Bill Gates is often seen as one of the godfathers of the home computer, alongside his friend and business partner Paul Allen.
During his nearly 66 years of life, he has managed to create and advance entire industries.
Technology-savvy people see Gates as one of the greatest minds and businessmen of modern times.
Was Bill Gates Born Rich?
Yes, Bill Gates was born into an upper-middle class family that had multiple homes around their home state.
While his parents may not have had as much personal wealth, his mother’s family was quite wealthy.
William Henry Gates, III was born on October 25th, 1955 in Seattle, Washington.
His parents, William Gates II (a.k.a. Bill Sr.) and Mary Maxwell, met in college while Mary was working in student affairs and Bill Sr. was studying law.
Both of his parents were highly motivated achievers and were always looking to do their best, which is something they passed down to Bill and his two sisters.
The pressure and support Bill Gates got from his parents helped him gain a craving for knowledge and success from an early age.
In the summer, his mother would set up game days where the family would play games outside together and get playfully competitive.
The Gates family would often play board games together, with Risk and Monopoly being some of Bill Gates’s favorites as a child.
The time spent playing with his family helped create a strong, warm bond between them and gave all three of the Gates kids a taste for competition.
From an early age, Bill Gates knew the importance of giving back to the community from his mother.
Mary Maxwell worked on the boards of different charities and civil affairs organizations while raising her three children, giving them a charitable example to look up to.
Maxwell served on the corporal board of the bank that her grandfather had started, the First Interstate Bank in Seattle.
She also served on the board for United Way and International Business Machines.
Bill Gates’s parents poured money into the hobbies and education of their children, which helped Gates excel in school.
They also helped fuel Gates’s early love of reading and learning.
Bill Gates’s Introduction To Computers
Bill Gates was an incredibly bright student, always excelling in his classes.
By the time he was 11 years old, he began to get bored in school and would withdraw his attention from class.
This concerned his parents who did not want him getting lazy or cocky.
Instead, his parents sent him to Lakeside School, which was an extremely exclusive preparatory school.
Bill Gates continued to excel in his classes, while also managing to not get bored as easily.
There was plenty at the school to keep Gates on his toes.
The Mother’s Club at Lakeside School wanted to get the students a teletype terminal for the students to learn on.
At the time, this was considered vastly beyond what any public school could ever dream of offering.
The mothers managed to earn the money necessary through a rummage sale.
The school allowed students to enjoy the machine and Bill was enthralled with it.
Whenever Gates had free time, he would run to the teletype terminal to figure it out.
Once he learned the ropes, he began working on projects.
After a lot of time and dedication spent at the massive machine, Bill Gates managed to write the code for a playable game of tic-tac-toe that would be played against the computer. He graduated from Lakeside School in 1973, with an SAT score of 1590 out of 1600.
Years later, Bill Gates would send his own children to the same school and donate $40 million to the institution.
He claimed that Lakeside School was the best thing that ever happened to him.
Lakeside School is also the place where Bill Gates met his lifelong friend, Paul Allen.
Without Lakeside School, there may have never been a Microsoft company.
The dedication to its students has allowed them to help raise many incredible minds.
Becoming A College Dropout
When Bill Gates first went away to college, he thought that he wanted to study law, just like his father.
Gates kept up with his beloved hobby of computer science, and it took up a majority of his time in college.
Bill had little to no interest in his law classes and would spend his time in the computer lab rather than studying.
Instead, Gates would simply cram for a test the night before and spend the rest of his week sitting in front of a computer.
Thanks to his love of programming, Gates was excused from math classes.
Living in a dorm down the hall from his own was future Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer.
While in college, Bill Gates and Paul Allen worked together to write BASIC software for MITS, the creators of the Altair 800.
The college students had told MITS that they had written software for the machine when, in reality, they only wanted to pique MITS’s interest.
The pair scrambled to write the code inside the computer lab of Harvard so they would have something to present to the president of MITS in less than two months.
They actually managed to complete their goal, but it was done at the price of their grades, sleep, and sanity.
When they presented their software to MITS, they were both hired on the spot.
As the computer science space began to grow, Bill was seeing more opportunities for a career in computer science and programming.
This led him to drop out of Harvard after two years of schooling at the prestigious university.
His parents, who were both college graduates, were not pleased with Gates’s decision to drop out of Harvard.
Instead, Bill turned his attention towards the business that he and Paul Allen had just started, Microsoft.
The Start Of Microsoft
Bill Gates and Paul Allen’s first project as Microsoft was the BASIC software for the Altair 800.
Although the application was extremely popular, only about 10% of their users actually paid for it.
This limited the number of royalties that Microsoft was earning.
Gates had a major pirating problem on his hands and seemingly no way to stop it.
He wrote an open letter to his users, warning them that the world of computers would never get anywhere if everyone continued to do everything for free.
In 1977, MITS was sold to another company.
After years of combative arguments between the MITS ex-president and lack of interest in the market, the ex-president decided it would be a better idea to go back to medical school rather than stay in the computer science field.
When MITS changed hands, Allen and Gates had to sue the company to retain the rights to software that they had created for MITS.
A couple of years later, Microsoft was moved to a town east of Seattle, Washington.
Things began to start looking brighter by 1979 when the company was grossing $2.5 million.
At this time, Bill Gates made himself the head of Microsoft, which was being run by a total of 27 people.
After seeing the success and the high standards of Microsoft, Mary Maxwell decided to create a connection between her son’s company and the company that she was a member of the board for.
