Bill Gates Biography: Success Story of Microsoft Co-Founder

Bill Gates Biography

Bill Gates

In this success story, we are going to share Bill Gates biography, a prominent American entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist with a terrific career in a development of software for personal-computers. He is the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, one of the most recognized brands in the computer industry; nearly every computer has at least one Microsoft product installed.

The life story of Bill Gates reminds an American dream. Due to the hard work, he has achieved not only the prosperity of the company, but also the title of one of the richest people on Earth.

Gates has been No. 1 for many years on the Bloomberg Billionaires List, but Carlos Slim Helu took No. 1 spot in 2010. And in May 2013, with a fortune of $72 billion Bill Gates became the richest man on the planet again and retook the world’s richest title from Carlos Slim. Bill Gates’ net worth was $79.3 billion as of April 09, 2015.

Early Life

William Henry “Bill” Gates III was born on October 28, 1955 in Seattle, Washington in a fairly wealthy family of William Henry “Bill” Gates, Sr. – a successful attorney and Mary Maxwell Gates – a former school teacher, who later became a member of the Board of Directors of the First Interstate Bank.

Being a child, Bill Gates already possessed a prospective businessman talent, especially in mathematics. It is not accidental that at school he scored 800 points in the mathematical part of the intelligence test, showing the best result. However, the family expected Bill Gates to follow his father’s steps and enter Harvard Law School.

In 1968, when Bill and his high school friend Paul Allen went to middle school, the school administration decided to buy a computer time from the General Electric Company. At that time, the system based on DEC PDP-10 micro-architecture was a basis on the market. Later, he said: “When I was thirteen, my school (Lakeside School) installed a teletype machine. From that point on, my friends and I spent most of our free time writing programs and figuring out how to make the computer to do interesting things.” The school administration had underestimated its students – the whole year of the computer time was used in a few weeks. Fortunately, a new student arrived in Lakeside, whose father worked as a senior programmer in Computer Center Corporation (CCC). The new contract allowed Gates and his friends to continue their experiments.

Young hackers quickly figured out the intricacies of the machine, found the weaknesses and started causing trouble – they broke the defense, which on several occasions led to a system failure and changed the files that contained records of computer time. CCC noticed that breach, and set them aside from working with computers for a few weeks.

Meanwhile, the company’s business began to suffer from constant failures and poor protection. Remembering the destructive activities of computer users from Lakeside, CCC invited Bill Gates and his friends to identify flaws and security holes. As a payment, the company offered endless computer time for young hackers. Sure thing, Bill and his friends could not refuse. Since that day boys couldn’t say if it was a day or night outside – they were hanging out in the lab all the time.  For instance, one project of Gates was a program for scheduling classes. ‘Somehow’, it constantly redefined Bill to the classes with the prettiest girls. In addition to troubleshooting, they studied each material on automated calculations and improved their skills.

Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose. – Bill Gates Click To Tweet

In 1969, at the Computer Center Corporation experienced difficulties once again, and in 1970, it declared itself a bankrupt. The Lakeside’s students lost their job and access to computer time. Paul Allen’s father was working at the University of Washington and had an access to the computer center. Young programmers got down to business looking for an area where to apply their knowledge. In 1971, the Information Sciences hired Bill Gates and Paul Allen to create software that would be make-up payroll sheet. In addition to unlimited computer time employers have agreed to pay the developers every time their software will bring the company profit.

The young programmers regularly received orders. Bill Gates was the initiator who said: “Let’s call the real world, and sell it something.” And the most interesting thing that he did find clients and sold them his software. For example, once he developed software to optimize road traffic and sold it for $20,000 dollars. He was only 15 years old!

Bill Gates’ parents were extremely frightened of the enthusiasm of their son and by a willful decision they banned him from computer projects. For a year, Bill did not approach the object of his passion, reading the biographies of famous people from Napoleon to Roosevelt. By the age of seventeen Gates received a proposal for writing a software package for Bonneville Dam, which his parents didn’t reject. For a one-year work on this project Gates received $30,000 dollars.

