William Henry Gates III, famously known as Bill Gates, was born in 1955 and raised in Seattle. William
Henry Gates II, Bill’s dad, was an attorney in Seatle. Henry was married to Mary Gates, who took
teaching as a career. In addition to teaching, Mary was the chairperson of the United Way Internation
and University of Washington regent.
Gates is famously known for his technological brilliance. He is the brain behind the world’s largest software business, Microsoft. This made him one of the richest people in the world.
In addition to that, Gates and his wife Melinda Gates opened the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where they give back to the community.
Bill Gates’s early life
Born on October 28th, 1995, in Seattle, Washington, Bill grew up in an upper-middle-class family. Kristianne is his older sister, and Libby is his younger sister. Bill was the second of the three children.
Bill Gate’s father, William, is a brilliant advocate. Gates followed his father’s footsteps as he always did well in school, especially in mathematics. He met Mary Maxwell, Bill Gates’s mother, at the University of Washington. Bill Gates’s mother was excellent in sports. She was active in leadership and student affairs.
Bill’s parents encourage their children to strive for excellence and be competitive continuously. Therefore, Bill Gates showed competitiveness in his early days of school. He engaged in athletic games and board games too. Bill’s favorite board game is Monopoly.
Mary Gates and Bill Gates shared a special bond. Mary set out time to raise donations for children. She also worked in civic affairs and charities. In addition to that, Mary Gates also served on several corporate boards. They included the First Interstate Bank in Seattle (founded by Mary Gates’s grandfather), International Business Machines (IBM), and the United Way. Bill Gates learned about gratitude and giving back to the community as Mary would take him along when she volunteered in schools and community organizations.
Bill spent many hours reading books such as the encyclopedia. When Bill was around 12 years old, his parents were concerned about him. Since Bill spends his time alone most of the time, his parents are worried that he may become a loner. Even though Bill did well in school, he would look bored from time to time.
Due to this concern, Bill’s parents enrolled him at Lakeside School. Bill Gates studied in a public school before this. He excelled tremendously in all subjects. Bill did well in science and math. Moreover, he also developed an interest in English and drama too.
A Seattle computer company offered to provide computer classes for students at Lakeside School. Bill Gates got curious about all that a computer can do. He later spent his free time working in the labs.
Gates later set up a tic-tac-toe program in BASIC computer language. This allowed users to play against the computer.
In 1973, Bill graduated from Lakeside school. He scored 1590 out of 1600 on the college SAT test.
How Bill met Paul Allen
Bill Gates met Paul Allen, who was his senior by two years at Lakeside High School. They soon bonded well because of their love for computers. However, they were different by character. While Bill was feisty and combative at times, Paul Allen was shy and more reserved.
Despite their differences, Bill Gates and Paul Allen spent their time working on programs whenever they got free. Sometimes, they would disagree on matters. Clashes on decisions would occur. Differing thoughts on who should run the computer lab and who was right would happen too. At some point, Paul Allen banned Bill Gates from the computer lab due to small differences in thoughts and decision making.
Bill and Paul Allen took advantage of repairing software glitches that occurred in their school computers. They saw this as free computer time. They would debug programs in the computer lab too.
In 1970, Bill was only 15 years old. Paul Allen and Bill Gates decided to do business at a young age. They developed “Traf-o-Data.”
It was a computer program that monitored Seattle’s traffic patterns. Paul and Bill obtained $20,000 from the project. Bill was eager to begin his own business at that age. However, Bill Gates’s parents wanted Bill to get done with school, excel in college, and become a lawyer.
Gates’s partnership with Paul Allen
Mr. Paul and Mr. Gates explored every possibility of new technology. They taught themselves the basics of computer programming.
Furthermore, Gates and his friends wrote computer programs for large businesses around Seattle in the summer. They took it up as a part-time job. Along with this, Bill gates also showed great interest in the business field. He became the leader of the group later.
Paul and Gates kept an eye on events that took place in the computer industry. They foresaw that the development of microprocessors could create compactly affordable personal computers that could undermine bulky systems.
Bill Gate’s Higher Education
Mr. Gates joined Harvard University as his parents wished. Paul moved to Boston after dropping out of college to work for Honeywell. Gates and Paul were motivated by a cover story that was published in Popular Electronics. The article promotes the Altair 8800 mini-computer kit. Altair 8800 was a cheap microcomputer produced by MITS.
MITS made the Altair. MITS (Micro Instrument and Telemetry Systems) made The Altair establish a new technological platform.
The duo saw this as a rise into a new industry. At that time, Altair had not developed software yet. Young programmers viewed this as a massive chance.
