There is a story around that Bill Gates tampered with his school's (or college's) scheduling system to get in class with all the 'hot' girls.

Did this in fact happen?

References I've found:

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    Does someone have access to his autobiography "Hard Drive"? Apparently it answers this question.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 14:59
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    Seems unlikely. Gates' would have been 14 (high school age) in 1969. A small computer -- the Data General Nova -- was the size of a household refrigerator and cost $8,000. It is possible a high school might have had one... but access was likely restricted to terminals hard wired to the computer. Telephone modems and portable terminals existed, but were slow, like ~ 100-300 bits per second. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Gates en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Paul
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 23:39
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    @Paul: apparently his autobiography explains he was hired by the school to program their DEC's scheduling tool.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 23:42
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    @jwenting You would be surprised, a lot of the biographies and other books about early tech leaders indicate that they generally had unsupervised access once people trusted them. Plus, at the time, most people wouldn't necessarily know what someone was doing on a computer anyway.
    – rjzii
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 11:26
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    @jwenting programmers today still complain their managers have no idea what programming looks like, do you really think 40 years ago someone overseeing him would have known the difference as long as an acceptable output happened.
    – Ryathal
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 12:32

1 Answer 1


The story with regards Bill Gates scheduling classes is true, although if this would be considered "tampering" is best left to the reader. According to Bill Gates, he actually wrote a computerized class scheduler for Lackside School in which he included an extra feature,

Of course, a whole new dimension of relevance came when I was asked to do a computerized class schedule for the high school.

It was complex, but ultimately very rewarding. By the time I was done, I found that I had no classes at all on Fridays. And even better, there was a disproportionate number of interesting girls in all my classes.

This is also corroborated in an interview with the BBC. According to a Wired time line on Bill Gates, this took place in 1971 so he would have been 15 to 16 years old at the time and was already engaged in quite a bit of work at the time that he was being paid for as well.

In one sense the undocumented feature that he added could be considered anything ranging from an Easter egg to a backdoor. However, since he was asked to write the software it wasn't tampering per se even though it is against the code of ethics of most professional societies.

  • 1
    Thanks for digging this up, I looked and was unable to find this information on the internet :) Always knew deep in my heart that Bill was a player. Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 15:23
  • If tampering is not an accurate description of what he did, then the answer is no, not yes and no.
    – user5582
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 18:21
  • 6
    @Sancho: It's a matter of definition. This answer explains the full situation, so the reader can determine. This is far more useful than a simple "yes" or "no" as you seem to be requesting. See the definition of tamper, and you will see that Gates's activities can be considered tampering--or not.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 18:52
  • I'm not asking rob to remove the full explanation, but to better describe whether the literal answer is yes or no. I like his most recent edit.
    – user5582
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 19:34
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    @Sancho This is where I'm going to neatly side-step the tampering aspect of question since the story as a whole is true even though the ethics of it (and therefore the question of tampering) are debatable.
    – rjzii
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 19:34

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