In 1973, Bill Gates entered Harvard University, intending either to follow the footsteps of his father or to become a professor of Mathematics. Later Bill admitted that his heart wasn’t in it. Most of his time spent at Harvard: he was playing pinball, bridge, or poker. Paul Allen, Bill’s friend, often visited him on weekends, and they were debating about the prospects of opening their own company.

One day, Paul got a job in Honeywell, a company in Boston and learned about the Altair 8800 personal computer created by MITS. Gates had enough courage to offer MITS to use BASIC on this personal computer.

Of course, Bill Gates was cunning that the language is specifically designed for Altair, but the program showed a perfect match from the very first time. This option satisfied the managers, who offered young people the work on creating programming languages.

Establishment and Development of Microsoft

In June, 1975, Bill Gates creates a company for software development and names it Microsoft (the first version was Micro-Soft). Despite of the hard work of its employees, the company at first experienced some difficulties with distribution of any software products. The company did not have enough money to hire a good sales manager, so this function was performed by Bill Gates’ mother Mary Maxwell Gates.

Early next year, Gates and Allen found out that the income of the company has dropped to the lowest affordable point. Its main reason was so called ‘piracy’ – illegal copying of software and the use of it without permission of the creator. Many people simply copied the MS-Basic and handed it to someone else. Realizing this, Bill Gates was furious, especially because ‘piracy’ was depriving him from the well-earned income. In addition, these copies contained some mistakes which he wanted to reduce before the formal release of MS-Basic. Gates wrote an open letter in February 1976, which was published in a newsletter for Altair users. In response, the Gates Foundation has received 300 letters, but only a few of them contained a check.

Bill Gates was the very first to state the need in a protection of the software. His actions have made an incredible contribution to the gradual introduction of a thought that a computer program is a product of creativity and therefore must be protected in the same way as a musical composition or a literary work.

In 1976, it became obvious that Bill Gates could not continue his studies and manage a growing company at the same time. In December, he left the university, despite of all the objections of his parents, and fully engaged with the business. At that time, he was only twenty one.

If you can't make it good, at least make it look good. – Bill Gates Click To Tweet

Then, the young businessmen got a lucky strike and the profit of Microsoft sales reached $500,000 dollars for the 1977 financial year. The company, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, had a staff of 13 people. Paul Allen and Gates were engaged in organizational issues: Paul was responsible for the development of new software, and Bill communicated with the computer manufactures, and ran daily operations of the company

In 1979, Bill received an offer from IBM to create an operating system for the world’s first personal computer. However, Bill Gates was forced to deny the proposal of IBM, as he did not have any drafts for creating OS at the moment. Therefore, the CEO of Microsoft was forced to recommend IBM to seek help from its competitor Digital Research, which later will be the developer of the OS for IBM personal computer.

Meanwhile, Microsoft buys a ‘crude’ operating system 86-DOS for $50,000 dollars from the Seattle Computer and hires Tim Paterson, the creator of 86-DOS. Bill Gates’s company greatly refined 86-DOS, and soon the world saw MS-DOS, which Microsoft offered to use as the main OS for IBM personal computer, thus beating Digital Research. In September 1980, IBM signed a detailed contract with Microsoft. This contract was destined to change the history of the personal computer industry. Both IBM and Microsoft benefited from it. Gates’ main competitor Digital Research changed the course of business and they were no longer involved in the competition.

In 1981, Microsoft becomes a corporation, the management of which is shared between Bill Gates and Paul Allen. In the same year, IBM introduces its personal computer with 16-bit operating system MS-DOS. In addition, the IBM PC includes other Microsoft products such as BASIC, COBOL, Pascal and others.

From Bill Gates biography we learned that in 1982, Gates convinced IBM management that MS-DOS should be sold under the license and other computer manufacturers, thereby making the competition of Apple, which was selling its computers based on its own operating system.

In 1983, The Microsoft Hardware group (formed in 1982) creates a manipulator called ‘Mouse’ for an easy data input into a computer with a graphical user interface. In the same year, the corporation presents a text editor for MS-DOS. In addition to all of these, the company of Bill Gates announced Windows – the extension of the operating system for MS-DOS as a universal operating environment for graphics applications.