Gates saw a massive business opportunity through MITS. He stepped down from Harvard University at the start of his junior year. Bill Gates decided to take the risk and jump into the world of business at a young age.
Later, Paul and Bill decided to contact the company. They proclaimed that they were working on a BASIC software program that would run their Altair computer.
Ed Roberts was the president of MITS at that time; he asked the boys for a demonstration. Paul Allen and Bill Gates spent two months writing the BASIC software at Harvard University’s computer lab.
Bill and Paul adapted the computer language BASIC to run the device. The program perfectly worked. They later secured a software development contract with MITS. Well, the truth was the due did not have an Altair to work with it the code to run it. Particularly, they wanted to know if MITS was interested in someone developing such software.
Moreover, Paul Allen drove to Albuquerque to test tun at the software at MITS. He never tried it out at the Altair computer before.
In 1975, Paul Allen and Bill Gates moved to New Mexico. They decided to produce software for MITS. In 1976, they began Microsoft – their own company.
Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft in 1975. Micro-soft was a mix of “software” and “micro-computer.” After a year, they dropped the hyphen and made it Microsoft.
BASIC software was the first product Microsoft made. They ran the software program on the Altair computer. It was a bumpy road for them at first. However, Microsoft’s BASIC software program for Altair and quoted for them royalties and a free. This was not meeting Microsoft’s overhead.
Bill Gates later realized that only 10% of people who used BASIC in the Altair computer had actually paid for it. The rest of the 90% did not. Computer hobbyists obtained pre-market copies and reproduced and distributed them for free. Around this era, lots of personal enthusiasts were not doing it for revenue. They only reproduced and distributed to share the software with friends, family, and other computer lovers.
However, this did now stop Bill Gates. He decided to re-think the situation. Bill Gates viewed free distribution of software as theft as it was software created to be sold.
Bill Gates decided to write an open letter to computer hobbyists in 1976. He states that continued distribution and use of software without pay “prevents good software from being written.” That is, software pirating discourages software developers from putting in money and time to come up with quality software. Bill Gates believed he would use the threat of innovation to put unfair business practices to a stop.
Relationship between Bill Gates and MITS
Bill gates and Ed Roberts faced a clash. They ended up in shouting matches. The clashes were usually about differences in opinions regarding the direction of the business and software development. Bill Gates was seen as obnoxious and spoiled in the eyes of Ed Roberts.
Later in 1997, Ed Roberts sold MITs to another computer company. Ed Roberts then headed back to Georgia to join the medical school and excel as a doctor. Paul Allen and Bill Gates were then left on their own.
Paul and Bill sued the new owners of MITS to retain the software rights they developed for The Altair. At the beginning of 1979, Microsoft wrote software in various formats for other computer companies. Then, Bill Gates moved the company’s operations to Bellevue, Washington, in the East of Seattle.
The growth of Microsoft
Bill Gates came back home again in the Pacific Northwest. Even though he was glad to be back home, the workaholic in him pushed him to throw himself at work.
Microsoft had 25 employees at that time. Each employee was given a huge responsibility. They were involved in all aspects of the company, from marketing, business development, product development to operation.
Despite the startling start Microsoft went through at the beginning, it began to grow well. In 1979, Microsoft was grossing at approximately $2.5 million. Bill Gates was 23 when he placed himself as the head of Microsoft. He was keen on his business. He led the company and played the role of Microsoft’s spokesperson. Bill Gates took the initiative of reviewing every line code that Microsoft shipped. He often rewrote codes himself when he saw it necessary.
IBM PCs and Microsoft Software
Microsoft grew tremendously and began developing hardware and components. The company collaborated with IBM, Intel and Apple. Bill Gates did now stop touting the merits of Microsoft software applications.
Mary Gates and Bill Gates often traveled together. Mary Gates was highly respected and well connected with her membership on several corporate boards, including IBM’s. It was through Mary that Gates met the CEO of IBM.
Furthermore, IBM searched for software to operate their upcoming PC (Personal computers) in November 1980. IBM approached Microsoft. Apparently, at the first meeting, someone at IBM mistook Bill Gates for an office assistant and asked him to serve coffee.
Bill Gates looked so young to own a company. However, he did not fail to impress IBM. He convinced them that he and his company would surely meet their need. Nevertheless, Microsoft had not developed the basic operating system that would run IBM’s new computers.
Undoubtedly, Gates went ahead. He bought an operating system developed to run on computers similar to IBM’s PC. Bill made a deal with the software developer. He made Microsoft the exclusive licensing agent. Later on, he made them the full owner of the software. However, he did not tell IBM about the deal.
