Whilst he has since left his place at the helm of one of the most influential and impactful technology innovators of all time at Microsoft, Bill Gates has gone on to explore philanthropy via the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.
Today, he continues to leave a lasting legacy in his unwavering persistence to leave this world behind in a better state than the one he was born into in 1955.
In just 25 years since he first founded the company, Bill Gates has worked on building his two man operation with Paul Allen into a multi-billion dollar empire that has established Gates as one of the most influential men ever to impact our world.
Much of his success can be attributed not necessarily in creating completely new technology, but by innovating and leveraging existing technologies to adapt to the fast-paced nature of the technology sector.
As is often the case with brilliant minds, persistence is key, and Gates has been single-minded in his obsession over coding and technology since a young age. In his early days, his high school bought a very small computer terminal that was connected to the University of Washington’s mainframe.
At the time, unimaginable to us now, access to a computer was incredibly expensive and as a result, Gates and his friends spent up all the time their high school had bought for them.
Not to be deterred, Gates called the university to find out how he could get onto a terminal, even though he wasn’t a student. They eventually relented and gave him time from 3-6AM in the morning.
Far from an average teenage boy, he snuck out of his house every night to make the trek to the university, spent hours teaching himself to code, and then snuck back home before school, unbeknownst to his parents.
His love and obvious brilliance for technology and programming led Gates to attend Harvard in the fall of 1973. However, like many gifted students, he was quickly disinterested by the curriculum and his attendance dwindled.
In December of 1974, his classmate Peter Allen showed Gates a magazine article detailing the world’s first microcomputer. Seeing an opportunity, Gates and Allen cold called the manufacturer, MITS, in Albuquerque, and told the president they had written a version of the computer language BASIC for the Altair.
When he said he’d like to see it, Gates and Allen, who actually hadn’t written anything, created something out of thin air, working on alternative machines as the Altair was not available to them.
When Allen finally flew to meet the president to test the program, they had no idea whether or not it would actually work. But it did.
Gates dropped out of Harvard and moved with Allen to Albuquerque, to officially establish Microsoft where they began not only writing software for MITS, but for other startups including Commodore, Tandy Corp and Apple- another great foresight.
1979 is when the pair hit it big time, moving to Seattle and striking a lucrative deal with IBM.
Masterminded by Gates, the deal cunningly allowed Microsoft to retain the right to license operating system MS-DOS to other computer makers whilst originally commissioned by IBM.
Gates leveraged IBM’s success from their MS-DOS powered PCs and the inevitable copies that followed to license the operating system to a host of competitors- taking the company’s sales from $7 million to $16 million in 1981.
Microsoft continued to expand into new product offerings until Apple disrupted the space with their first Macintosh computer.
The interface was undeniably more user-friendly and posed a great threat to the Microsoft market share.
In retaliation, Gates announced their own GUI-based operation system, which is where Windows was born. From there Microsoft went public in 1986 and the IPO transformed Gates into one of the richest men in the world overnight.
Despite suits from Steve Jobs himself, critics including the U.S Justice Department and minor setbacks, Microsoft had solidified its industry dominance in the mid-1990s by combining Windows with its other applications into consumable packages and establishing key partnerships with computer manufacturers to use the software on all of their products.
This is the strategy they still employ to this day which attributes to the $430 billion dollar valuation that the company sits at in 2016.
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