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Who is Kazuhiko Nishi and what did he contribute to technology?

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Walter Fischer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Kazuhiko Nishi is a Japanese entrepreneur and was one of the pioneers of personal computing, teaming with the then-22-year-old Bill Gates in an across-the-Pacific partnership that was instrumental in building Microsoft into one of the most successful companies in history.  As with Gates, Nishi was fascinated with the idea of personal computing as a college student and dropped out of school to pursue that passion full-time.  Whereas Gates would be a more disciplined, structured businessman, however, Nishi was erratic and occasionally abrasive.  Before their partnership was acrimoniously dissolved in 1986, Nishi’s Japan-based ASCII and Gates’ Microsoft succeeded in making deals with major electronics companies like NEC, Fujitsu and, most importantly, IBM that involved embedding their software into the computers being designed by these large established manufacturers.  The result was the industry dominance that Microsoft has enjoyed ever since.  Nishi’s erratic behavior and questionable business decisions, however, left him heavily in-debt to Microsoft and Gates dissolved the partnership.  While the partnership ended on less-than-pleasant terms, Gates acknowledges his former partner’s contribution to the development of the personal computer industry.  A 1986 Wall Street Journal article, the link to which is provided below, quoted a former ASCII employee who switched to Microsoft following the split as noting this about his former boss:

“In the cowboy age, Billy the Kid can be a star.  But Microsoft became an army, and Kay (Kazuhiko’s nickname) was still playing Billy the Kid.  Kay’s not a general who can manage an army.”

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