In 1986, Microsoft entered the IPO market and during just one day one share cost grew up from $22 to $28 dollars. It goes without saying that since this then, Microsoft started to dominate an entire industry – it owned about 44 percent of all profits software market. It also kept other companies from growing. In 1991, Mitch Kapor, the founder of Lotus Development Corp. declared in his interview: “The revolution is over, and the free-wheeling innovation in the software industry has ground to a halt. For me it’s the Kingdom of the Dead.”

This statement is confirmed by the fact, that in 1993, the number of registered users of Microsoft Windows reached 25 million people. Thus, Windows becomes the most popular operating system in the world with a graphical interface. Microsoft also released Windows NT – a number of operating systems designed for workstations and servers.

Two years later, the Microsoft Corporation deployed Windows 95. The excitement about its sale was so great that in a line to a store one could find even people who did not have a computer. Just in one year, 25 million copies of Windows 95 were sold.

In 1996-97, the company launched the next generation of Microsoft Windows NT (4.0 and 5.0), which were significantly modified, compared to the first version of the software.

In 1998, brand-new Windows 98 sees the world. There were not too many changes made, with the exception of improved internal functions. Then, Microsoft creates Windows 2000. Later, it’s going to be called the best corporate operating system.

Code named ‘Longhorn’ in the early development stages, Windows Vista was released on January 30, 2007. It had the strongest security system ever and a matching Office suite, Microsoft Office 2007.

Windows 7 was built for the wireless world which arose in the late 2000s. By the time of its release, laptops were outselling desktops, and it had become common to connect to public wireless networks in coffee shops and private one at home.

In 2012, Windows 8 introduced major changes to the operating system’s platform in order to improve its user experience on tablets, where Windows was now competing with mobile operating systems, including Android and iOS. In particular, these changes included a touch-optimized Windows shell based on Microsoft’s Metro design, the Start, and other innovations. Windows 8.1 was released a year later. It addresses some aspects of Windows 8, which were criticized by users and reviewers. In one interview Bill Gates told that he was very proud of Windows 8 operating system. Windows 10 wes released in July 2015. It includes Edge browser, the new Microsoft browser that substitutes Internet Explorer. Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for Windows 7 andf Windows 8/8.1 during the first year ater the release.

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. – Bill Gates Click To Tweet

Bill Gates Quitting Microsoft Corporation

In early January 2008, during the opening ceremony of the Consumer Electronics Show, Bill said that by the beginning of July he is going to leave Microsoft. He announced that from now he is putting all his efforts into Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which main objective is to support projects in education and health care.

Since the end of June, 2008, Gates has retired from an active management at Microsoft. He gave his authority to Steve Ballmer, at the same time extending a zone of responsibility for Craig Mundie and Ray Ozzie. This trio now determines the course of the company. Despite of this, Bill Gates is still a chairman of the Board of Directors (but non-executive), and remains the largest shareholder, with 6.4 percent of the common stock.

On February 04, 2014 Bill Gates decided to resign as the Chairman of the Board and will work directly with the new CEO Satya Nadella as an advisor on technology. Thus, Gates will directly affect the operation of Microsoft, but at the same time is deprived of the post of the Chairman, which he held since 1981.

Bill Gates Personality Traits

One of the most important qualities of Bill Gates is his ability to recognize a truly talented person. “I don’t hire fools,” he said once. Sometimes Gates himself conducted interviews for a vacant position and, if necessary, called and tried to persuade a candidate he favored. Despite of the fact that Bill Gates really appreciates his own time, he also realizes that the most important thing in business is intellectual capital. His team consists of the best minds, the strongest programmers of the world. In a language of management, Bill Gates is the first capitalist of intellectual property. Bill Gates’ life story will long be studied as a good example of a great business.

His desire to head the top of the list no matter what it takes paid off – the dominance in the global market of computer industry for a few decades is not that easy to achieve! As of April 09, 2015, Microsoft Windows operating system market share reached 91.02%, which confirms a success of the Microsoft company. However, Bill Gates seems to be indifferent to these numbers, “Success is a bad teacher. It makes smart people think that they can’t lose.”

