Bill Gates embodies the quintessential American success story, worthy of movies and books relating his endeavors. He has become a true financial titan of the 20th century, who started a small business out of tiny garage, which eventually grew to become one of the most powerful corporations in the world today. The impact that Microsoft has caused in our lifetime is vast and difficult to measure. It is said that nearly every computer in existence, has at least one Microsoft product installed. He didn’t just co-founded one of the most successful companies in the world due to his terrific career in development of software for personal computers, he is also prominent American entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist.
Since 1987, Gates has been included in the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest people and was the richest from 1995 to 2007, once again in 2009, and since 2014. Between 2009 and 2014, his wealth doubled from US$40 billion to around US$82 billion. Gates is currently the wealthiest person in the world with an estimated wealth of US$77.5 billion.
William Henry “Bill” Gates III was born on October 28, 1955 in Seattle, Washington to the fairly wealthy family of William Henry “Bill” Gates, a successful attorney and Mary Maxwell Gates, a former schoolteacher, who later served on the board of directors for First Interstate BancSystem and the United Way. His entire family had a rich business, political and community service background.
At the young age of 13, Gates began showing interests and promise in the area of computer programing by creating a version of tic-tac-toe that would allow users to play the game against the computer. He did this using a Teletype Model 33 ASR terminal just purchased by the Lakeside School, a private preparatory school where he attended at the time and where he met Paul Allen. He still looks back at this moment fondly remembering how he stood in awe against the ability of the machine to execute software code perfectly.
In 1973, Gates entered Harvard University following his family’s wishes for him to become a lawyer like his father. His heart wasn’t really in it so he spent most of his time playing games and debating with his friend Allen, who visited him on the weekends, the prospects of starting their own business.
Gates and Allen were both fascinated by the possibilities presented by a new personal computer developed by a small company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) had their Altair 8800 minicomputer kit, showcased in Popular Electronics Magazines, which prompted Gates to contact them and tell them that he had software that could run the Altair as an operative system. The software hasn’t even been created yet, but his probing proved fruitful when MITS asked for a demonstration. They spent the next two months coding and even while never having been tested before on the Altair computer, the program worked perfectly when Allen traveled to New Mexico for the first test run. Gates left Harvard soon after and formed a partnership with Allen. Using a blend of “Micro-computer” and “software” they named it Microsoft and in 1975, the legend was born.
Microsoft began writing software in different formats for numerous companies and eventually moved operations to Bellevue, Washington. At first, his 25 employees all shared the burden of responsibility for the entire company’s operation from product and business development all the way to marketing. As the industry began to grow with companies like Apple, Intel and IBM making hardware and modules, Gates was constantly out advertising the advantages of Microsoft software applications.
In 1981 Apple invited Microsoft to help develop software for Macintosh computers and it was through this partnership that Microsoft began exploring the possibilities of a graphic interface operated with a mouse and the display of text and images on the screen, thus giving birth to Windows.
Gates net worth would be much bigger today if he didn’t give so much money to charity. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a charity Gates and his wife founded to reduce global poverty and expand access to healthcare and information technology, have given over $30 billion to charity, and over 95% of their enormous estate is allocated for eventual donation to charitable causes. These days, Gates continues to devote much of his time and energy to the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Time magazine named Bill Gates one the 100 persons who most influenced the world in the 20th century and in 2015 he presented to the world, an ingenious machine called Omniprocessor that turns human waste into clean drinking water. This equipment will help 2.5 billion people in the world suffering from a scarcity of drinking water.