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Fire in the Valley, 3rd Edition by Paul Freiberger, Michael Swaine

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Amateurs and Professionals

It was an unusual organization in that it really did believe in high-intensity, enthusiastic amateurs.

–Bruce Van Natta, IMSAI cofounder

Bill Millard was a magnetic role model to the IMSAI executives, and through them he set a singular tone for the company. Millard did not hire hobbyists, but he did hire enthusiastic amateurs. His personality and goals became the corporate personality and the company’s goals, so much so that Millard’s decision-making style steered IMSAI even when he wasn’t around, as happened during some rocky times in the company’s history when top-level decisions were critical.

Unlike Ed Roberts at MITS and many others, Millard was not particularly fascinated by hardware. Roberts was a true ...

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