Born in Oct 1955 in Seattle in Washington, Bill Gates (William Henry Gates III), the world-renowned entrepreneur started showing an interest in computers and programming at the young age of 13.
He and his business partner, Paul Allen went on to building Microsoft, the largest software company in the world and it also catapulted Gates into the league of the richest and most influential people in the world. In Feb 2014 Gates finally announced that he would be stepping-down from his Chairman’s post at Microsoft.
Gates wrote his 1st software program at the very young age of 13. While he was in high school, he helped in forming a small group of programmers. Collectively, they computerised the payroll system that was being used by their school. They also founded a company named Traf-O-Data, which sold innovative traffic counting systems to the local government.
The Successful Team
In 1975 while Bill Gates was a sophomore at Harvard University, he joined Paul G. Allen, his hometown friend to develop new and innovative software for the very first microcomputers. They started by adapting BASIC, an extremely popular programming language that was utilized on the large computers, and made it compatible for use in microcomputers. Once this project met with success, he left Harvard while he was in his junior year & formed Microsoft in collaboration with Allen.
The Shrewd Businessman
The company moved from strength to strength after they licensed MS-DOS, the OS to IBM. At that point, International Business Machines Corporation was the biggest computer supplier in the world and an industry trendsetter as well. This OS was used by IBM in their personal computers. Soon after, the relationship between Microsoft and IBM went through turbulent waters, but Gates was a very shrewd businessman and he manipulated the larger company in such a manner that he monopolised supply of crucial software to them. By the early-1990s Gates had risen to be the monarch of the PC industry.
Riding a Wave of Success
Within a decade his net-worth had exceeded tens of billions of dollars. By some estimates, he was also the richest private individual in the world. At the outset, he preferred to stay out of the public eye and all philanthropic and civic affairs were handled indirectly via a foundation. Over the years, his approach to these pursuits changed and he transformed into a more public figure. Rivals called him duplicitous and driven while staunch supporters praised him for his flexibility, uncanny business acumen and amazing capacity to find ways and means of making PC’s & electronics much more useful with the use of software.
From 1995-1996, Gates feverishly re-strategized the company’s business approach and started prioritising enterprise & consumer software solutions. He also developed the Windows CE OS platform for networking as well as non-computer devices such as TV’s & personal digital assistants. He also launched the Microsoft Network to rival America Online as well as a number of other Internet providers.
Philanthropy and More
Gates holds numerous honorary doctorates from top tier universities across the world. Queen Elizabeth II also awarded him an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of-the British Empire. Gates is known for his charity work. In 1994, he and his wife Melinda launched the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
They focused on funding global healthcare programs & projects in the Pacific-Northwest as well as scholarship programs in the U.S. Gates is undoubtedly an inspiration for startups and entrepreneurs across the world. Despite his success in the business world, he always has his feet planted firmly on the ground. He is and will remain one of the most revered business leaders of all time.
About the Author
Ben Fewtrell is a sought-after Business Coach, Keynote Speaker and trainer who has featured in Virgin’s Inflight Magazine and Entertainment Portal, SKY Business and “Secrets of Top Business Builders Exposed”. He is also the host of the popular Business Brain Food Podcast where he interviews leading experts on anything and everything business.