William Henry Gates III, better known as Bill Gates, is the co-founder and Technology Advisor of Microsoft, the largest software and programming company in the world with annual sales in excess of $85 billion. Gates, along with Paul Allen, launched Microsoft in 1975 and it became the world’s largest PC software company. During his time with the company, Gates has held the positions of chairman, CEO and chief software architect and was, until May 2014, the company’s largest individual shareholder. Gates’ personal fortune stood at a staggering $91.7 billion as of February 2018.

Microsoft

It was when gates was 13 that his interest in computers piqued. After his school received a Teletype Model 33 ASR terminal, Gates created a his first computer program, an implementation of tic-tac-toe that allowed users to play games against the computer. Gates devised an algorithm for pancake sorting during his second year of university as a solution to one of a series of unsolved problems. His solution held the record of being the fastest for more than 30 years and the solution was formalised in a published paper with Harvard computer scientist Christos Papadimitriou. In 1975, Gates and Allen approached Micro Instrumental and Telemetry Systems (MITS) and told them they were developing a BASIC interpreter for the Altair 8800 computer. The MITS president agreed to meet Gates and Allen and over the course of a few weeks, Gates and Allen developed an Altair emulator that ran on a minicomputer and then developed the BASIC interpreter.

Gates and Allen were hired by MITS and they called their partnership “Micro-Soft,” dropping the hyphen a year later and registering the trade name “Microsoft.” Then in July 1980, IBM approached Microsoft in regards to an operating system for their upcoming IBM PC. Gates adapted the 86-DOS system for the PC for a one-time fee of $50,000. Windows, in its first incarnation, launched on November 20, 1985 and has since gone on to become the biggest selling operating system in the world; it ships with almost every personal computer manufactured around the globe.

In June 2006, Gates announced he was to transition out of his full-time role at Microsoft to dedicate more time to philanthropy. Gates and Warren Buffett founded The Giving Pledge in 2009 where they and other billionaires pledged to give at least half of their wealth to philanthropy. With his wife, Gates created the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is the wealthiest charitable foundation in the world with reported assets valued at more than $34 billion. The foundation is open with its information that shows how money is being spent, unlike other similar foundations. According to readily available records, Bill and Melinda Gates are one of the most generous philanthropists in the United States of America having given more than $28 billion to charitable causes. The couple plan to donate at least 95 percent of their wealth to charity before they die.

Gates is living proof that with a lot of knowledge and hard work and a sprinkling of luck along the way, anyone can become a legendary figure within their chosen field. You never know, one day you may be living in a house worth $125 million, too.