Another personality trait of this man is pragmatism in everything. Work, work, and work again – this is the core idea of Bill Gates. Rest is considered to be a sign of weakness, so he works hard every day. He says that there is no time for hesitation as the value of what you have achieved very quickly comes to zero, and in the world of computers it is the most noticeable. They say that if you mastered a new program it means that it is already outdated. If it’s true at the user’s level, what would it be for the creator’s?

Recognition and Philanthropy

Bill Gates has got recognition all around the world for his accomplishments. He received his doctorates from the following universities:

  • Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholm, Sweden).
  • Nyenrode Business Universiteit, (Breukelen, The Netherlands, 2000).
  • Tsinghua University (Beijing, China, April 2007).
  • Harvard University (Cambridge, USA, June 2007).
  • Karolinska Institutet (Stockholm, Sweden, 2007).
  • Cambridge University (Cambridge, USA, June 2009)

In 2007, Gates became an honorary trustee of Peking University.

Also while being a student, Gates got inspired of the philanthropic work of John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. In 2000, Gates together with his wife Melinda founded Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support low-income countries.

In 2005, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Bill Gates an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) and he could use the post-nominal letters KBE after his name. In November 2006, the Mexican government awarded Bill Gates and his wife Melinda Gates with the Order of the Aztec Eagle for their philanthropic contributions in the world’s development, especially in the health and education spheres.

Time magazine named Bill Gates one the 100 persons who most influenced the world in the 20th century. Additionally, Time magazine named Gates, his wife Melinda and the U2s lead singer Bono as the Persons of the Year of 2005.

The Franklin Institute awarded Gates with 2010 Bower Award for Business Leadership for his accomplishments at Microsoft Corporation and his philanthropic work.

On January 05, 2015 Bill Gates presented an ingenious machine called Omniprocessor that turns feces into clean drinking water. This installation will help 2.5 billion people in the world suffering from a shortage of drinking water.

It was developed by Janicki engineering company that is headed by CEO Peter Janicki and funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Omniprocessor can be a great win-win investment for small and middle-class entrepreneurs in the developing countries. Entrepreneurs who invest into the machine will get paid for the input: sludge. And that same entrepreneurs will get paid for the outputs: electricity, water and ash. Later this year, it is going to be set up in Dakar, Senegal as the pilot project.

Bill Gates noted that the Omniprocessor could handle waste from 100,000 people, producing up to 86,000 liters of drinking water per day and a net 250 kW of electricity.

In the video posted below, Peter Janicki and Bill Gates explains how it works.

Family and Passions

Gates is a good example of a family man – he married Melinda French in 1994, who then became Melinda Gates. In 1996, their first daughter, Jennifer, was born. Rory John Gates saw the word in 1999; three years later he’s got a little sister – Phoebe.

Bill first met Melinda on some Microsoft press briefing in New York in 1987. As he figured out, she worked in his company for quite a long time. Melinda left the business by marrying its owner. Now they live in a large house nearby Seattle, as Microsoft headquarters is also located in the Seattle suburb.

Gates is fond of cars – what man does not like a high speed? He owns a number of them among which there is Porsche 930 Turbo, Porsche 959 Coupe, and Porsche Carrera 911 Cabriolet 964. In one of his interviews Gates confessed that he never used a seat belt.

Only very few people know that Gates is also a talented writer. In 1995, Bill Gates published the book The Road Ahead, which was co-written with Nathan Myhrvold, formerly Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft, and a journalist Peter Rinearson. For seven weeks, The Road to the Future headed the list of best sellers by New York Times.

In 1999, Bill Gates wrote one more book Business @ the Speed of Thought, which explains how information technology can solve business problems in a completely new way. This book was created in collaboration with Collins Hemingway, and was translated into 25 languages.

As of March 2015, 118,584 employees worked at Microsoft Corporation. In 2015, the company’s revenue reached $93.58 billion.

A lot of things may be said about Gates, they may be both positive and negative. However, one thing is clear – not to recognize his influence is impossible. We hope you have enjoyed exploring Bill Gates biography and success story of Microsoft Corporation.

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