Gates was able to meet with the CEO of IBM through his mother.
Although the CEO first mistook Bill Gates for an office assistant and asked him to bring him a coffee, Gates and his team quickly amazed the CEO.
In 1980, Microsoft began developing software for the first home computer.
Developing For The First Home Computer
Computers weren’t always small enough to fit on a desk.
They actually used to be massive, cabinet-sized machines that would take up nearly the entire height of a wall.
As computers became more advanced, they slowly began to shrink in size.
International Business Machines, better known as IBM, was looking to take the computer market by storm.
They saw the increase in the popularity of computers and video games and wanted to be the ones who led the charge.
While IBM was more than capable of building the machine, they were looking for someone to program their machines in a way that consumers could understand.
That’s when Bill Gates’s mother recommended Microsoft for the job.
Gates had a reputation for being a perfectionist, glancing over any code before it could be sent out.
He promised the CEO of IBM that he had the perfect program for the system, despite not having an operating system that worked on the most recent IBM computers at the time.
Instead, he bought an operating system that was simple and hardly known.
He made sure that Microsoft was the only licensing agent and later took claim to the entire software, allowing them to adjust it as they saw fit.
Bill Gates charged IBM a delivery fee that was the same price that he had paid for the original software, which was $50,000.
IBM wanted to buy the software from Microsoft, but Bill Gates knew that his company would make more money by being able to license the software out to whomever they pleased.
They ended up naming the software MS-DOS and selling it to many different computer companies.
In only a couple of years, the company went from making $2.5 million to $16 million in revenue each year.
In 1981, Microsoft became a corporation.
The Later Years Of Microsoft
While MS-DOS had become popular around the world, it was beginning to show its age.
It was no longer the gold standard that it once was, which didn’t please the competitive perfectionist in Bill Gates.
In 1985, Gates helped Microsoft create their newest operating system, Windows.
When Windows was first released, it was considered incredibly advanced, with drop-down menus, scroll bars, and many other features that had yet to be seen by the public.
With the Windows operating system, Microsoft became the world’s largest personal computer software developer.
Their sales could not be matched by any other programming company.
In 1995, Microsoft created Windows 95, which was the first PC software to include a start menu.
Within five weeks, more than seven million copies of the software were sold.
In the same year, the internet became easier for people to use and was gaining popularity.
Microsoft took advantage of the public’s interest in the internet and created Internet Explorer that same year.
Internet Explorer made browsing the internet simpler for the everyday person to understand.
This helped increase the popularity of Microsoft computers even further.
With Internet Explorer and Windows 95, other software companies like Apple stood little to no chance of competing with the technology titan.
This caused the United States Department of Justice and 20 different state attorneys to sue Microsoft for antitrust laws in 1998
The court believed the overpowering dominance that Microsoft had was squeezing the life out of its competitors.
It would take the company three years in order to finally reach a settlement with the courts.
During this time, Bill Gates no longer wanted to be the one running Microsoft.
In 2000, Steve Ballmer became the CEO of Microsoft while Bill Gates remained chairman of the board and chief software architect.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
In 1994, the Gates Foundation was started by Gates’s father, William Gates II.
The foundation focused on financing scientific research, global health, and philanthropy for local causes.
Bill and Melinda Gates started the Gates Library Foundation in 1997.
Their goal was to give free internet access to all public libraries in the United States in hopes of inspiring learners to take up computer science.
The Gates Library Foundation would later become the Gates Learning Foundation.
The Gates Millennium Scholarship Program was started in 1999 with the hope of getting more minority students into the field of science by offering science degree scholarships.
They’ve helped more than 20,000 minority students to graduate from colleges around the country so far.
In 2000, Bill and Melinda Gates started Sound Families, which looked to lower the number of homeless families in the Puget Sound region.
In eight years, they managed to give homes to 1,450 different families.
It was also the same year that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was started.
Two years after starting the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, they pledged $100 million to a global fund to stop the spread of deadly diseases such as HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
In the areas where the fund has invested, they have managed to decrease the spread of these diseases by 50%.
For two decades, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been working towards bettering the world around us.
The foundations that are under the umbrella of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation still work hard to achieve the dreams of their founders.
Some of their most recent feats as an organization have focused more closely on the health of the world, especially surrounding the pandemic.
The year before the Covid-19 pandemic began, they were able to eradicate type 3 Poliovirus on World Polio Day.
Life Outside Of His Work
Bill Gates prefers to keep himself busy with Microsoft and his charitable efforts.
He doesn’t have much time to himself, but when he does, he is normally spending it with family.
Bill Gates and Melinda French met while she served as one of his product managers.
Similar to his own parents, both Gates and French were go-getters who looked to make everything they did better.
This made them the perfect pair for many years.
They were married in Hawaii in 1994.
Gates lost his mother to breast cancer only a few months after they got married, and the couple took a trip around the world to get a fresh view.
The couple had three children from 1996 to 2002.
Everything seemed perfectly fine with the Gates family until May of 2021, when Bill Gates and Melinda French announced they were getting divorced.
French claimed that their marriage was “irretrievably broken” in her petition for the divorce.
They still plan to run their foundation together, although Bill Gates is ready to buy Melinda French out of the foundation and companies in order to allow her to do her own philanthropic work.
Above all else, Bill Gates is a businessman and an innovator who made it possible for the world to have home computers.
His dedication to his work and passion made it possible for millions of different careers to open up and popularized computer science in a way that integrated it into everyday life.