The Life Story of Bill Gates

a portrait of Bill Gates with an image of the microsoft building in the background.

Malcolm Gladwell featured Bill Gates as an outsider in his book Outliers: The Story of Success. Gates was exposed to computers at an early age when most of the world didn’t know what they were.

This opportunity, coupled with a keen interest in computers, enabled Gates to learn programming and other computer elements. He eventually spent countless hours per week in the computer lab.

The Life Story of Bill Gates

Bill Gates established the world’s largest software corporation, Microsoft. The growth and success of Microsoft eventually led him to become one of the wealthiest men in the world.

Besides his role in shaping the PC industry, Gates has also touched many lives through his foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other charitable works.

Let’s look at the life of this technologist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.

Childhood and Early Life

Bill Gates came to the world as William Henry Gates III in Seattle, Washington, on October 28, 1955. He was the middle child in a family of three children, which included Kristianne (his older sister) and Libby (his younger sister).

Gates’ father, William Henry Gates II, worked as an attorney and civic leader in Seattle.

His mother, Mary Maxwell, worked briefly as a teacher but later served on various corporate boards, including the First Interstate Bank in Seattle and International Business Machines (IBM).

Education

Gates grew up in upper-middle-class surroundings. His parents had the funds to send him and his sisters to good schools in Seattle. When Gates turned 13, his parents transferred him to the private Lakeside Preparatory School.


A black report cover.


Gates loved to read, going so far as to read reference books like the encyclopedia. He also excelled in almost all subjects, especially math and science.

Gates’s first exposure to computers occurred at the Lakeside School, although at this time, he dreamt of following in the footsteps of his father.

His interest in computers peaked when the Mother’s Club at Lakeside Prep School used proceeds from a school property sale to buy computing equipment. A Seattle Company called C-Cube also started providing computer classes to Lakeside Prep students.

Gates spent much of his free time working with computers at the school and C-Cube. He learned programming and the elements and functions of a computer.

Gates became so skilled at programming that he once wrote a tic-tac-toe program using the BASIC programming language.

Gates graduated from Lakeside in 1973 and enrolled in Harvard to pursue a law degree. However, he spent more time in the computer lab than in class.

While at Harvard, Gates kept in touch with Paul Allen. The two had met when Gates was in Lakeside Preparatory School. Gates and Allen shared an enthusiasm for computers and thus spent multiple hours together at the computer lab.

Gates and Allen even started a business together in 1970. They developed a computer program for monitoring traffic patterns in Seattle. They named their software Traf-o-Data and generated $20,000 from their small company.

Founding Microsoft

As Gates went to Harvard, Allen attended Washington State University. The two, however, stayed in touch. In 1975, Allen approached Gates with an article he saw featuring the Altair 8800, an early personal computer. It was the first of its kind.

Gates and Allen called MITS, the company behind Altair 8800, to ask if they could create software for the computer. The company’s president agreed, which led Gates and Allen to establish Microsoft. Gates dropped out of Harvard, while Allen left his programming job in Boston.

Gates and Allen chose Albuquerque, New Mexico, where MITS was located, to be the company’s operations base. In 1979, they moved operations to Bellevue, Washington.

Leading Microsoft

Under Gates’ leadership, Microsoft created an operating system for IBM PCs in 1980. The company named it MS-DOS. It also created a new and better operating system called Microsoft Windows.

Microsoft went public in 1986, thus raising millions of dollars and making Bill Gates a rich man.

Gates also led Microsoft to launch Microsoft Office in 1989. This software package contained the company’s office productivity software (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) bundled into one.

He also led the company into the internet realm with Internet Explorer and created better versions of the Windows operating system.

Gates resigned as CEO and president of Microsoft in 2000 to focus on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. However, he remained chief software architect until 2007 and board chairman until 2014. Gates officially left Microsoft’s board in 2020.

Achievements Besides Microsoft

Besides his work at Microsoft, Gates is also famous for philanthropic work through his foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates and his then-wife, Melinda Gates, founded this organization in 1994 as the William H. Gates Foundation.

They renamed it its current name in 1999 and merged it with Gates Learning Foundation.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation focuses on educational and community causes and solving global health issues. The organization once raised $200 million to promote AIDS prevention in India.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has received multiple awards, including the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation.

Personal Life

Bill Gates has always been a voracious reader since childhood. He also enjoys playing golf, tennis, and bridge.

Gates married Melinda French Gates in 1994, but the couple divorced in 2021. Bill and Melinda have three children: Rory, Jennifer, and Phoebe.

