William Henry Gates III
William Henry Gates III was born in Seattle, Washington to William H. Gates, Jr. and Mary Maxwell Gates. His family was wealthy; his father was a lawyer and his mother served on the board of directors for First Interstate Bank and the United Way. His grandfather was also a National Bank president. Gates has one older sister, Kristi, and one younger sister, Libby. He was the fourth person with his name in his family, but was known as William Gates III or “Trey” because his father got rid of his “III” suffix. Several writers claim that his father set up a million-dollar trust fund for him. A 1993 biographer who interviewed both Gates and his parents found no evidence of this and revealed it was just fiction. In a book he wrote and in an interview Gates had in 1994, he denied the trust fund story.
Gates excelled in elementary school, particularly in mathematics and the sciences. At thirteen he enrolled in the Lakeside School, Seattle’s most exclusive preparatory school. When he was in the eighth grade, the school mothers used proceeds from a rummage sale to buy Lakeside an ASR-33 teletype terminal and a block of computer time on a General Electric computer. Gates took an interest in programming the GE system in BASIC and got out of math classes to continue his interest. After the Mother’s Club donation ran up, he and other students sought time on other systems, including DEC PDP minicomputers. One of these systems was a PDP-10 belonging to Computer Center Corporation, which banned the Lakeside students for the summer after it caught the kids exploiting bugs in the operating system to obtain free computer time.
At the end of the ban the Lakeside students, including Gates, were offered to find bugs in CCC’s software in exchange for free computer time. Gates went to CCC’s offices and studied source code for various programs that ran on the system. The arrangement with CCC continued until 1970, when it went out of business. The following year Information Sciences Inc. hired the Lakeside students to write a payroll program, providing them with computer time and royalties. At age 14, Gates also formed a venture with his classmate Allen, called Traf-O-Data, to make traffic counters based on the Intel 8008 processor. That first year he made $20,000, but when his age was found out they lost a lot of business.
As a youth, Bill Gates was in Boy Scouts. He achieved its second highest rank, Life Scout.
At a press meeting Bill Gates stated that he scored a 1590 on his SAT’s. He enrolled at Harvard University in the fall of 1973 wanting to get a pre-law degree, but did not have a definite study plan. While at Harvard he met his future business partner, Steve Ballmer.
In January 1975, Gates read an issue of Popular Electronics that showed the Altair 8800, Gates contacted MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems), 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 measure MITS’s interest.
MITS president, Ed Roberts agreed to meet them for a demo, and over the next 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 ended in a deal with MITS to distribute the interpreter as Altair BASIC. Paul Allen hired into MITS, and Gates took a leave of absence from Harvard to work with Allen at MITS, initializing their partnership in November 1975 “Micro-soft”. Within a year, the hyphen was dropped, and on November 26, 1976, the name “Microsoft” was registered with the USPTO.
Microsoft’s BASIC was popular with computer hobbyists, but a pre-market copy had leaked into the community and was being widely distributed. In February 1976, Gates wrote a letter to Hobbyists in the MITS newsletter stating that MITS could not continue to produce and maintain software without payment. This letter was disliked among many computer hobbyists, but Gates persisted in his belief. Microsoft broke away from MITS in late 1976, and continued to develop programming language software for many systems.
Gates explained that all the people at Microsoft did more than one job during the earlier years. Whoever answered the phone when an order came in was put in charge of packing and shipping it. Gates supervised the business details, but also 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 necessary.
In the early 1980s Microsoft produced its own version of the graphical user interface (GUI), based on ideas invented by the Xerox corporation, and developed further by Apple. Microsoft released “Windows” as another option to their DOS command line and to compete with other GUIs. By the early 1990s, Windows had pushed other DOS-based GUIs like GEM and GEOS off the market. The release of Windows 3.0 in 1990 was a success, selling around 10 million copies in the first two years and securing Microsoft’s dominance in operating system sales.
By ensuring that most PC’s would come with Windows pre-installed, the Microsoft corporation eventually became the largest software company in the world, earning Gates enough money that Forbes Magazine named him the wealthiest person in the world for several years. Gates was the CEO of the company until the year 2000, when Steve Ballmer took the position. Microsoft has thousands of patents, and Gates has nine patents to his name.
This is the reason Microsoft has grown to the almost monopolizing powerhouse of today. Gates used his skill and his extreme intelligence to code and program these systems and that slingshot him straight to the top. Gates never did intend on becoming rich, nor does he hog the money. He donates billions on billions of dollars every year to charities that truly need it. His house is one of the most secure properties in the world and he likes it that way. He is a very private individual, giving interviews sparingly, and not allowing any information about his personal life to the public.
Gates is a prime example of a business man and has really helped in developing today’s economy in America. Still ranked as the richest man in the world today, he dominates his industry and is an inspiration to all upcoming entrepreneurs.