William Henry Gates III, popularly known as Bill Gates was born at an affluent family on October 28, 1955, in Seattle, Washington. He is an American computer programmer and entrepreneur who co-founded Microsoft corporation, the world’s largest personal computer software company.
From his very early days, Bill was competitive, intelligent and ambitious. His parents knowing about his intelligence, enrolled him at a private school which was popular for its intense academic environment. This is where he was first introduced to computers. He and his friends who shared the same enthusiasm about computers formed the ‘Programmers Club‘ in late 1968.
The next year, they got their first big opportunity to showcase their talents when they were selected as programmers in the Information Sciences Inc. The ISI agreed to give them a certain portion of money, whenever it made money from any of the group’s program. As a result, their group became a legal business after they signed a deal which was with the ISI.
Later, Bill Gates and his close friend Paul Allen formed a new company of their own, called Trade-O-Data. They earned 20,000 USD from this project where they developed a small computer to measure traffic flow. This company came to a standstill when he graduated from college and enrolled in Harvard University in 1973.
But despite being into one of the best universities in the country, he did not like it at Harvard. He preferred staying home and playing video games rather than attending classes. Gates and his best buddy Paul Allen remained in close contact with each other. They would often discuss ideas about their future projects and forming a huge company someday. In order to pass more times with each other, Allen and Gates took a job at Honeywell next summer. Allen continued pushing Gates for opening a new software company.
In one such discussions Allen showed Gates a magazine article about Altair 8800. Seeing a small window of opportunity, they called the President of MITS, the manufacturer of Altair and told him that they have written a version of the popular computer language Basic for their computer.
When the President said he would like to see it, both the young programmers started working day in and day out at the computer lab of Harvard to develop this program. When Allen visited Albuquerque, Mexico, the Headquarters of MITS, to run the program for Altair, neither he nor Gates were sure whether the program will run or not. But it did run and Gates dropped out from Harvard and moved in with Allen to Albuquerque where they established Microsoft.
MITS collapsed shortly but Microsoft started building software for different companies by then. Their influence over the then new but thriving microcomputer industry increased when Microsoft licensed an operating system called MS DOS to International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), which was at that time, the biggest computer supplier of the world, for use on IBM PC, its first microcomputer.
Very soon, MS DOS became the standard operating system of the country, because it was cheaper and more effective. As a result, the sales of Microsoft increased from 7 million USD in 1980 to 16 million USD in 1981. The first real threat that Microsoft faced came in 1984, when Apple introduced Macintosh computer.
Its sleek Graphical User Interface was easier to use than MS-DOS. To tackle this visible threat, Gates announced that Microsoft was developing its own GUI based operating system called windows. But in 1985, when windows was first introduced, it did not create a huge buzz according to the expectation of Gates. The critics also thought that it was slow.
To add further salt to the wounds, Apple sued Microsoft because they thought the windows was an exact copy of the Macintosh operating system. This case would continue for more than four years until 1990 when the court decided that the case of Apple had no merit. Meanwhile, Gates worked continuously to develop windows and it started getting faster and froze less frequently then its original 1985 version.
Suddenly Microsoft based application programs became the best sellers and by 1993 windows were selling at a rate of 1 million copy per year. It was estimated that windows was running on around 85 percent of the world’s computer. By the year 1999, the sales of Microsoft reached 19.7 billion USD and the personal wealth of Gates reached 90 billion USD.
But the competitors of Microsoft started complaining that Gates has created a monopoly in the industry to retard the growth of any new technology. In the year 1998, an antitrust lawsuit was filed against the company over its practice of bundling software with windows by the US Department of Justice. In November 1999, an US District Court ruled that the company indeed had monopoly over the marker.
In the verdict, the court also remarked that Microsoft was engaged in vindictive tactics of slowing down or jeopardizing the growth of any new technology which might threaten their multi-million dollar industry. In 2002, Microsoft agreed to stop some of its objectionable practices at a court settlement.
In personal life, Bill Gates is married to Melinda Gates. In 1994, they launched William H. Gates foundation, currently Bill Gates and Melinda Gates foundation to fund global health programs. They funded North American libraries through Gates Library foundation.
Warren Buffet announced a gift for their foundation which would allow its total assets to increase 60 million USD over the next 20 years. Over the years the foundation continued its good work on global health and development as well as contributing to the development of community and education of USA. In 2014, he stepped down as the chairman of Microsoft but continued to serve the company as a board member.
In 2016, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. At the age 31, he became the youngest American billionaire way back in 1987 which was a world record until 2010 when Mark Zuckerberg broke it. He was also knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2005. He and his wife Melinda was in the covers of Time Magazine’s ‘Persons of the year’ in 2005.
At the end, we can conclude by saying that Bill Gates is a polarized character in the computer industry. Some see him as an innovative genius who initiated a revolution in the computer industry while others view him as an obnoxious robber whose activities have killed the possibilities of any sort of positive competition in the software industry.
You might like him or you might hate him, but you cannot argue with the fact that he is one of the most successful entrepreneur of the modern era who has taken a mere two man startup to a multi-billion dollar business within a very short time.