Bill Gates, Microsoft, His Ideas of Success

If you have worked on a computer at home, you would have worked on the Windows operating system developed by Microsoft Corporation. Bill Gates founded the world’s largest software business, Microsoft, with Paul Allen, and subsequently became one of the richest men in the world. His net worth in 2018 was $90 billion second only to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

I think it’s fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tool we’ve ever created. They’re tools of communication, they’re tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user.

Bill Gates Journey

Born on Oct. 28, 1955, Gates grew up in Seattle with his two sisters. Their father, William H. Gates II, is a Seattle attorney. Their late mother, Mary Gates, was a schoolteacher. Gates attended public elementary school and the private Lakeside School. There, he discovered his interest in software and began programming computers at age 13.

In 1970, at the age of 15, Bill Gates and Paul Allen went into business together, developing “Traf-o-Data,” a computer program that monitored traffic patterns in Seattle. They netted $20,000 for their efforts. Gates and Allen wanted to start their own company, but Gates’ parents wanted him to finish school and go on to college, where they hoped he would work to become a lawyer.

Gates was a National Merit Scholar when he graduated from Lakeside School in 1973. He scored 1590 out of 1600 on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) and enrolled at Harvard College in the autumn of 1973. He chose a pre-law major but took mathematics and graduate level computer science courses. But his freshman year saw him spend more of his time in the computer lab than in class. While at Harvard, Gates developed a version of the programming language BASIC for the first microcomputer – the MITS Altair.

While at Harvard, he met fellow student Steve Ballmer. Gates left Harvard after two years while Ballmer would stay and graduate magna cum laude. Years later, Ballmer succeeded Gates as Microsoft’s CEO. He maintained that position from 2000 until his resignation from the company in 2014

In his junior year, Gates left Harvard to devote his energies to Microsoft, a company he had begun in 1975 with his childhood friend Paul Allen. Guided by a belief that the computer would be a valuable tool on every office desktop and in every home, they began developing software for personal computers. Gates’ foresight and his vision for personal computing have been central to the success of Microsoft and the software industry.

Paul Allen remained with Microsoft until 1983, when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. Though his cancer went into remission a year later with intensive treatment, Allen resigned from the company.

Growth of Microsoft

Microsoft wrote the BASIC software program for the Altair computer made by Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) which netted the company a fee and royalties.

In November 1980, IBM was looking for software that would operate their upcoming personal computer (PC) and approached Microsoft. Legend has it that at the first meeting with Bill Gates someone at IBM mistook him for an office assistant and asked him to serve coffee. Though Gates did not have the operating system he convinced IBM he could meet their needs. Gates proposed using 86-DOS (QDOS), an operating system similar to CP/M that Tim Paterson of Seattle Computer Products (SCP) had made for hardware similar to the PC. Microsoft made a deal with SCP to become the exclusive licensing agent, and later the full owner, of 86-DOS. After adapting the operating system for the PC, Microsoft delivered it to IBM as PC DOS in exchange for a one-time fee of $50,000.

IBM wanted to buy the source code, which would have given them the information to the operating system. Gates refused, instead proposing that IBM pay a licensing fee for copies of the software sold with their computers. Doing this allowed Microsoft to license the software they called MS-DOS to any other PC manufacturer, should other computer companies clone the IBM PC, which they soon did.

Microsoft also released software called Softcard, which allowed Microsoft BASIC to operate on Apple II machines. Bill Gates worked with Steve Jobs to develop a graphical software-based operating system for Mac Computers. Bill Gates then launched its first retail version of Microsoft Windows on November 20, 1985

In March 1986, Bill Gates took Microsoft public with an initial public offering (IPO) of $21 per share, making him an instant millionaire at age 31. Gates held 45 per cent of the company’s 24.7 million shares, making his stake at that time $234 million of Microsoft’s $520 million.

Bill Gates Family

Bill Gates married on Jan. 1, 1994, to Melinda French who also worked for Microsoft. They have three children. In 1996, their first daughter, Jennifer, was born. Their son, Rory, was born in 1999, and a second daughter, Phoebe, arrived in 2002.

Bill Gates Family
Bill Gates Family

Bill Gates Interests and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Gates is an avid reader and enjoys playing golf and bridge. Philanthropy is also important to Gates. He and his wife, Melinda, have started a foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with assets more than $30 billion. The organization is dedicated to fight hunger in developing countries, improve education in America’s high schools and developing vaccines against malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS.

