Bill Gates: A Profile

Published On: 14 Mar 2011

 | Last Updated On: 22 Mar 2011

Born on October 28, 1955 in Washington in USA, Bill Gates is an American business magnate, philanthropist, author and is chairman of Microsoft the software company he founded with Paul Allen. He is consistently ranked among the world's wealthiest people with a net personal wealth of $56 Billion. Bill Gates stepped down as chief executive officer of Microsoft in January 2000. He remains at Microsoft as non-executive chairman.



When he was in the eighth grade, Gates wrote his first computer program on this machine: an implementation of tic-tac-toe that allowed users to play games against the computer. Later, he and other students sought time on systems including DEC PDP minicomputers. One of these systems was a PDP-10 belonging to Computer Center Corporation (CCC), which banned four Lakeside students—Gates, Paul Allen, Ric Weiland, and Kent Evans—for the summer after it caught them exploiting bugs in the operating system to obtain free computer time. At the end of the ban, the four students offered to find bugs in CCC's software in exchange for computer time. Rather than use the system via teletype, Gates went to CCC's offices and studied source code for various programs that ran on the system, including programs in FORTRAN, LISP, and machine language.
In 1971, Information Sciences, Inc. hired the four Lakeside students to write a payroll program in COBOL, providing them computer time and royalties. After his administrators became aware of his programming abilities, Gates wrote the school's computer program to schedule students in classes. Gates graduated from Lakeside School in 1973. He scored 1590 out of 1600 on the SAT and enrolled at Harvard College in the autumn of 1973. While at Harvard, he met Steve Ballmer, who later succeeded Gates as CEO of Microsoft. Gates did not have a definite study plan while a student at Harvard[23] and spent a lot of time using the school's computers. He remained in contact with Paul Allen, joining him at Honeywell during the summer of 1974. The following year saw the release of the MITS Altair 8800 based on the Intel 8080 CPU, and Gates and Allen saw this as the opportunity to start their own computer software company.
After reading the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics that demonstrated the Altair 8800, Gates contacted Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), the creators of the new microcomputer, to inform them that he and others were working on a BASIC interpreter for the platform. In reality, Gates and Allen did not have an Altair and had not written code for it; they merely wanted to gauge MITS's interest. MITS president Ed Roberts agreed to meet them for a demo, and over the course of a few weeks they developed an Altair emulator that ran on a minicomputer, and then the BASIC interpreter. The demonstration, held at MITS's offices in Albuquerque, was a success and resulted in a deal with MITS to distribute the interpreter as Altair BASIC. Paul Allen was hired into MITS, and Gates took a leave of absence from Harvard to work with Allen at MITS in Albuquerque in November 1975. They named their partnership "Micro-Soft" and had their first office located in Albuquerque. Within a year, the hyphen was dropped, and on November 26, 1976, the trade name "Microsoft" was registered with the Office of the Secretary of the State of New Mexico. Gates never returned to Harvard to complete his studies.
During Microsoft's early years, all employees had broad responsibility for the company's business. Gates oversaw the business details, but continued to write code as well. In the first five years, he personally reviewed every line of code the company shipped, and often rewrote parts of it as he saw fit. In 1980, IBM approached Microsoft to write the BASIC interpreter for its upcoming personal computer, the IBM PC. IBM representative Jack Sams met Gates and told him to get an acceptable operating system. Microsoft delivered it to IBM as PC-DOS in exchange for a one-time fee of $50,000. Gates did not offer to transfer the copyright on the operating system, because he believed that other hardware vendors would clone IBM's system. They did, and the sales of MS-DOS made Microsoft a major player in the industry.
Microsoft launched its first retail version of Microsoft Windows on November 20, 1985. As an executive, Gates met regularly with Microsoft's senior managers and program managers. Firsthand accounts of these meetings describe him as verbally combative, berating managers for perceived holes in their business strategies or proposals that placed the company's long-term interests at risk. Gates's role at Microsoft for most of its history was primarily a management and executive role. In 2000, Gates and his wife combined three family foundations into one to create the charitable Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is the largest transparently operated charitable foundation in the world. On June 15, 2006, Gates announced that he would transition out of his day-to-day role over the next two years to dedicate more time to philanthropy. 
Time magazine named Gates one of the 100 people who most influenced the 20th century, as well as one of the 100 most influential people of 2004, 2005, and 2006. Time also collectively named Gates, his wife Melinda and U2's lead singer Bono as the 2005 Persons of the Year for their humanitarian efforts. In 2006, he was voted eighth in the list of "Heroes of our time". Gates was listed in the Sunday Times power list in 1999, named CEO of the year by Chief Executive Officers magazine in 1994, ranked number one in the "Top 50 Cyber Elite" by Time in 1998, ranked number two in the Upside Elite 100 in 1999 and was included in The Guardian as one of the "Top 100 influential people in media" in 2001.
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