Jody Victor Learns about Bill Gates

William (Bill) Henry Gates III was born October 28, 1955 in Seattle, Washington.
Here are some highlights of his life:

  • Began showing an interest in computer programming at age 13 after his parents enrolled him in Lakeside School.
  • He met Paul Allen, 2 years older than him, and they became friends.
  • In 1970 at age 15, Bill gates and Paul Allen went into business together and developed a program called “Traf-o-Data” to monitor traffic patterns in Seattle. They netted $20,000.
  • Bill Gates parents wanted Bill to become a lawyer. He graduated Lakeside in 1973 and scored 1590 out of 1600 on SAT test. After graduating, he enrolled at Harvard University with thoughts of pursuing a law career.
  • His friend Paul Allen dropped out of Washington State University and went to Boston to work for Honeywell. Bill joined Allen at Honeywell the summer of 1974.
  • They came across an ad for the Altair 8800 mini-computer kit and were fascinated with the possibilities. The Altair was made by Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) in Albuquerque, NM, and they contacted the company to offer a BASIC software program.
  • Allen was hired at MITS and Gates left Harvard to work with him.
  • Together they formed a partnership called Micro-Soft (blend of “microcomputer” and “software”. They dropped the hyphen within a year.
  • Microsoft’s BASIC software became popular with hobbyists but only about 10 percent of the people actually paid for it. He considered them as stealing. He believed software should be licensed.
  • In 1977, MITS was sold and Gates and Allen, left on their own, had to sue the new owner to retain the software rights they developed.
  • Microsoft wrote their software in different formats so other computer companies could use it. At the end of 1978, they moved the company to Bellevue, Washington. There were 25 employees at this time. Bill Gates was 23 and his company grossed $2.5 million.
  • In 1980, IBM was looking for personal computer (PC) operating systems. Gates bought an operating system developed to be run on similar computers and adapted it for IBM’s machines. He called this MS-DOS. He chareged them a $50,000 fee – what he paid for the original software. When IBM asked for the code, he refused saying they should pay licensing fees to fun copies of it. Doing this allowed them to license his operating systems to other PC manufacturers.
  • From 1978 to 1981 Microsoft increased staff from 25 to 128. Revenue went to $16 million. Gates was appointed president and chairman of the board while Allen became executive vice-president.
  • By 1983, Microsoft was global. This year, Allen was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease and resigned from the company.
  • In 1981 Microsoft was invited to help develop software for Macintosh. It was through this collaboration that Bill saw he needed to change to a more graphical and user-friendly operating system.
  • In 1985, Windows was launched.
  • In 1986, Microsoft was taken public with an IPO of $21 per share. Gates held 45 percent of the 24.7 million shares and became a millionaire at 31. The company’s stock has increased in value and split numerous times. In 1987, Bill Gates became a billionaire when the stock rose to $90.75 per share.
  • With the influence of his wife, Melinda, who he married in 1994, he began to realize he had an obligation to give more of his wealth to charity. He studied the works of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller and he and Melinda established the William H. Gates Foundation to support education, world health and investment in low-income communities.
  • In 2000, the couple combined several family foundations to form the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and contributed $28 billion. Bill Gates also stepped down from the operations of Microsoft turning CEO job over to Steve Ballmer. He became a chief software architect so he could concentrate on his passion.
  • In 2006, with his involvement in his foundation he announced he was stepping away from full-time work at Microsoft. His last full day was in the summer of 2008.
  • Time Magazine named Gates one of the most influential people of the 20th century. He holds several honorary doctorates from universities around the world. He is an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II. He and Melinda were awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle by the Mexican government for their philanthropy throughout the world.

Jody Victor hopes you are impressed with Bill Gates’ philanthropy and will give to charity as you can afford.

Jody Victor learned about Bill Gates on this biography site.