Bill Gates, in full William Henry Gates III, is an American computer programmer and entrepreneur who co-founded Microsoft Corporation, the world’s largest personal-computer software company. He was born on October 28, 1955, in Seattle, Washington, U.S. Gates is known for his significant contributions to the development of the personal computer industry and his philanthropic efforts through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Early Life and Education
Gates wrote his first software program at the age of 13, showcasing his early interest and talent in computer programming. In high school, he formed a group of programmers who computerized their school’s payroll system and founded Traf-O-Data, a company that sold traffic-counting systems to local governments.
In 1975, Gates joined his hometown friend Paul G. Allen to develop software for the first microcomputers. They adapted BASIC, a popular programming language used on large computers, for use on microcomputers. This project’s success led Gates to leave Harvard University during his junior year and form Microsoft with Allen.
Microsoft and Success
Gates’s influence in the microcomputer industry grew significantly when Microsoft licensed an operating system called MS-DOS to International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) for use on its first microcomputer, the IBM PC. This partnership with IBM established Microsoft as a key player in the industry and pushed out competing operating systems.
As the PC industry’s ultimate kingmaker, Gates amassed a huge fortune as Microsoft’s largest individual shareholder. By the 1990s, his net worth had reached into the tens of billions of dollars, making him one of the world’s richest individuals.
Philanthropy and Charitable Work
In addition to his work at Microsoft, Gates is known for his philanthropic efforts. In 1994, he and his then-wife Melinda launched the William H. Gates Foundation, which was later renamed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation funds global health programs, projects in the Pacific Northwest, and other charitable initiatives.
Gates and Melinda also funded North American libraries through the Gates Library Foundation and raised money for minority study grants through the Gates Millennium Scholars program. In 2006, Warren Buffett announced an ongoing gift to the foundation, allowing its assets to total roughly $60 billion in the next 20 years.
In June 2008, Gates stepped down from his day-to-day oversight of Microsoft to devote more time to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He continued to serve as a board member until 2020.
Legacy and Impact
Bill Gates’s extraordinary success in the computer industry and his philanthropic efforts have made him a prominent figure in both business and philanthropy. Historians are likely to view him as a business figure as important to computers as John D. Rockefeller was to oil.
Gates’s nimble response to the rise of the Internet and his focus on developing software solutions for the Internet played a significant role in Microsoft’s continued success. His business acumen, flexibility, and dedication to making computers and electronics more useful through software have shaped the industry.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When was Bill Gates born?
Bill Gates was born on October 28, 1955.
How did Bill Gates become famous?
Bill Gates became famous for co-founding Microsoft Corporation, the world’s largest personal-computer software company.
Where did Bill Gates go to college?
Bill Gates attended Harvard University but dropped out during his junior year to focus on developing software for microcomputers.
What are Bill Gates’s major accomplishments?
Bill Gates’s major accomplishments include co-founding Microsoft, revolutionizing the personal computer industry, and establishing the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for philanthropic work.