When was Bill Gates born? William Henry Gates III (born October 28, 1955) is an American business magnate, investor, philanthropist, and writer best known for co-founding the software giant Microsoft, along with his childhood friend Paul Allen. During his career at Microsoft, Gates held the positions of chairman, chief executive officer (CEO), president, and chief software architect, while also being its largest individual shareholder until May 2014. He was a major entrepreneur of the microcomputer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s.
Gates was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. In 1975, he and Allen founded Microsoft in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It later became the world’s largest personal computer software company. Gates led the company as its chairman and chief executive officer until stepping down as CEO in January 2000, succeeded by Steve Ballmer, but he remained chairman of the board of directors and became chief software architect.
During the late 1990s, he was criticized for his business tactics, which were considered anti-competitive. This opinion has been upheld by numerous court rulings. In June 2008, Gates transitioned into a part-time role at Microsoft and full-time work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the private charitable foundation he and his then-wife Melinda had established in 2000.
He stepped down as chairman of the Microsoft board in February 2014 and assumed the role of technology adviser to support newly appointed CEO Satya Nadella. In March 2020, Gates left his board positions at Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway to focus on his philanthropic efforts on climate change, global health and development, and education.
When was Bill Gates born?
William Henry Gates III (Bill) was born on October 28, 1955, in Seattle, Washington. Bill was the second of three children in an upper-middle class family. He enjoyed playing games with the family and was very competitive. He also loved to read. Bill became bored in public school so his family sent him to Lakeside School, a private school, where he excelled in math and science and did well in drama and English.
Gates became interested in computer programming when he was 13, during the era of giant mainframe computers. His school held a fund-raiser to purchase a teletype terminal so students could use computer time that was donated by General Electric. Using this time, Gates wrote a tic-tac-toe program using BASIC, one of the first computer languages.
Later he created a computer version of Risk, a board game he liked in which the goal is world domination. At Lakeside, Bill met Paul Allen, who shared his interest in computers. Gates and Allen and two other students hacked into a computer belonging to Computer Center Corporation (CCC) to get free computer time but were caught. After a period of probation, they were allowed back in the computer lab when they offered to fix glitches in CCC’s software. At age 17, Gates and Allen were paid $20,000 for a program called Traf-O-Data that was used to count traffic.
In early 1973, Bill Gates served as a congressional page in the U.S. House of Representatives. He scored 1590 out of 1600 on the SAT and was accepted by Harvard University. Steve Ballmer, who became CEO of Microsoft after Bill retired, was also a Harvard student. Meanwhile, Paul Allen dropped out of Washington College to work on computers at Honeywell Corporation and convinced Gates to drop out of Harvard and join him in starting a new software company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They called it Micro-Soft. This was soon changed to Microsoft, and they moved their company to Bellevue, Washington.
Meeting and Partnering With Paul Allen
Gates met Allen, who was two years his senior, in high school at Lakeside School. The pair became fast friends, bonding over their common enthusiasm for computers, even though they were very different people. Allen was more reserved and shy. Gates was feisty and at times combative.
Regardless of their differences, Allen and Gates spent much of their free time together working on programs. Occasionally, the two disagreed and would clash over who was right or who should run the computer lab. On one occasion, their argument escalated to the point where Allen banned Gates from the computer lab.
At one point, Gates and Allen had their school computer privileges revoked for taking advantage of software glitches to obtain free computer time from the company that provided the computers. After their probation, they were allowed back in the computer lab when they offered to debug the program. During this time, Gates developed a payroll program for the computer company the boys had hacked into and a scheduling program for the school.
In 1970, at the age of 15, Gates and Allen went into business together, developing “Traf-o-Data,” a computer program that monitored traffic patterns in Seattle. They netted $20,000 for their efforts. Gates and Allen wanted to start their own company, but Gates’ parents wanted him to finish school and go on to college, where they hoped he would work to become a lawyer.
Allen went to Washington State University, while Gates went to Harvard, though the pair stayed in touch. After attending college for two years, Allen dropped out and moved to Boston, Massachusetts, to work for Honeywell. Around this time, he showed Gates an edition of Popular Electronics magazine featuring an article on the Altair 8800 mini-computer kit. Both young men were fascinated with the possibilities of what this computer could create in the world of personal computing.
The Altair was made by a small company in Albuquerque, New Mexico, called Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS). Gates and Allen contacted the company, proclaiming that they were working on a BASIC software program that would run the Altair computer. In reality, they didn’t have an Altair to work with or the code to run it, but they wanted to know if MITS was interested in someone developing such software.
MITS was, and its president, Ed Roberts, asked the boys for a demonstration. Gates and Allen scrambled, spending the next two months writing the BASIC software at Harvard’s computer lab. Allen traveled to Albuquerque for a test run at MITS, never having tried it out on an Altair computer. It worked perfectly. Allen was hired at MITS, and Gates soon left Harvard to work with him. Together they founded Microsoft.
Allen remained with Microsoft until 1983, when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. Though his cancer went into remission a year later with intensive treatment, Allen resigned from the company. Rumors abound as to why Allen left Microsoft. Some say Gates pushed him out, but many say it was a life-changing experience for Allen and he saw there were other opportunities that he could invest his time in.
Microsoft’s Software for IBM PCs
As the computer industry grew, with companies like Apple, Intel and IBM developing hardware and components, Gates was continuously on the road touting the merits of Microsoft software applications. He often took his mother with him. Mary was highly respected and well connected with her membership on several corporate boards, including IBM’s. It was through Mary that Gates met the CEO of IBM.
In November 1980, IBM was looking for software that would operate their upcoming personal computer (PC) and approached Microsoft. Legend has it that at the first meeting with Gates someone at IBM mistook him for an office assistant and asked him to serve coffee.
Gates did look very young, but he quickly impressed IBM, convincing them that he and his company could meet their needs. The only problem was that Microsoft had not developed the basic operating system that would run IBM’s new computers.
Not to be stopped, Gates bought an operating system that was developed to run on computers similar to IBM’s PC. He made a deal with the software’s developer, making Microsoft the exclusive licensing agent and later full owner of the software but not telling them of the IBM deal.
The company later sued Microsoft and Gates for withholding important information. Microsoft settled out of court for an undisclosed amount, but neither Gates nor Microsoft admitted to any wrongdoing.
Gates had to adapt the newly purchased software to work for the IBM PC. He delivered it for a $50,000 fee, the same price he had paid for the software in its original form. IBM wanted to buy the source code, which would have given them the information to the operating system.
Gates refused, instead proposing that IBM pay a licensing fee for copies of the software sold with their computers. Doing this allowed Microsoft to license the software they called MS-DOS to any other PC manufacturer, should other computer companies clone the IBM PC, which they soon did. Microsoft also released software called Softcard, which allowed Microsoft BASIC to operate on Apple II machines.
Following the development of software for IBM, between 1979 and 1981 Microsoft’s growth exploded. Staff increased from 25 to 128, and revenue shot up from $2.5 million to $16 million. In mid-1981, Gates and Allen incorporated Microsoft, and Gates was appointed president and chairman of the board. Allen was named executive vice president.
By 1983, Microsoft was going global with offices in Great Britain and Japan. An estimated 30 percent of the world’s computers ran on its software.
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