Bill Gates Books

Bill Gates has written two books:

In 1995: The Road Ahead summarized the implications of the personal computing revolution and described a future profoundly changed by the arrival of a global interactive network.

In 1999, Gates wrote Business @ the Speed of Thought, a book that shows how computer technology can solve business problems in fundamentally new ways.

Video of Bill Gates Biography

11-minute video on Bill Gates

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs Rivarly

In 1981, Apple led by Steve Jobs invited Microsoft to help develop software for Macintosh computers. Microsoft made software for the mega-popular Apple II PC, and Gates would routinely fly down to Cupertino to see what Apple was working on, a VisiCorp software for in Macintosh system that used a mouse to drive a graphic interface, displaying text and images on the screen. This differed greatly from the text-and-keyboard driven MS-DOS system where all text formatting showed on the screen as code and not what actually would be printed. Some developers were involved in both Microsoft development and the development of Microsoft applications for Macintosh. Bill Gates quickly recognized the threat this kind of software might pose for MS-DOS and Microsoft overall.

In 1983 Gates announced in an advertising campaign that a new Microsoft operating system was about to be developed that would use a graphic interface. It was to be called “Windows,” and would be compatible with all PC software products developed on the MS-DOS system. The announcement was a bluff, in that Microsoft had no such program under development. But as a marketing tactic, it was sheer genius, as nearly 30 per cent of the computer market was using the MS-DOS system and would wait for Windows software rather than change to a new system. Without people willing to change formats, software developers were unwilling to write programs for the VisiCorp system and it lost momentum by early 1985.

The relationship fell apart when Microsoft announced the first version of Windows in 1985. A furious Jobs accused Gates and Microsoft of ripping off the Macintosh. But Gates didn’t care, he knew that graphical interfaces would be big, and didn’t think Apple had the exclusive rights to the idea.

Gates knew that Apple took the idea for the graphical interface from the Xerox PARC labs, a research institution they both admired. When Jobs accused Gates of stealing the idea, he famously answered: “Well, Steve, I think there’s more than one way of looking at it. I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbour named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it.”

Apple threatened to sue, and Microsoft retaliated, saying it would delay shipment of its Microsoft-compatible software for Macintosh users. In the end, Microsoft prevailed in the courts because it could prove that while there were similarities in how the two software systems operated, each individual function was distinctly different.

1996, when Steve Jobs appeared in a PBS Documentary called “Triumph of the Nerds,”  said that they make third-rate products. “The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste. And I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way, in the sense that they don’t think of original ideas, and they don’t bring much culture into their products.”

By the late nineties, Apple was in serious danger of going under. When then-Apple CEO Gil Amelio moved to buy NeXT in 1996 and bring Jobs back to Apple, Gates tried to talk him out of it. Gates said this to Amelio: “I know his technology, it’s nothing but a warmed-over UNIX, and you’ll never be able to make it work on your machines. Don’t you understand that Steve doesn’t know anything about technology? He’s just a super salesman. I can’t believe you’re making such a stupid decision … He doesn’t know anything about engineering, and 99% of what he says and thinks is wrong. What the hell are you buying that garbage for?”

By 1997, Jobs was Apple CEO. At his first Macworld keynote, he announced that he had accepted an investment from Microsoft to keep Apple afloat. Bill Gates appeared on a huge screen via satellite uplink. The audience booed.

When Gates decided to quit Microsoft in 2006 to focus more on his foundation. “Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology,” Jobs said

Appearing on stage together at a 2007 conference, Gates said “I’d give a lot to have Steve’s taste.”

Quotes by Bill Gates

 I really had a lot of dreams when I was a kid, and I think a great deal of that grew out of the fact that I had a chance to read a lot.

If you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.

If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.

Television is not real life. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

People always fear change. People feared electricity when it was invented, didn’t they? People feared coal, they feared gas-powered engines… There will always be ignorance, and ignorance leads to fear. But with time, people will come to accept their silicon masters.

I have 100 billion dollars… You realize I could spend 3 million dollars a day, every day, for the next 100 years? And that’s if I don’t make another dime. Tell you what I’ll buy your right arm for a million dollars. I give you a million bucks, and I get to sever your arm right here.

Video on Bill Gates 7 Rules of Success

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