The Early Days of Bill Gates
Bill Gates was born William Henry Gates to a upper class family that is well regarded in their community. His father, William H. Gates is a Seattle attorney and his late mother was a schoolteacher at the University of Washington regent, and a chairwoman of United Way International. The Gates family was warm and close and all their three children were encouraged to be competitive and strive for excellence, where Bill excels at playing board games such as Risk and Monopoly.
Bill was an avid reader right from his early days and spent many hours consuming knowledge from references such as encyclopedias. When Bill turned 13, his parents enrolled him at Seattle's exclusive preparatory school, Lakeside School where he excelled in math and science but also did very well in drama and English. With that came along an early interest in computer programming at the age of 13 and Bill developed his first software program, a simple 'Tic-Tac-Toe' game that played against the computer. Computers were not just a hobby for Bill though for as early as 1971, Bill and his hometown friend, Paul Allen who also shared an enthusiasm for computers were hired to create commercial softwares that earned them quite a sum while they were still in their teens! Gates graduated from Lakeside in 1973 and his SAT score of 1590 out of 1600 led him to Harvard University but not too long after that, came along the popular story of his willing dropout from the university to form Microsoft together with Allen.
Bill Gates at Microsoft
Bill Gates's mega wealth is not a fluke and it was all hard work that made Gates one of the richest man on the planet today. Like any typical new business, Microsoft which started in 1975 (it was called Micro-Soft in its early days) went through some difficult times in the initial stages and there was a time when Bill Gate's mother, Mary Maxwell Gates had to step in as a Sales Manager because the company did not have enough money to hire a person for the role. Another challenge that Gates and Allen faced was 'piracy'; back then it seems to be 'acceptable' among the computer hobbyists to copy software and use it without any permission from the orginal creator. This situation was clearly eating into Microsoft's earning potential, thus Gates took some steps to initiate the enforcing of copyright protection for computer software on the basis that software is a product of creativity and therefore, it must also be protected in the same way as musical composition and other creative works.
Microsoft’s early business centered primarily on adapting programming languages for the Altair 8800 and other computers. The Altair 8800 was the first commercial microcomputer which Gates and Allen believed would be the first generation of computers that will be affordable to regular consumers. By 1979, the company was so successful that they had to move out of their original home in Albuquerque, New Mexico and in the early 1980s, Microsoft produced an industry standard operating system (OS) that came to be known as MS-DOS. This operating system was included as the main OS for IBM's (International Business Machines Corporation) personal computers (PC), a move that gave rise to the personal computer industry. IBM was by far the leading PC manufacturer in the early 1980s but later there came about many IBM PC clones (PCs produced by other companies that are compatible with the original IBM's PCs). In 1983, the Microsoft Hardware Group created another innovation: the 'Mouse', designed to serve as a device for easy data input into the computer and in that year, they also launched a text editor for MS-DOS and announced 'Windows', an extension for the MS-DOS operating system. Bill Gates took Microsoft public with an initial public offering(IPO) of $21 per share that made him an instant millionaire at the age of 31 in March 1986. The company's stocks continued to increase in value and in 1987, Gates became a billionaire when the stock reached $90.75. Fast forward to 1995 and we saw the launch of Windows 95 operating system and the excitement over this game-changing operating system was so great then that even people who did not own computers were in the line to buy it and this resulted in over 25 million copies of Windows 95 sold in just one year! It was this Windows that served as the backbone for future releases of the Windows operating system and along with the success of other popular softwares such as the Microsoft Office, Microsoft began to dominate in the industry.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Bill Gates married Melinda French who used to work at Microsoft in the 1980s and in 1994, they established the William H. Gates Foundation. With Melinda's influence, Bill took an interest in becoming a civic leader following the footsteps of his mother and in year 2000, the couple combined several family foundations and made a $28 billion contribution to form the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation was dedicated to supporting education, world health and investment in low-income communities.
Over the years, Bill became more involved with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and in 2006, he announced that he will be transitioning himself from full-time work at Microsoft to devote more time at the foundtion. From 2008, Gates has been pretty much full-time on his philanthropic interests and later on in 2014, Bill Gates stepped down as chairman of Microsoft but continued to serve as a board member. His main interest in philanthrophy is in improving health, and in particular helping to reduce diseases such as polio which affect young children. More recently he has also given more focus on environmental issues where in 2015, he gave $1 billion to a clean energy project.
Quotes by Bill Gates
"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.
Source: The Telegraph
"Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose." - taken from his 1995 best seller book: The Road Ahead.
Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica