Bill Gates (1955)

Bill Gates

1955 On the 28th of October, inventor William Henry Gates III was born in Seattle, Washington. He is an American business magnate, philanthropist, investor, computer programmer, and inventor. He started to be interested in PC programming since he was 13 years old within Lakeside School. He practiced his hobby also during college. He launched, by his own, together with his friend and business partner Paul Allen, a software company which would change the world. He found himself in the right place and in the right moment. By technological innovation they built the biggest software company in the world, Microsoft. Business strategy and aggressive competitive tactics made him become one of the richest men in the world.

Bill Gates grew up with his two sisters; Kristianne, the eldest, and Libby, who is younger. Their father, William H. Gates Sr. was a promising law student, somewhat shy when he met his future wife, Mary Maxwell.  She was an athletic student who stopped her activity at University in Washington, actively implied in students and leading problems.  Gates had a warm family atmosphere and almost all three kids were encouraged to be competitive and to make efforts for performance. Bill showed early signs of competitiveness, when he coordinated athletic games at their summer house in Puget Sound. He also liked board games (he liked a lot risking), his favourite being Monopoly.

Bill had a close relation with his mother, Maria, who, after a short career as a teacher, dedicated her time to grow up her children, to civic activities and charities. She also took part in many corporate boards, like Interstate Bank in Seattle (founded by her grandfather), United Way and International Business Machines (IBM). She took Bill many times when she worked as a volunteer in local schools and organizations. 

Being a child, Bill was a duteous reader and he spent much time with reference books, like encyclopedia. Around 11 or 12 years old, Bill’s parents started to have problems regarding his behaviour. Even if at school everything was well, he seemed bored and solitary sometimes. His parents were worried he could become a lonely one. Even if they were confident in public  education, they registered Bill to an exclusive preparatory school, to Lakeside School, in Seattle, when he was 13. He flourished in all subjects, being very good at Maths and Science and he was also very good at theatre and English language.

At a moment, at Lakeside School, a PC company from Seattle offered, for a while, a computer for students. His mother’s club achieved a teletype terminal for students’ application. Bill Gates got enchanted by what a computer could do and spent a lot of his spare time on this terminal. He wrote a tic-tac-toe programme using computer’s basic language which allowed users to play against PC.

During he was at Lakeside School, Bill met Paul Allen, who was two years elder than him. They got friends immediately because of their common hobby for computers. Gates developed a payroll program and one for school planning.

1970 Being 15, Bill Gates joined business with his friend, Paul Allen. They developed “Traf-o-Data”, a PC program which monitored traffic in Seattle and earned 20.000 dollar for their efforts. Gates and Allen wanted to begin their own company, but Bill’s parents wanted him to graduate school attending the university hoping to become a lawyer.

1973 Bill Gates graduated Lakeside. He joined Harvard University starting with autumn, initially thinking to a career in law. In the first year he spent a big part of his free time in Informatics lab, and not in the classroom. He did not have a genuine study regime.

Gates remained in a good relationship with Paul Allen who, after taking part in Washington State University for two years, he gave up and moved to Boston, Massachusetts.

1974 During summer he went near Allen to Honeywell.

1975 Gates and Allen created a partnership called Micro-Soft, a mix of “micro-computer” and “software products”. They launched MS-DOS operating system.

1976 In February, Gates wrote an open letter to people crazy about computers in which he continued telling that software distribution and use without paying “hamper good soft to be accomplished”. Pointedly, piracy’s software would discourage developers to invest time and money for creating the quality software. The letter was unpopular with computer enthusiasts, but Gate remained to his believes using threat as a means of defence when he faced accusations of unfair trade practices.

1978 Microsoft wrote software in different formats for companies that were producers of computers and, at the end of the year, Gates moved his society’s operations to Bellevue Washington, in the East of Seattle. Bill Gates was happy to be again at home. His all 25 employees of the new company had wide tasks for everything concerned to products’ exploitation and development, business increasing and marketing. By his sagacity for software development and a sharp feeling for business, Gates appointed himself as boss of Microsoft, which grossed 2.5 million dollar in 1978. Bill was only 23 years old.

1978-1981 During this time, Microsoft growth exploded and the staff increased from 25 to 128 employees. Income also increased from 4 million dollar to 16 million. Gates was appointed president of corporation. Allen was appointed executive vice president.

1983 Starting with this year Microsoft reached a worldwide level, with offices in Great Britain and Japan, owning 30% of computers in the world which worked on his soft. Paul Allen was diagnosed with Hodgkin disease. Even if cancer got into remission one year later because of an intensive treatment, Allen resigned in the same year.

1984 At the beginning of the year, a PC company called VisiCorp developed the system of the mouse which was driven by the computer and which used a GUI in order to display the screen’s text and images. This was very different of text and keyboard driven by MS-DOS system in which the entire text formatting was displayed on the screen like a code and not like what was printed. Bill Gates realized quickly the threat of this type of software and what it could represent for MS-DOS and Microsoft. Gates announced during an advertising campaign that Microsoft was going to develop a new operating system, which would use a GUI. This was about to be named “Windows” and would be compatible with all software PC products developed on MS-DOS system. The announcement was a bluff because Microsoft was not developing any system like that. But, like a marketing strategy, Gates was a genius because almost 305 of the market were the computers that used MS-DOS programe, these would wait for Windows software without turning to another system. The interest of people who were willing to do programmes for VisiCorp system lost the enthusiasm until the beginning of 1985.

1985 In November, Bill Gates launched Microsoft Windows after almost two years since the announcement had been done. Visually, Windows system was similar to Macintosh Apple Computer Corporation, introduced almost two years earlier. Apple had total access to Microsoft technology while he was working to do Microsoft products which were compatible to Apple computers. Gates advised Apple to get the licence of their software, but they ignored his advice, being more interested in selling the computers. One time more, Gates took advantage of the situation and created a type of software that was extremely similar to Macintosh. Apple threatened that would send to Court Microsoft, taking revenge and declaring that this would delay the transfer of Microsoft software which was compatible to Macintosh’s users. In the end, Microsoft prevailed in the Courts because it can be proved that, although there were similarities regarding the way the two software systems worked, each individual function was created differently.

1986 Bill Gates got Microsoft with an initial public offer of 21 dollar a share. He had 45% of the company and became an instant millionaire being 31 years old. In time, the company’s shares increased as value.

1987 He became a billionaire because the stock increased to a quotation of 90.75 dollar. From that moment Gates was up or close to this within Forbes “list of the richest 400 people in the world”.

Therefore, Bill Gates never felt completely sure about his company’s statute. He always wanted to have information about competition. A story tells that one of his assistants came at work earlier and was very amazed when he found somebody sleeping under an office. On the brink to call the police, he noticed that the person was Bill Gates.

Bill’s intelligence allowed him to see all the chains of sides of software developing industry and corporate strategy. Out of the company, Gates earned the reputation as a ruthless competitor. Many tech companies managed by IBM started to develop their own operating system called OS/2 to replace MS-DOS. Gates improved Windows software’s running and users expansion.

1989 Microsoft introduced Microsoft Office, which includes office applications, for productivity, like Microsoft Excel and Word into a system that was compatible to all Microsoft products. But the applications were not as easily compatible to OS/2. A new version of Microsoft Windows was sold in 100.000 copies during only two weeks, and OS/2 sales stopped in a short time. This fact offered Microsoft a virtual monopoly for PC operating systems. Soon, Federal Trade Commission began to check Microsoft regarding unfair marketing practice. Microsoft faced a series of investigations done by Department of Justice. Some statements concerned to the fact that Microsoft had made unfair offers to PC producers to install Windows operating system on their computers. Microsoft forced the producers to sell Microsoft Internet Explorer together with Windows operating system, in the same time with their computers. Gates continued to lead the company also during federal check.

1989 Being 28 years old, as the executive director of Microsoft, Melinda French drew Bill’s attention. Over time, their relationship developed and they discovered an intimate and intellectual connection.

1994 On the 1st of January, Melinda and Bill got married in Hawaii. But only few months later Bill’s problems started: his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and died in June, 1994 and Bill was destroyed. Then he founded with his wife William H. Gates Foundation which was dedicated to education, health and investments supporting for people with less money.

1995 Bill and Melinda took some days off in order to travel in many countries for getting a new perspective upon life and world.

1996 Their daughter, Jennifer, was born. One year later, Gates moved with his family in a house of 55.000 square feet which cost 54 million dollar, on the foreshore of Washington Lake. Even if the house is a business centre, it is said that it would be a comfortable house for the couple and the three children.

To his wife’s influence, Gates had an interest in completing his mother’s role as civic leader. He began to realize he had to give more of his fortune for charity. Being an extraordinary student, Bill studied philanthropic activity by Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, titans of American Industrial Revolution.

1999 His fortune exceeded 101 million dollar.

2000 The couple combined more foundations in order to create Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They started by contributing with 28 billion dollar to initiate foundation’s plans. Bill Gates retired from daily operations within Microsoft. He positioned as a chief software architect in order to focus on what he had always considered fascinating. He remained Council President. Over the next few years, his involvement in Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation occupied a big part of his time and also his interest.

Except of all distinctions of being one of the most successful businessman and the richest in world’s history, Bill Gates also got many awards for his philanthropic work. “Time” magazine called him one of the most influential men of the XX century. The magazine also called his wife, Melinda, and U2 rock singer as People of 2000 Year.

Gates had many honorary doctorates from university all over the world, being Commander Knight of the Order of British Empire, a distinction that was given to him by Queen Elisabeth II.

2006 Gates announced by himself the change from full-time work, in order to have much time for the foundation. Gates and his wife were awarded with the Order of Aztec Eagle by Mexican Government for their philanthropic activity all around the world regarding health and education fields.

2008 27th of June was his last complete day within Microsoft.

2013 During an interview given to “The Telegraph”, Bill Gates declared that he did not have what to do with money and decided to invest it in medical research. Gates said that “Money is not anymore useful for me. I buy food and clothes and with the rest I want to help people”. “We want to act helping poor people who do not have the possibility to get vaccinated against polio”, added the billionaire. ONU statistics showed that 7 million children died in 2011 because of polio, many of them being from poor countries. Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, was on the first position on the richest Americans top for the 21st year in a row, with a fortune of 72 billion dollar.[1]

 

Bibliography:

1 - Bill Gates, ro.biography.name

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