IBM sues Microsoft
IBM later sued Microsoft and Bill Gates for holding back crucial information. An undisclosed amount was paid to IBM by Microsoft to settle the matter out of court. However, neither Microsoft nor Bill Gates admitted to doing any wrong.
Bill Gates had to adapt the new software for the IBM PC. However, Bill Gates delivered it for a $50,000 fee. That is the same price he paid for the software in its original form. Besides, IBM wanted to purchase the source code, which would have granted them the information to the operating system.
However, Bill Gates did not like the idea. Instead, he proposed that IBM pay a licensing fee for copies of software sold with their computers. This way, Microsoft was allowed to license the software they called MS-DOS to other PC manufacturers. Later, other computer companies cloned the IBM OC.
After that, Microsoft released Softcard. Softcard allowed BASIC to operate on Apple II machines. Between 1979 and 1981, the growth of Microsoft boosted since they developed software for IBM.
Microsoft increased their employees to 128 from 25. Their revenue boosted from $16 million from $2.5 million. Bill Gates and Paul Allen incorporated Microsoft in mid-1981. Mr. Gates was appointed as president and chairman of the board. Paul Allen was named as the executive vice president.
Microsoft went global. It had offices in Japan and Great Britain by 1983. Around 30 percent of the world’s computers ran on Microsoft software.
In 1983, Paul Allen got diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. Paul’s cancer went into remission a year later with intensive treatment. He decided to resign from the company later. Rumors began stirring about why Paul Allen left the Microsoft company. Some people said that Bill Gates pushed him away. However, others claimed Paul Allen found other life-changing opportunities, and that was why he left. Apparently, he foresaw other opportunities he could invest time into.
Bill Gates’ feud with Steve Jobs
Apple and Microsoft shared many of their early innovations. Steve Jobs led Apple in 1981. Steve invited Microsoft to develop software for Macintosh computers. Through this collaboration, Microsoft developed Windows. Windows – a system that used a mouse to drive a graphic interface. Moreover, it also displayed text and images on the screen.
According to Mr. Gates, this was a massive threat to Microsoft. He knew it would be easier for the unsophisticated user to use the VisiCorp software in a Macintosh system.
Therefore, Mr. Gates announced in a marketing campaign that a new Microsoft OS (Operating System) was about to be developed that would use graphic software. He wanted to call it “Windows.” He said it would be compatible with all PC software products developed on the MS-DOS system.
This was a genius marketing tactic. Almost 30% of the computer market used MS-DOS systems and eagerly waited for Windows software.
In 1985, Bill Gates launched Windows. Windows was similar to the Macintosh system that Apple Computer Corporation had introduced to the market two years earlier in 1983. Previously, Apple granted Microsoft access to its technological innovation while it worked on Microsoft products. Mr. Gates advised Apple to license their software. However, Apple ignored his advice as they were interested in selling computers.
Bill Gates took advantage of the situation. He created a software format that was similar to Macintosh. Apple threatened to sue Microsoft. Microsoft retaliated and said it would delay shipment of its Microsoft compatible software for Macintosh users.
Finally, Microsoft prevailed in the courts as they proved there were similarities in how both the software system operated and each operation was differing.
Initial Public Offerings (IPO)
Microsoft issued an IPO of $21 per share in March 1986. Gates became a millionaire at 31 years. He held 45% of Microsoft’s shares, that is, 24.7 million shares. This made his stake at the time for $234 million of Microsoft’s $520 million.
Microsoft’s stock rose in value. In 1987, gates became a billionaire as stock prices rose to $90.75 per share. Forbes listed Bill in the top 400 wealthiest people in the world.
23-year-old Melinda French caught the eyes of Bill Gates in 1987. At that time, Melinda was Microsoft’s product manager. Mr. Gates was then 32.
Later on, January 1st, 1994, Bill Gates and Melinda got married in Hawaii. Their first daughter Jennifer was born in 1996, and their son Roy was born in 1999. Phoebe was born in 2002.
Bill Gates steps down.
Mr. Gates stepped down from his day-to-day Microsoft operations in 2000. He turned over the job to Steve Ballmer, his college friend.
Bill positioned himself as a chief software architect. He decided to focus on what he was most passionate about.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Melinda and Bill dedicated themselves to support world health and education for low-income communities. Moreover, they decided to tackle domestic issues too.
$28 billion was contributed to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation from several family foundations.
The foundation launched support to HIV, malnutrition, and child mortality issues in 2017.
Moreover, in 2018, Larry Page, co-founder of Google, provided $12 million for the universal flu vaccine.
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