As a child, he spent hours locked in his room reading encyclopedias. At the age of 13 he learned to program in a self-taught way. At 31 he became a billionaire. He has been the richest man in the world for 17 years. He revolutionized personal computing and software, has promoted important research to improve sanitation in developing countries, his foundation is about to eradicate polio and he is currently developing a clean and safe nuclear power generator. How did you do it?
The entrepreneur in this story is William Henry Gates III, better known as Bill Gates, who was born in Seattle on October 28, 1955.
From a very young age, he enjoyed the comforts of a wealthy family. His father was a renowned lawyer and his mother was on the board of directors of several companies.
Barely a boy, Bill became a lover of reading, a math prodigy, and a fan of games like poker, who learned to play from his grandmother.
He was so fascinated by books that he used to lock himself in his room for hours to read complete encyclopedias. This especially worried his mother, who was trying to integrate him into family and society, which caused some friction in their relationship, but it was definitely something that helped Bill develop his talent for business and interpersonal relationships.
At age 13, he was enrolled in Lakeside Private School. There he met two great friends: Paul Allen and Kent Evans. In this school they had one of the first school computers, a Teletype model 33 in which Bill and his friends learned to self-teach in Basic language. His first program was a version of the Tic Tac Toe game in which he competed against the computer.
As the years went by, Gates and his friends spent hours on school computers looking for bugs in the systems that operated them. With this, they gained some free time with the computers to develop their own programs.
Bill and his friends founded the Lakeside Programming Club to make some money from the programs they wrote. There her friendship with Kent Evans became very strong, since both were chosen by one of the computer science teachers to write a program that was responsible for managing the class schedules of the institution’s students. They worked together on the project over the holidays. With a few weeks to go until the show ended, Kent died in an accident climbing a mountain. It was a hard blow for Bill, who describes the event as one of the saddest days of his life.
As he had not yet finished the program, he asked Paul Allen, who was 2 years older than him, for help. They understood each other very well working together and forged a great friendship ever since.
When Bill turned 17, they decided to found their first venture. It was a company called “Traf O data,” which used the Intel 8008 processor to manage Seattle traffic data. By selling it they obtained $ 20 thousand dollars, an important figure for a couple of young people.
In 1973, upon completion of his studies, Gates obtained a score of 1590 out of 1600 on the state attitude test, which allowed him to enter Harvard University without problems. His parents had always wanted him to study law and become a lawyer like his father, but the young man decided to study mathematics and computer science.
At Harvard he met another great friend named Steve Ballmer, who would later be a key player in his company.
After 2 years in college, Gates decided to drop out after learning the news that MITS, the company that created Altair 8800 computers, one of the most advanced of the time, was looking for someone to program an operating system for the computer.
Bill and Paul saw the opportunity there to found a software company and create the operating system. Gates had to face his parents, who supported him in his decision to drop out of college seeing his passion for starting his own business.
Thus, in 1975, the two young people contacted the creator of the Altair 8800, who agreed to meet with the young people in a few weeks for a demonstration. And, although these did not have one of the company’s computers and did not have a single line of code programmed, they went to work day and night to create an operating system for the day of the demonstration.
The day of the meeting arrived and, since Bill was a minor, Paul traveled to Albuquerque to present his creation, which they called “Altair Basic”. The presentation was a success and the MITS Company closed a deal with young people to distribute Altair Basic with their computers. In November of that same year, Bill and Paul decided to found Microsoft, which they named after combining the words “Microcomputer” and “Software”.
With this contract, the company could be running for a few years, but little by little the capital was decreasing and the company was on the verge of disappearing. However, in 1980 IBM planned to launch a series of personal computers and was looking for a company that would provide them with an operating system so that they could compete in the market with Apple computers.
Thanks to the influences of Bill Gates’ mother, the young people were able to meet with IBM executives. There they offered the company an operating system called “86 DOS”, which worked on computers with Hardware similar to those of IBM. Said system was created by Tim Paterson in Seattle. Paul Allen had known him years ago; and Bill, in a show of his great negotiating ability, offered to sell a user license to IBM even without owning or owning the operating system. IBM executives agreed to give Microsoft a percentage of the sale of each computer licensed under the DOS operating system, believing that the profit was primarily from the sale of the Hardware. The business was completed and the rights to the software would continue to belong to Microsoft, which could create versions for other companies.
