predicted just how unbelievably world-changing this plan would be, least of all the man with the plan himself –Mr Bill Gates. Now, you may have already guessed what this ‘plan’ of his became (or maybe you just read the title of the article). Well, either way, sit yourself back down and strap yourself in because we are about to go a whirlwind of a journey to find out how two college kids somehow managed to become the founders of one of the most important and successful technology companies in history.

The Man

Growing up a scrawny kid in Seattle, Gates often found himself the target of childhood bullies. A serious blow to his confidence, he struggled to defend himself and in turn began to doubt his abilities. The bullying also wound up having a serious knock-on effect with regards to his social life. Much to the frustration of his mother, Gates didn’t want to go outside and play like the other kids. Instead, he much preferred his own company and would spend an awful lot of time locked in his room “thinking”.

However, depressing as it may seem, all that time Gates spent “thinking” clearly paid off as before he reached his teenage years, he had already designed his first-ever software programme. Not one to give up on his passion, throughout high school, Gates spent a lot of his time homing in his craft and finding out everything he could about computers and their software. He developed a knack for them and began writing more software codes and programming throughout his time in school.

But he didn’t always use his technological powers for good, in high school, after being caught hacking a software with some of his nerd buddies to get free computer time, Gates and the rest of his makeshift crime ring found themselves stuck with a gut-wrenching summer-long ban from one of the computers systems. But, Gates sensed an opportunity and sought to rectify the situation. Using his bargaining skills, he managed to convince that same company to give him and his friends a job in return for free computer time.

Shortly before their senior year, on what Bill Gates described as “one of the saddest days” of his life, his best friend and first business partner, Kent Evans, died suddenly in a freak accident. After this, Gates continued his computer-related ventures, and after receiving an unbelievable score of 1590 out of 1600 in his SATs, he found his way onto a very famous campus. Now a student at Harvard, Gates realised he no longer had a plan of action and after spending his days unengaged with the degree he was there to study, he reached an impasse. So, he took a massive risk and made the decision to drop out of school, determined to start his own company.

Microsoft

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Gates knew the only way to get their voices heard was to send ripples all the way to the top of the technological industries. And what’s the best way to do that? Well, according to Gates, it’s by telling a big white lie. So, despite what he learned from his mother, Gates wrote to tech mogul MITS, constructing a wonderfully weaved lie. So clever, in fact, even his extremely religious grandmother would have been impressed (on the inside at least). He claimed himself and Allen had been working on software so unbelievably and mathematically phenomenal, it would blow the company’s minds. They told them it was designed to work in perfect harmony with their pre-existing systems to make their great software even greater.

But the kicker to all this, is that in reality, Gates and Allen had done a big fat nothing. Somehow, despite this, the two of them managed to worm their way into an opportunity to actually develop something for the company as a test. Maybe it was the universe’s way of apologising for sending a tornado to damage his family home in his early childhood,  but by some miracle, two kids, a 20-year old college drop-out and his friend, managed to sign a deal with one of the biggest tech companies of the time.

And thus, Microsoft was born.

What then?

Well, the journey from that pivotal moment to Microsoft becoming one of the biggest tech companies in the world certainly wasn’t easy. Not long after the deal was signed, the software they had developed was being leaked, causing great losses to the company. Not wanting to make that same mistake again, Bill vowed to never make any big decisions in business without having business insurance to cover his losses, searching all over the country (even as far as Canada) to find the best insurance policy to cover the company.

After years of rising through the ranks of the company, Gates never lost sight of his true passion – coding. Despite now being one of the richest men alive, literally able to afford to hire somebody to do any sort of menial task for him, he still likes to find time to code. In his spare time, he even revisits old coding patterns to see if there are ways to improve them. Even his wife has grown sick of the sound of his keyboard clicking. But its this dedication to his craft and his determination to succeed that made sure Microsoft became the software giant it is today.

A Comparison of the Best Video Codecs

A codec is at the core of processing digital video. A video codec essentially compresses the video signal from a camera’s sensor into a manageable file size then decompresses it on a computer for viewing and editing. There are many different video codecs you can use.

H.264

H.264 is a digital video compression format that only uses half the storage space of the DVD standard, which is MPEG-2 to deliver the same quality of video. This is one of the most popular standards of codec, with up to 8K resolution, without sacrificing processing power. A ten second clip in 4K on H.264 is fifteen megabytes. Albeit, some would argue H.24 isn’t the best quality for editing videos using software such as Adobe After Effects and compresses the data too much. Therefore H.264 is primarily used in files required to be of small size, albeit generally used as lossy, is can also be lossless but it’s not the most efficient codec for lossless video. Also H.264 supports the containers MP4, MKV, 3GP and FLV. YouTube converts all uploads to H.264 so it’s compressed to a small size for upload. If you plan on uploading any YouTube videos and would like to get popular, I simply buy views for my videos from places like Marketing Heaven.

MPEG Codecs

There are multiple MPEG codecs, as mentioned before, MPEG-2 is the standard for DVD. MPEG-2 supports interlacing, which increases motion perceived by the person watching the video, increasing the frame rate without the data consumption.  MPEG-2 is lossless, hence why it’s used for DVD’s and Blu-rays for high quality video. MPEG-1 and MPEG-4 are lossy and MPEG-1 is used in DVD discs with less space and MPEG-4, which is a less advanced H.264 supports the containers MP4, AVI and MKV.

H.265 or High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC)

High efficiency video coding is an updated version of H.264 and will eventually become the new standard of codec for streaming, with the rise of 4K video and 4K Blu-ray. It can have twice the compression efficiency of H.264, while maintaining quality. With many homes now having 4K resolution televisions and being able to stream 4K on applications and services such as Netflix & Apple TV, also with YouTube now supporting 4K video, many of these services will start streaming H.265 video, albeit it’s not quite hit the mainstream just yet.

DNxHD

The previous mentioned codecs are most suitable for transferring video to a DVD disc, Blu-ray or to upload onto video sharing websites such as YouTube but aren’t generally used for editing due to wanting the best quality while editing videos. DNxHD file sizes are large but the quality is at it’s maximum, making it ideal for tweaking in programs such as Final X Pro. The advantages over editing with DNxHD than an uncompressed file is that it uses less CPU overhead, for faster editing and rendering.