50 years ago, on the 3rd of November, 1962; Gabe Logan Newell was born in the United States. At the age of 18, in 1980, he began studying at the highly prestigious Harvard University. Three years later, he dropped out of Harvard (just like the man who would soon be his boss, Bill Gates), and was hired by Steve Ballmer himself to work at Microsoft in November of 1983. As Microsoft’s 271st employee, he worked there for almost 13 years, and, among other things, served as lead developer and producer on the first three versions of Microsoft Windows (he was even involved with the infamous Microsoft Bob). Working at Microsoft was not only very lucrative, but also extremely productive for Gabe, who was at one point doing work on up to 30 Microsoft projects per year.
But after playing the original Doom, he realized that video games might just represent the future of entertainment as a whole; and that developing games was something he was very interested in doing. It so happened that Michael Abrash, a fellow Microsoft employee and a close friend of Gabe, left Microsoft around the same time to work at id Software, creators of Doom and Quake. This inspired Gabe to follow his dream, and as one of the 12,000 “Microsoft Millionaires”, he had the means to pursue that dream – a dream he shared with his close friend and colleague, Mike Harrington. The two both decided to leave Microsoft in June of 1996, and cashed in their Microsoft stock in order to establish their own games studio… yes, you guessed it: Valve Software. Believe it or not, the company’s formation papers were signed on the very same day Gabe was married, on the 24th of August, 1996 (coincidentally, the same day the original Team Fortress was released). And the rest is history.
These days, while Gabe has since become a billionaire and grown a bushy beard, he remains the president of Valve. And thanks to the sheer impact that its many games, projects, and endeavors have had on the gaming space and even popular culture; it’s becoming incredibly hard to imagine a world without Gabe Newell. The bold, innovative decisions that he has made at Valve have moved this industry forward in colossal ways, and the even greater number of things he’s made possible simply by founding Valve all those years ago, may have all radically affected the way we play games, the way games are made, and the way we interact with each other in this great big space.
Gabe Newell is, without a doubt, one of gaming’s greatest revolutionaries. And I do believe he’s only just getting started.