As one of the most iconic figures of the late 20th century, Bill Gates revolutionized the day-to-day lives of countless people. His early interest in processing machines helped launch Microsoft, which then led to the creation of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Bill Gates Early Life
Bill Gates was born in Seattle in 1955. He had an early interest in mechanical processors, including machine language, which helped him launch his undergraduate career at Harvard in 1973.
At Harvard, Gates studied law but also completed mathematics and computer science courses. Only two years into his career, Gates and friend Paul Allen saw a chance to pursue a career in computer sciences by creating their own processors, similar to Intel and MITS projects at the time. He dropped out of Harvard that year.
Shortly after, the pair concocted a name for their own company. The prefix “micro” came from the word “microcomputer” and the suffix “soft” came from the word “software”.
Building Up to Microsoft Windows
What began as a college dropout’s first business venture quickly transformed into a hub for computer hobbyists with innovative ideas. Microsoft first undertook a wide range of computer software projects, with Gates staying up night after night in order to check and rewrite coding.
By 1980, Microsoft landed a partnership with IBM. At the time, IBM was looking for help creating the software that would fuel the operating system for their latest project: an at-home, personal computer.
The attention from IBM transformed the company, offering it a huge boost in public attention. Not only did other entrepreneurs take note of Microsoft, but there was ample interest in Gates himself, as he was viewed as “the man behind the machine”.
By 1985, Microsoft had released its first retail processing system: Microsoft Windows. From there, the company undertook a wide range of projects, with the main focus of bringing personal computers into homes across the world.
The company’s early innovations with microprocessors led to a variety of inventions, including smartphones and other hand-held devices. Microprocessors are what allow gamers to play slots online, as well as allowing engineers to calculate certain equations and traffic lights to organize thousands of drivers.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
In the late 1990s, Gates faced a series of legal issues when the US federal government proved that his business model had intentionally stifled competition; in other words, he’d created a monopoly.
In 2014, Gates left Microsoft to devote his time and wealth to philanthropic efforts. Back in 2000, Gates had started his own Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in order to help bring attention to global issues and fund aid; his starting donation was $5 billion and, by 2007, he and Melinda had donated a total of $28 billion to charity.
The foundation targeted global crises, ranging from health, sanitation, education, to agricultural efforts in rural areas. They’ve also hosted charity sporting events and helped create systems for other wealthy individuals or groups to emulate in terms of resource-sharing.
Bill Gates is often compared to Apple CEO, Steve Jobs—though it’s unlikely Ashton Kutcher would play Gates in a film adaptation.
Gates created a multi-billion-dollar corporation via Microsoft. Given his work with processors and software was so innovative, Microsoft remains the largest software company in the world decades after it was created.
Gates has a net worth of $124 billion, which makes him the fourth-richest person in the world. Ahead of Gates are Bernard Arnault, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos. He currently owns only 1.3% stake in Microsoft.