Upon completion of the negotiation, Microsoft contacted and hired Tim Paterson. They paid him the sum of $ 50 thousand dollars for the distribution rights of the DOS operating system. Tim joined the company and took it upon himself to adapt the operating system for IBM computers. They renamed the system “PC DOS” and it was released along with the computers in 1981. This fact allowed Microsoft to go from being a small company to a world-class software company. In addition, it made its founders millionaires thanks to the profits made by each computer sold that had PC DOS installed.
With a rapidly growing, company in hand, Bill decided to hire Steve Ballmer, his longtime friend from college, to help them run the business. In 1983 Paul Allen leaves the company after learning that he had cancer. Bill Gates then became the President of Microsoft and began to work tirelessly to continue his expansion in the market.
In this period, he promoted the development of office applications for MS-DOS that allowed the creation of spreadsheets and documents, which would later become the company’s flagship software package, known as “Microsoft Office”.
In 1984 Steve Jobs was working on what would be his next big computer: The Apple Macintosh. This new computer would implement a user-friendly graphical interface and a mouse to control it. Bill found out about Apple’s development of the machine and approached Jobs with the promise of working on a version of Office for the Mac.
Steve Jobs agreed to provide Microsoft with some prototypes of his new computer because Bill threatened to work for IBM if Apple was not interested. After months of study, Bill Gates and Microsoft used the basic concepts of the user interface and the mouse to create an evolution of the MS-DOS operating system that they decided to name “Windows”. This angered Steve Jobs, who sued Microsoft for stealing his idea. However, after a trial, Microsoft managed to demonstrate otherwise.
The Windows operating system was released in 1985 and quickly became a best seller. The 90% of the world’s computers had installed a Windows license.
Microsoft went public in 1986 and had a great reception. This fact ended up making Bill the youngest billionaire to date, at just 31 years old, a title that currently belongs to Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, who became a billionaire at 23 years old.
Bill’s competitive spirit and his desire for Microsoft to be the number 1 software company in the world led him to make several questionable decisions. In the 90’s it was known that Microsoft was in charge of destroying its competition by making them disappear or acquiring them. This caught the attention of the United States government, which launched an anti-monopoly investigation against Bill Gates and Microsoft. However, after several years and dozens of trials, they were acquitted of the charges.
In 1994 Bill married Melinda French, a top Microsoft executive. His wife would be a great support after her mother’s death a few days after their marriage. In it you would find support not only in your business, but also in your passion to make the world a better place.
In 1995 Bill Gates was recognized as the richest person in the world according to Forbes magazine, recognition that he had from then until 2017, when he was surpassed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. In this span of time, other billionaires who have dethroned Bill Gates as the richest man in the world are: Warren Buffett (in 2008), founder of Berkshire Hathaway; and Carlos Slim (between 2010 and 2013), owner of Telmex and América Móvil. Bill Gates’ current fortune is estimated to be more than $ 100 billion.
In 2000, together with his wife, he decided to invest $ 5 billion of his fortune to create the “Bill and Melinda Gates” foundation, which has been recognized for its support to the most vulnerable communities in various developing countries.
In June 2006, Bill Gates decides to leave his position as President of Microsoft and gives the job to his friend Steve Ballmer. From that moment on, he began to dedicate himself completely too philanthropic work, investing a large part of his fortune in education and research to cure diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Far from Microsoft, Bill’s efforts are focused on three main problems: first, eradicating the polio virus in developing countries on the African continent, a task that he is very close to achieving thanks to the support and investment of his great friend. Warren Buffett ; second, to end the deaths of children caused by diarrhea in developing countries, investing in research and development of innovative, sustainable and accessible aqueduct systems that solve the health problems of vulnerable communities; and thirdly, to work in search of clean energy, investing in the development of a high-tech nuclear power generator that reduces the possibility of human failure and that works with nuclear waste.
Bill Gates is currently 64 years old and is considered one of the most important entrepreneurs of all time. His revolutionary ideas and tremendous determination literally enabled him to change the world on several occasions, making him one of the most influential business leaders of modern times and positioning him as a benchmark for new generations of entrepreneurs.
Thus we conclude the inspiring story of Bill Gates, a talented and visionary man who discovered his passion for technology from a very young age. His business skills led him to become one of the richest and most successful entrepreneurs in the world. And in the twilight of his life he understood the true meaning of it: to share his success and his fortune with those who need it most.
In the words of Bill Gates himself:
“The secret to business success is finding where the world is going and getting there first.”
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