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History Book: Bill Gates unveils Microsoft Windows

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WORLD Radio - History Book: Bill Gates unveils Microsoft Windows

Plus, a missionary to Pacific islanders and the War Powers Act turns 50


Microsoft founder Bill Gates Associated Press/Photo by Justin Tallis/Pool Photo, File

JENNY ROUGH, HOST: Today is Monday, November 6th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Jenny Rough.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Up next, the WORLD History Book. This week, Microsoft joins future tech giants in the up and coming world of personal computers. Plus, fifty years ago, Congress limits the war powers of the president. But first, a Scottish missionary brings the gospel to faraway islands.

Here’s WORLD Radio intern, Emma Perley.

EMMA PERLEY, INTERN: In the book of Acts, Christ teaches that Christians are a light for the Gentiles, bringing salvation to the ends of the earth. And one of Scotland’s most effective missionaries, John Paton, took this charge to heart.

IAN HAMILTON: He went every Sabbath day to hear the Word of God, that there were places untouched, not just by civilization, as we would call it, but untouched by the glorious gospel of the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

Pastor Ian Hamilton reflecting on Paton’s life at a 2022 conference. John Paton was born in 1824 in a small Scottish village. At 12 years old, he attends a local school and learns his father’s trade. While studying the Bible, he finds a verse that inspires his life’s work.

HAMILTON: The words of Psalm 74 Verse 20, indelibly, were etched into his mind and heart. “The dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.”

Paton is later ordained and marries a young woman named Mary. They immediately begin a four month journey to New Hebrides in the South Pacific Ocean. On November 5th, 1858, the Patons land on the island of Tanna, now called Vanuatu. Friends warn them of the danger.

HAMILTON: An older minister said to Paton, ‘You'll be eaten by cannibals.’ And Paton responded, “Mr. Dixon, you're advanced in years, you will soon die, you'll be eaten by worms. And it doesn't really matter to me whether the worms get me or the cannibals.”

Far from being eaten by the cannibals, Paton wins many to the faith and plants a Reformed Presbyterian church on Aniwa island. He translates the New Testament into the Aniwa language and establishes an orphanage. Paton dies at age 83 in Australia, but his legacy lives on. Today, Christianity is the predominant religion in Vanuatu, and one third of the population are Presbyterian.

HAMILTON: He did not think he was an extraordinary Christian. He only did what God had called him to do, and what God calls every Christian to do: to take up their cross and follow Christ.

Next, 50 years ago this week, President Richard Nixon vetos a plan to limit the President’s ability to declare war. Audio here from NBC:

AUDIO: Congress is opposed to any more Vietnam adventures and wants a voice in setting foreign policy.

U.S. troops have been in Vietnam for 19 years…without an official declaration of war. And Congress has had enough. Representatives draft the War Powers Resolution, reinforcing Congress’s constitutional authority to declare war.

AUDIOThis lays down in policy, for the first time very clearly, that the president cannot by himself take this country to war and should not.

The resolution seeks to restrict the presidential office from engaging in unsanctioned conflict with other countries. But President Nixon opposes it. Audio once again from NBC:

AUDIO: Nixon, the president in question, vetoed the resolution, claiming it was dangerous and unconstitutional.

But Congress overrides his veto, and passes the War Powers Act. Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan have criticized the act since then, saying it unconstitutionally restricts presidential powers. Here’s Ford during an American Enterprise Institute forum in 1983.

FORD: I firmly believe as a practical matter, that the War Powers resolution, with all its requirements, handicaps a president.

Congress invoked the War Powers Act most recently in 2020, in order to limit President Donald Trump’s ability to approve airstrikes in Iran. Here’s then Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer in audio from CBS News:

SCHUMER: A bipartisan majority of senators don’t want the president waging war without congressional approval.

And finally, on November 10th, 1985, a new computer technology competitor emerges. Here’s Microsoft founder Bill Gates:

BILL GATES: And now, the retail package of Microsoft Windows. Thank you ladies and gentlemen! It’s here!

Users previously had to type out commands in code through a slow and clunky command-line interface. But Microsoft Windows 1 uses a graphical user interface, or GUI. Users interact through icons on the screen and can pull up more information with different windows and applications at once.

GATES: This really is a great product. We’ve put our hearts and souls into it.

Windows 1.0 is hot on the heels of the wildly successful Apple computer. But the company fumbles with its first two versions and can’t compete with Apple’s superior interface. Here’s Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in 1983:

STEVE JOBSApple II has become the world’s most popular computer, and Apple has grown to a 300 million dollar company, becoming the fastest growing corporation in American business history.

But in 1990, Microsoft has a breakthrough with Windows 3. Its intuitive ease of use makes it a serious competitor to Apple and the IBM personal computer. Audio here from CNBC:

AUDIO: Bill Gates, his vision was to put a PC on every desk, in every home. We’ve struck a chord with Windows, where people feel like it’s their product, it’s their system.

Microsoft goes on to become a hugely successful company, joining the ranks of Apple and IBM. And about 1.4 billion people use Windows operating systems around the globe today. 

That’s this week’s WORLD history book. I’m Emma Perley.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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