Bill Gates is undoubtedly one of the most iconic businessmen in modern times.
His net worth alone should tell you that he’s done some pretty amazing things with his life. But who is this Bill Gates guy, and how did he get so rich? This is what many people wonder unless they have half of the answer. Yes, half.
Windows rings a bell. However, it isn’t the entire picture that involves this magnate.
Instead, you’ll have to know more than just the central business people know about to understand how he became one of the wealthiest people in the world.
Do you want to know more? Let’s get on this ride.
Who is Bill Gates? – Early & Teenage Years
Or more like William Henry Gates III, born on October 28, 1955, in Seattle, Washington. Son of William H. Gates Sr. and Mary Maxwell Gates.
Bill Gates was raised in an upper-middle-class family with two sisters, Kristianne (who is older) and Libby (who is younger).
William H. Gates Sr. (Bill’s father) was a promising law student who became a wife to Mary Maxwell. She was an athlete and student at the University of Washington who was outgoing and actively involved in student affairs.
The Gates family was close and warm. All three children were encouraged and supported to compete and achieve excellence.
Early signs of Bill’s ability to communicate he was competitive when coordinating their family’s athletic games at their Puget summer house.
He enjoyed playing board games, his favorite being Risk.
Something to note is that Bill was close to his mother Mary, who died in 2005 and devoted her time to raising children, working with charities and civic affairs.
Additionally, she was a member of several corporate boards, including First Interstate Bank in Seattle, founded by her grandfather, the United Way, and International Business Machines (IBM).
Bill would often accompany her on volunteer work in schools or community organizations.
As a child, Bill was an avid reader and spent hours poring over reference books like the encyclopedia.
His behavior began to cause concern at the age of eleven or twelve. Although he was doing well at school, he sometimes seemed bored or withdrawn.
His parents were concerned that he would become an outcast. They believed in public education, which is why they enrolled him at Seattle’s Lakeside School when he was 13.
He excelled in almost all of his subjects and was a natural in science and math. Also, very good at English and drama.
A Seattle computer company offered computer time for students while he was at Lakeside School.
Bill Gates was fascinated by the possibilities of computers and spent a lot of his time working on them. He created a BASIC program that allowed users to play against each other in tic-tac–toe.
Gates and others sought out time to use minicomputers, including the DEC PDP. Computer Center Corporation (CCC), which owned a PDP-10, banned Gates, Paul Allen, and Ric Weiland, and Kent Evans, Gates’s friend and first business partner, from using the operating system for free.
After this sanction and make money, the four students founded Lakeside Programmers Club.
Bill Gates, then 15, started his own business in 1970 with Paul Allen, his friend. They created “Traf-o-Data,” which was a computer program that tracked traffic patterns in Seattle.
It netted them $20.000.
Gates and Allen wanted their own company, but Gates was unable to. His parents wanted him to graduate from high school and go to college to study to be a lawyer.
When he graduated from Lakeside School, he was a National Merit Scholar. In the fall of 1973, he was accepted at Harvard College after achieving 1590 points out of 1600 on Scholastic Aptitude Tests.
He was a pre-law major, but he also took graduate-level mathematics and computer science courses. He met fellow Harvard student Steve Ballmer.
However, Gates left Harvard two years later in order to pursue his dream: owning a business.
Paul Allen remained in touch with Gates, and he invited him to join him at Honeywell in summer 1974.
At that time, the MITS Altair 8800, a computer program based on the Intel 8080 CPU, was released in 1975. Allen and Gates saw an opportunity to create their own company from there.
After seeing his desire to start his own business, Gates’ parents supported him. He said that he was on leave from Harvard because he knew that he could always return to school if things didn’t go his way.
The Start of a New Era: Microsoft
As much as we don’t want to mention it, Bill’s most significant “hit” was his innovative company ‘Microsoft’ and it all started in 1975 along with his friend, Allen.
The company is known for being a leading developer of PC operating systems, computer programming languages like C and Java to this date.
But before getting to those software and programs, BASIC was the first product offered by the company and ran on the Altair computer.
Although it was a good start for the company, it wasn’t too profitable since only 10% of the people using it actually paid for it.
Another problem was also due to the famous computer hobbyists, who obtained some of the pre-market copies, reproduced the software, and distributed it for free.
This led Gates to make a decision: send a letter to the company to stop this since it was similar to stealing and taking advantage of the hard work of the two men.
Gates and Ed Roberts (MITS president) had an uneasy relationship, which often led to shouting matches. Roberts and Gates were at odds over software development and business direction. Roberts considered Gates rude and spoilt.
Gates was always on the road to promote the virtues of Microsoft software programs as the computer industry grew. His mother was often with him.
Mary was highly respected for her participation in several corporate boards, including IBM’s, and was the person who introduced Gates and IBM’s CEO to each other.
IBM was searching for software to run their new personal computer (PC) in November 1980. They approached Microsoft.
Gates was young-looking, but IBM liked him quickly, and he convinced them that he could fulfill their requirements.
Although Microsoft had not yet developed an operating system to support IBM’s new computers, he was confident about making it possible.
Gates did not stop when he got the opportunity to buy an operating system, which was designed to run on similar computers to the IBM PC.
He struck a deal with the software developer, making Microsoft the exclusive license agent and then the complete owner of the program. But he didn’t tell the IBM team about the deal.
Microsoft and Gates were sued later by the company. Microsoft settled out of court, but Gates and Microsoft did not admit to any wrongdoing.
Gates was required to convert the purchased software to work with the IBM PC. He paid $50,000 for it, the same price as he had paid to buy the original version.
IBM wanted the source code to be purchased, which would have allowed them to access the operating system.