Timeline.

Bill Gates TimeLine

1955

Bill Gates is born in Seattle, Washington.

1967

Bill Gates’ parents enroll him at Lakeside Preparatory School.

1968

Bill Gates starts programming with Paul Allen.

1973

Bill Gates joins Harvard University.

1975

Gates drops out of Harvard University and starts Microsoft.

1979

Gates and Allen relocate Microsoft to Bellevue, Washington.

1985

Gates leads Microsoft to develop and launch the first version of Microsoft Windows.

1994

Bill Gates establishes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill and Melinda also get married this same year.

1995

Bill Gates leads Microsoft to develop and launch Windows 95 and Internet Explorer.

2000

Gates steps down as CEO of Microsoft and assumes the role of chief software architect.

2008

Gates resigns from his day-to-day role at Microsoft but remains board chairman.

2014

Gates steps down as chairman of Microsoft’s board but remains a board member.

2020

Bill officially leaves Microsoft’s board.

2021

Gates and Melinda divorce. Gates publishes his book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.

More to Explore About Bill Gates

Below you’ll find more information about the life of Bill Gates. Most lead to search results so you always have the most up to date information any time you visit this page.

Facts

  1. Bill Gates once wrote a program to help his school schedule classes.
  2. Bill Gates scored 1590 out of 1600 on his SATs.
  3. When leading Microsoft, Gates memorized the license plates of his employee’s cars to monitor who was in or out of the office.
  4. Gates’ favorite bands are Weezer and U2.
  5. Gates was featured in his own Netflix documentary series, Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates.

Search Results – Facts about Bill Gates

Successes & Lifetime Achievements

Among the technological achievements that led to the huge success many people envy are:

  • As a pioneer of computer software, Bill Gates cofounded Microsoft.
  • Bill Gates co-developed the BASIC programming language for Altair.
  • Bill Gates created a deal with IBM signed for the PC DOS operating system.
  • At 31, Bill Gates became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.

Bill has achieved many more achievements in technology and many other areas. You can find the latest search results by clicking the link below.

Search Results – Successes & Lifetime Achievements of Bill Gates.

Failures

No one is exempt from failure, and Bill Gates is no exception. Your mistakes are always in the public eye whenever you are well-known and famous. He is open to admitting his mistakes, turning them into lessons learned rather than beating himself up over them.

Below are some that stand out for me.

  • Traf-O-Data reads raw data from roadway traffic counters to create reports for traffic engineers. As a result of not doing any market research, Bill and his co-founders failed.
  • Despite the internet’s massive influence, Gates failed to grasp its magnitude.
  • According to Bill Gates, Microsoft’s failure to create Android was his greatest mistake.

There is a lot of inflammation in the link below about Bill Gates’ failures and how he handled them.

Character Traits

Gates’ character traits include:

  • Being an avid reader.
  • An active philanthropist.
  • Knowing how and what to prioritize.
  • Not being afraid to invest.
  • Being daring.

You can read numerous articles about Bill Gates’ character traits from the link below.

Search Results – Bill Gates Character Traits.

Management Style

Gates is known for being aggressive, which may have made him successful.

He can see the big picture and focus at an early project stage. Click on the link below to learn more about Gates’ management traits.

Search Results – Management Style of Bill Gates.

Lessons Learned

Thinking Ahead, Value Your Time, Innovate Fast, and Learning from Failures are some lessons we can learn from Bill Gates.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Rather than trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t, learn lessons from highly successful people and put your own spin on it or come up with something new.

Below is a link to several articles sharing Bill Gates’ valuable lessons.

Search Results – Lessons Learned From Bill Gates.

Quotes

I have listed a few quotes below, and there are many more from Bill Gates. You can go through them from the link below.

  • “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
  • “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”
  • “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
  • “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.”
  • “I believe in innovation and that the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts.”

Books

There are books available about Bill Gates if you are interested in learning more about his life and lifetime accomplishments. See the link below for the current publications available from Amazon.

View the most recent books related to Bill Gates on Amazon.

News

There is usually something in the news related to bill gates, and using a site like Google News allows you to see all the related stories covered by the media.

You also have the option to set up a Google alert to receive notifications anytime something new is published.

See Google’s news search results related to Bill Gates.

Videos

You can learn a lot about Bill Gates on YouTube and view interviews that offer a look into his personality and learn more about him.

See the most recent videos related to Bill Gates.

 

Image Attribution:

commons.wikimedia.org – Bill Gates

commons.wikimedia.org – Microsoft Building


A black report cover.