William Henry Gates was born on 28 October 1955, in Seattle, Washington. As the principal founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates is one of the most influential and richest people on the planet. Recent estimates of his wealth put it at US$84.2 billion (Jan. 2017); this is the equivalent of the combined GDP of several African economies. In recent years he has retired from working full time at Microsoft, and has instead concentrated on working with his charitable foundation “The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.”
Early life of Bill Gates
His father William Gates Sr was a senior lawyer, and his mother, Mary, served as an executive for a major bank. The family were wealthy but, remembering the challenges of the Great Depression, they encouraged their children to work hard and take nothing for granted.
Aged 13, Gates attended the private Lakeside school. It was here that Gates had his first introduction to computers. He taught himself to programme in Basic, making a simple ‘Tic-Tac-Toe’ game. Gates enjoyed the process of working with computers and arranged with a company Computer Center Corporation (CCC) to spend time on their computers – learning source code, such as Fortran, Machine Code and Lisp.
In 1973, Gates enrolled at Harvard, where he studied mathematics and computer science. However, Gates was more interested in pursuing his own coding, and when he saw an opportunity to found his own company, he dropped out of Harvard without finishing his course.
Bill Gates foundation of Microsoft
Altair 8800 computer
Bill Gates founded Microsoft in 1976 when he formed a contract with MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems) to develop a basic operating system for their new microcomputers. In the early days, Bill Gates would review every line of code. He was also involved in several aspects of Microsoft’s business such as packing and sending off orders.
Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1981
The big break for Microsoft came in 1980 when IBM approached them for a new BASIC operating system for its new computers. In the early 1980s, IBM was by far the leading PC manufacturer. However, increasingly, there developed many IBM PC clones; (PCs produced by other companies compatible with IBM’s). Microsoft worked hard to sell its operating system to these other companies. Thus Microsoft was able to gain the dominant position of software manufacture just as the personal computer market started to boom. Since its early dominance, other companies have struggled to displace Microsoft as the dominant provider of computer operating software. Programs like Microsoft Word and Excel have become the industry standard.
Bill Gates – Windows
In 1990 Microsoft released its first version of Windows. This was a breakthrough in operating software as it replaced text interfaces with graphical interfaces. It soon became a best seller and was able to capture the majority of the operating system market share. In 1995 Windows 95 was released, setting new standards and features for operating systems. This version of Windows has been the backbone of all future releases from Windows 2000 to the latest XP and Vista.
Throughout his time in office, Bill Gates has been keen to diversify the business of Microsoft. For example, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer became the dominant web browser, although this was primarily because it came pre-installed on most new computers. In recent years, Internet Explorer has seen its market share slip.
One area where Microsoft has never been successful is in the area of search engines. MSN live search has struggled to gain more than 5% of market share. In this respect, Microsoft has been dwarfed by Google. Nevertheless, the success of Microsoft in cornering various aspects of the software market has led to several anti-trust cases. In 1998 US v Microsoft, Microsoft came close to being broken up into three smaller firms. However, on appeal, Microsoft was able to survive as a single firm. Although Microsoft was the dominant computer firm of the 1980s, and 1990s, they are now seen as an ageing and declining company – compared to the more dynamic Google and Apple.
Philanthropic Activities – Bill Gates
Bill Gates is married to Melinda French (married in 1992). They have three children Jennifer (1996), Rory (1999) and Phoebe (2002). With his wife, Bill Gates formed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Gates says much of the inspiration came from the example of David Rockefeller. Like Rockefeller, Gates has sought to focus on global issues ignored by the government; he also expressed an interest in improving the standards of public school education in the US. He has appeared with Oprah Winfrey to promote this objective. In respect to charitable, philanthropic activities Gates has also received encouragement from investor Warren Buffet, who has given away $17 billion, through the Gates Foundation.
From 2008 Gates has worked full time on his philanthropic interests. It is estimated Gates and his wife Melinda have given away $28 billion via their charitable foundation – including $8 billion to improve global health.
Gates has said that he has no use for money, and will only leave a small percentage of his wealth to his children. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Gates states:
“I’m certainly well taken care of in terms of food and clothes,” he says, redundantly. “Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point. Its utility is entirely in building an organisation and getting the resources out to the poorest in the world.” (1)
His main areas of interest in philanthropy have been improving health, and in particular helping to reduce diseases, such as polio which affect young children. He has also given more focus to environmental issues. In 2015, he gave $1 billion to a clean energy project, as he sees supporting new ‘greener’ technologies as a way to help deal with global warming. Asked about the motivation of his giving, Gates replies:
“It doesn’t relate to any particular religion; it’s about human dignity and equality,” he says. “The golden rule that all lives have equal value and we should treat people as we would like to be treated.”
Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of Bill Gates”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net, 25th Feb. 2015. Updated 10th February 2018.
Bill Gates: The Life and Business Lessons of Bill Gates
Bill Gates: The Life and Business Lessons of Bill Gates at Amazon
Who is Bill Gates?