Gates rejected the offer and proposed that IBM pay an IBM licensing fee for any copies of software sold along with their computers. Microsoft was able to license their software, MS-DOS, to any other PC maker if other computer companies wanted to copy the IBM PC.
Softcard was another Microsoft software that allowed Microsoft BASIC operation on Apple II machines.
Microsoft’s rapid growth between 1979-1981 was due to the success of IBM’s software development. The staff grew from 25 to 128, and revenue soared from $2.5 million to $16 million.
Gates and Allen incorporated Microsoft in 1981, and Bill was named president and chairman while Allen was elected as the vice-president.
Then, in 1983, Microsoft opened its first global offices in Japan and Great Britain.
Microsoft & Apple: Most Legendary Rivalry
Despite them being competitors, Microsoft and Apple shared many early innovations.
Apple invited Microsoft in 1981 to develop software for Macintosh computers. Some developers have been involved both in Microsoft development and the development of Microsoft apps for Macintosh.
Some shared names were a result of the collaboration between Microsoft and Macintosh.
Microsoft’s Windows was born out of this knowledge sharing. It used a mouse for a graphic interface that displayed text and images on a screen.
This was quite different from the MSDOS system that used a keyboard and text to drive text. All text formatting displayed on the screen was code, not what would actually be printed.
Gates was quick to recognize the potential threat this software would pose to MS-DOS and Microsoft in general.
Not long after, Bill revealed in an advertisement that a new Microsoft Operating System was being developed using a graphic interface.
It would be called Windows and compatible with all MS Windows-DOS products. Microsoft didn’t have a similar program under development, so the announcement was a joke.
This marketing tactic was brilliant. Nearly 30% of the computer market used the MS-DOS system. They preferred to wait for Windows software rather than switching to a different system.
Two years after Gates announced Windows, they launched it in November 1985. Visually, Windows looked almost identical to the Macintosh computer system Apple Computer Corporation had released nearly two years before.
Apple had previously granted Microsoft full access while working to make Microsoft products compatible with Apple computers. Gates had recommended that Apple license their software.
However, Apple chose to ignore the advice and focus on selling computers.
Gates once again used the opportunity to create a software program that was strikingly like the Macintosh. Apple threatened to sue.
Microsoft countered by saying it would delay the shipment of Microsoft-compatible software to Macintosh users.
Microsoft won in court. It was possible to show that although there were some similarities between the software systems, each function performed differently.
The End of An Era: Microsoft’s Exit
In 2000, Gates decided to step down from Microsoft’s day-to-day operations. He handed over the role of CEO to his college friend Steve Ballmer.
Ballmer was with Microsoft since 1980, and while he assumed the role, Gates was left as a chief software architect in order to concentrate on his more passionate business side. However, he remains chairman of the board.
Gates declared in 2006 that he was leaving Microsoft’s full-time job to devote more of his time to the foundation.
Gates was elected to step down as Microsoft chairman in February 2014 to become a technology adviser. Satya Nadella (46 years old) replaced Steve Ballmer, the long-time Microsoft CEO.
Microsoft’s story goes a long way with Bill, his friend, and all the challenges they had to face but also with the deals they hit.
IBM partnership, Windows, Management Style, the antitrust litigation, and more.
It took us quite a while to go over Bill’s history, as you can see. However, we find it crucial so you could understand the extension of the man and how he has been able to make his fortune.
How Much Is Bill Gates Worth?
After all this journey, what do you think is his net worth? Do you think he is a millionaire or a billionaire?
Well, he is clearly both considering all the success he has gone through thanks to Microsoft and the software, products, and items it has produced over the years.
However, how much does he earn from Microsoft? What about other ventures?
We didn’t go over Gates’ businesses and projects in other areas or his foundations. We didn’t mention his long-time relationship with Melinda Gates and how they are now divorced.
It isn’t crucial to mention them, but we want to leave this here if you don’t understand our outline.
That being said, Bill Gates net worth is at $129.2 billion according to Forbes, and from here, we can just go each part of the money:
- Most of his money comes from Microsoft alone, hitting the $115 billion mark.
- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is worth $40.75 billion, and his second-most valuable asset is Cascade Investments, the investment firm he founded in 1988. However, we cannot consider it as revenue since it isn’t meant for this purpose.
- He has stakes in Canadian National Railway Company (CNR), Ecolab Inc., General Electric Co.’s GE Aviation Services LLC subsidiary, and several other companies that aren’t reported or named.
It isn’t simple to go over Gates’ fortune except for Microsoft since not many reports have been made about his assets and income from the previous stakes and businesses.
However, it is simple to assume that the other $14+ billion we are missing from his net worth are earned from them, personal projects, investments in real estate, and additional shares that are probably included in Microsoft itself.
But has this magnate been a billionaire since when? 1986. That’s right, decades ago. This was all thanks to Microsoft and the innovations in the company.
Starting A Business Is Never Easy
If there’s something we can learn from this man is that you expect to succeed, but you need a plan B if you don’t.
No one goes and decides to start a business without thinking that it will be successful, and the person who does this will definitely fail in the process.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you will have blind faith in your project, which is why we recommend having a backup in case things don’t go your way.
Of course, some people bet everything they have and this, believe it or not, isn’t that bad if you’re confident enough.
Bill Gates is a visionary, and more than anything else, he knew how to claim the worth of his work, company, and passion.
Over his life, many people complain about how he didn’t allow pirating, and many problems came with companies that tried to gain something from Microsoft.
However, he stood firm and made sure he was being respected and his investors, family, and friends. A lifetime project cannot go down because of someone else’s scheme at the end of the day.
With this clear, what do you have in mind? Did you get inspired to start your own business?
Digital or online businesses are everything nowadays and what we can tell you is: you better start soon.
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