Trivia

Hard

Who Is The Person Behind The Generic Silhouette in Microsoft Outlook 2010’s Contacts?

Steve Balmer
Bill Gates
Eric Clapton
Steve Wozniak
Bill Gates' December 1977 mug shot next to the generic Outlook 2010 avatar.
Wikimedia/Public Domain

Answer: Bill Gates

It’s not much of a leap of imagination to guess that the generic silhouette in Microsoft Outlook 2010 (which stands in for contacts without a photo) just might be based off of Bill Gates, the company’s well-known founder.

The twist that makes this trivia interesting is that while the silhouette is modeled after Mr. Gates, it’s hardly based off of a nice studio portrait paid for by the company. Not even close—in fact, the photo was paid for by the taxpayers of Albuquerque, New Mexico way back in 1977.

A Microsoft designer with a prankster streak used a mug shot taken of Bill Gates in 1977 after his arrest in Albuquerque as the basis for the silhouette. What for you might ask? Young Mr. Gates had a lead foot and was prone to speeding, and sometimes forgot to carry his driver’s license with him. Such motorway antics landed him in the local slammer during the early years of Microsoft’s rise to fame and power. Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, even had to post Gates’ bail once.

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