Who is Bill Gates? at Amazon
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Bill GatesBiography >> Entrepreneurs
- Occupation: Entrepreneur, Chairman of Microsoft
- Born: October 28, 1955 in Seattle, Washington
- Best known for: Founder of Microsoft, one of the richest men in the world
Source: US Treasury Department
Where did Bill Gates grow up?
William Henry Gates III was born in Seattle, Washington on October 28, 1955. He was the middle child of William H. Gates II, a prominent Seattle lawyer, and Mary Gates, who worked as a teacher before she had kids. Bill had an older sister, Kristi, and a younger sister, Libby.
Bill loved to play board games and was competitive at most everything he did. He was an intelligent student and his best subject in grade school was math. However, Bill got easily bored with school and ended up getting into trouble a lot. His parents kept him occupied with outside activities like Boy Scouts (he earned his Eagle Scout badge) and reading science fiction books.
When Bill turned thirteen his parents sent him to the Lakeside Preparatory School hoping it would prove more of a challenge for him. It was at Lakeside where Bill met his future business partner Paul Allen. He also was introduced to computers at Lakeside.
At the time when Bill was growing up, there weren't home computers like the PC, the laptop, or the tablet like we have today. Computers were owned by large companies and took up lots of space. Lakeside school purchased time on one of these computers that the students could use. Bill found the computer fascinating. The first computer program he wrote was a version of tic-tac-toe.
At one point, Bill and some of his fellow students were banned from using the computer because they hacked it to get extra computing time. They then agreed to look for bugs in the computer system in return for computer time. Later, while still in high school, Bill wrote a payroll program for a company and a scheduling program for his school. He even started a business with his friend Paul Allen writing a computer program that helped to track traffic patterns in Seattle.
After graduating from high school in 1973, Gates attended Harvard University. At first he planned to study as a lawyer, but he continued to spend much of his time on computers. He also kept in touch with his friend Paul Allen who was working for Honeywell.
When the Altair personal computer came out in 1974, Gates and Allen decided they could write a BASIC software program to run on the computer. They called up Altair and told them they were working on the program. Altair wanted a demonstration in a few weeks, but Gates hadn't even started on the program. He worked hard over the next month or so and, when they finally went to New Mexico to run the software, it worked perfectly the first time.
In 1975, Gates dropped out of Harvard to start a software company with Paul Allen called Microsoft. The company was doing well, but it was in 1980 that Gates made a deal with IBM that would change computing. Microsoft reached a deal to provide the MS-DOS operating system on the new IBM PC. Gates sold the software to IBM for a fee of $50,000, however he held onto the copyright of the software. When the PC market took off, Microsoft also sold MS-DOS to other PC manufacturers. Soon, Microsoft was the operating system in a large percentage of computers around the world.
Source: U.S. Department of State
In 1985, Gates and Microsoft took another risk. They released the Microsoft Windows operating system. This was Microsoft's answer to a similar operating system introduced by Apple in 1984. At first, many people complained that Microsoft Windows wasn't as good as the Apple version. However, Gates continued to press the open PC concept. Microsoft Windows could run on a variety of PC compatible machines, while the Apple operating system only ran on Apple machines. Microsoft won the operating system battle and was soon installed on nearly 90% of the world's personal computers.
Gates wasn't satisfied with just winning the operating system portion of the software market. Over the next few years he introduced new products such as Windows Office programs like Word and Excel. The company also introduced new and improved versions of Windows.
World's Richest Man
In 1986, Gates took Microsoft public. The company's stock was worth $520 million. Gates owned 45 percent of the stock himself which was worth $234 million. The company continued its rapid growth and the stock price soared. At one point, Gates' stock was worth over $100 billion. He was the richest man in the world.
Why was Bill Gates successful?
Like most successful entrepreneurs, Bill Gates' success came from a combination of hard work, intelligence, timing, business sense, and luck. Gates constantly challenged his employees to work harder and innovate, but he also worked as hard or harder than the people who worked for him. Gates also wasn't afraid to take risks. He took a risk when he dropped out of Harvard to start his own company. He also took a risk when he changed Microsoft's operating system from MS-DOS to Windows. However, his risks were calculated. He had confidence in himself and his product.
Gates married Melinda French in January of 1994. They have since had three children including two daughters and a son. In 2000, Gates and his wife formed the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Today, this is one of the largest charitable foundations in the world. Gates personally has donated over $28 billion to charity.
Interesting Facts about Bill Gates
- Bill's nickname as a child was "Trey" which was given to him by his grandmother.
- He scored a 1590 out of 1600 on the SAT.
- At first Microsoft had a hyphen in the name "Micro-soft". It was a combination of microcomputer and software.
- When Microsoft first started out, Gates would look at every line of code before a new software product shipped.
- In 2004, Gates predicted that email spam would be gone by 2006. He was wrong on that one!
- He was dubbed an honorary knight by Queen Elizabeth. He does not use the title "Sir" because he is not a citizen of the United Kingdom.
Biography >> Entrepreneurs