Bill Gates is a technologist, corporate executive, and benefactor. He grew up in Seattle, Washington, with a wonderful and encouraging family who supported his early interest in computers. He quit college to co-found Microsoft with his childhood friend Paul Allen. Today, Bill co-chairs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife, Melinda French Gates, where he seeks to return his fortune to society.
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Bill grew up with his two sisters in Seattle. William H. Gates Sr., his late father, was an attorney in Seattle and one of the co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Mary Gates, his late mother, was a schoolteacher, University of Washington regent, and United Way International chair. Bill is the father of three children.
When Bill and Paul Allen founded Microsoft, most people thought their vision of “a computer on every desktop and in every home” was unrealistic. Today, owing to Microsoft and numerous other companies, this vision has become a reality in many areas of the world, and personal technology is an intrinsic part of society.
Bill is enthusiastic about Microsoft’s efforts and will remain associated with the company in his current capacities as a board member and technology advisor.
Bill Gates American computer programmer, businessman, and philanthropist
Bill Gates, whose full name is William Henry Gates III, was born in Seattle, Washington, on October 28, 1955. He is an American computer programmer and entrepreneur who co-founded Microsoft Corporation, the world’s largest personal-computer software company.
At the age of 13, Gates wrote his first software application. In high school, he helped organise a group of programmers who automated his school’s payment system and founded a firm that marketed traffic-counting devices to local governments. In 1975, while a student at Harvard University, Gates collaborated with his childhood buddy Paul G. Allen to develop software for the first microcomputers. They started by modifying the popular programming language for large computers, BASIC, for use on microcomputers. As a result of the success of this effort, Gates left Harvard during his junior year and co-founded Microsoft with Allen. Microsoft licensed an operating system called MS-DOS to International Business Machines Corporation, the world’s largest computer supplier and industry leader at the time, for use on its first microcomputer, the IBM PC, which greatly increased Gates’s influence over the infant microcomputer industry (personal computer). IBM quickly established the technical standard for the PC industry after the machine’s debut in 1981, and MS-DOS similarly pushed out competing operating systems. While Microsoft’s independence damaged its relationship with IBM, Gates deftly persuaded the larger business to become permanently reliant on him for essential software. Microsoft was also chosen by manufacturers of IBM-compatible PCs and clones for their core software. By the beginning of the 1990s, he had become the ultimate kingmaker in the PC business.
As the company’s largest individual shareholder, Gates accumulated a substantial paper fortune mostly due to Microsoft’s success. Within a decade of becoming a paper billionaire in 1986, his net worth climbed to the tens of billions of dollars, making him, according to some estimates, the world’s richest private individual. With little interest outside of software and the possibilities of information technology, Gates initially sought to avoid the public glare, handling civic and philanthropic matters indirectly through one of his foundations. Nonetheless, as Microsoft’s influence and reputation rose, and especially as it attracted the attention of the antitrust division of the U.S. Justice Department, Gates reluctantly became a more visible figure. Competitors (particularly at competing Silicon Valley firms) described him as ruthless, dishonest, and determined to profit from almost every electronic transaction in the globe. His followers, on the other hand, praised his extraordinary commercial acumen, his adaptability, and his insatiable desire to discover new methods to make computers and electrical devices more useful through software.
All of these characteristics were visible in Gates’ swift reaction to the sudden public interest in the Internet. Beginning in 1995 and 1996, Gates frantically refocused Microsoft on the development of consumer and enterprise software solutions for the Internet, developed the Windows CE operating system platform for networking non computer devices such as home televisions and personal digital assistants, created the Microsoft Network to compete with America Online and other Internet service providers, and, through Gates’s company Corbis, acquired the vast Bettmann photo archives and other valuable intellectual property.
Gates was well-known for his humanitarian activity in addition to his job at Microsoft. In 1994, he and his then-wife Melinda established the William H. Gates Foundation (renamed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 1999) to fund worldwide health programmes and Pacific Northwest projects. In the late 1990s, the couple supported North American libraries through the Gates Library Foundation (renamed the Gates Learning Foundation in 1999) and raised funds for minority study fellowships through the Gates Millennium Scholars programme. In June 2006, Warren Buffett announced a gift to the foundation that would allow its assets to reach approximately $60 billion over the following two decades. At the start of the twenty-first century, the foundation continued to prioritise worldwide health and global development, in addition to community and education initiatives in the United States. In June 2008, after a brief transition period, Gates abandoned day-to-day management of Microsoft to dedicate more time to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He remained chairman of the board. He stood down as chairman in February 2014 but remained to serve on the board until 2020. He was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom during this time (2016). The Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates documentary series premiered in 2019. Two years later, Gates divorced his wife.
It remains to be seen whether Gates’s unprecedented achievement can secure him a permanent place in the pantheon of American greats. At the absolute least, historians will undoubtedly consider him as a business magnate as influential to the computer industry as John D. Rockefeller was to the oil industry. In his 1995 best-seller The Road Ahead, in which he made the observation, “Success is a poor instructor,” Bill Gates showed a keen awareness of the dangers of wealth. It convinces intelligent people that they cannot lose.”