Bill Gates is an American entrepreneur, philanthropist, business magnet and the founder of Microsoft. He was the chairman, CEO and chief software architect of Microsoft until 2014. He is the second richest person in the world, with a net worth estimated to be $91.7 billion USD.
Bill Gates was born on October 28, 1955 in Seattle, Washington. His father William H. Gates Sr. was a lawyer and his mother Mary Maxwell Gates worked for the First Interstate BancSystem and the United Way. He has two sisters Kristi and Libby. Earlier Gates’ parents wanted him to build his career in law.
He enrolled in a private preparatory school, Lakeside School at the age of 13. He took an interest in programming the GE system in BASIC at eighth grade. His first program was tic-tac-toe, a computer game. Gates along with three other students got banned for exploiting bugs in the operating system of PDP-10 which belonged to Computer Center Corporation. They tried to obtain free computer time. Later after the ban expired they offered CCC to find bugs in order to get more computer time.
He began working for CCC until the company went out of business in 1970. He wrote a program for his school that could place him in classes with disproportionate number of interesting girls.
When he was 17, he founded Traf-O-Data along with Paul Allen.
After graduating from Lakeside School in 1973, he enrolled at Harvard College. He studied mathematics and graduate level computer science courses although his major was pre-law.
With no specific plan while at Harvard, he dropped out of Harvard after two years. He and Paul wanted to start their own software company.
After their plan of founding their own company and discussing their plan with their supportive family, they formed Micro-Soft together in 1975. They changed the name to Microsoft within first year. By 1979 Microsoft was grossing about $2.5 million. Gates was the head of the company at the age of 23. He led the company with his keen sense of business and passion for software development. He used to review each line of code written for the company also modified when necessary.
In between 1979-1981 Microsoft expanded a lot. Their staff members expanded from 25 to 128 and revenue increased from $2.5 million to $16 million. In mid-1981, Gates placed himself as president and chairman of board while Allen was placed as executive vice president of Microsoft.
Through his mother Mary, Gates met the CEO of IBM. IBM approached Microsoft in November 1980 for a software to operate their personal computer. He had no operating system developed that would work on IBMs’ computers. So he bought an operating system that would run on PCs similar to IBMs’ PCs. When purchasing he made deal with the software developer to make Microsoft owner of the software without telling them of deal with IBM. Later that company sied Microsoft for hiding the information. This was settled for an undisclosed amount.
He adapted the new software to run on IBMs’ PCs. Declining IBMs’ offer to buy the software he suggested IBM to pay licensing fee for the softwares’ sold copies. Microsoft went global by 1983 and 30 percent of worlds’ computers started running on its operating system.
Rivalry with Steve Jobs
In 1981, Apple approached Microsoft to develop software for them. At that time Apple was led by Steve Jobs. Some developers working for Microsoft word on development of applications for Macintosh.
Microsoft decided to develop a new operating system called Windows which would use a mouse driven graphic interface, very similar to Macintosh system. After launching Windows in 1985, Apple threatened to sue Microsoft for making it look similar to Macintosh. But Microsoft dominated in the courts because it proved that the functions used in both systems work differently.
Personal Life and Net Worth
Bill Gates met his future wife Melinda French in 1987, who at the time was product manager of Microsoft. They felt an intellectual connection while growing intimate with each other. They got married in Hawaii on January 1, 1994.
His mother died few months after his marriage. Afterwards Bill and Melinda took a break from work and traveled in the world to gain new perspective on life. They had their first daughter, Jennifer, in 1996. They had a son, Rory, in 1999 and their second daughter in 2002 named Phoebe.
He became millionaire instantly at the age of 31 following the initial public offering of $21 per share when he took Microsoft public. He held 45 percent of the companys’ shares and his stake was $234 million at that time. Microsofts’ stock value increased over time. When the stock hit $90.75 Gates became a billionaire. He was listed at one of the 400 wealthiest people in America by Forbes’ in 1999.
He has a 55,000 square foot house on the shore of Lake Washington that’s worth $54 million. He moved there with his wife and children in 1997.
Bill and Melinda founded William H. Gates foundation in 1994. Their venture was dedicated to support world health, education and investment in low-income communities. They donated $28 billion for philanthropic causes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000.
In 2000, he handed over the position of CEO to Steve Ballmer, his college friend who was with Microsoft since 1980. He remained as chairman of the board and placed himself as chief software architect of Microsoft. Afterwards most of his time went on with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. His organization handles health and education issues both in domestic and international areas.