Seven years ago, Google launched Gmail. They did it in a way that no one else had ever done it before: they offered two whole gigabytes of space. Bill Gates couldn’t understand the whole thing worked.
Many people jumped onboard, signing up, and even developers took advantage, launching Gmail Drive. The extension, which turned Google accounts into a virtual file system, let users use the e-mail account as file storage.
Writer Steven Levy documents the Gates’ reaction in his new book, In The Plex, which tells the story of how Google came to be. It shows the Microsoft founder struggling to come to terms with the concept.
“How could you need more than a gig?” the Microsoft co-founder asked, according to Levy. “What’ve you got in there? Movies? Power-Point presentations?”
Gates proceeded to pepper Levy with questions. “How many messages are there?” he asked, Levy recalls. “Seriously, I’m trying to understand whether it’s the number of messages or the size of messages.” Levy writes, “After doing the math in his head, he came to the conclusion that Google was doing something wrong.”
These days, I wonder what Bill thinks. It’s got seven gigabytes of space now.
(via Huffington Post)
More on TIME.com: