On this day, October 28 in the year 1955, the world’s second richest living person was born in Washington State, United States. His name is William Henry Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, the world’s largest software company. As of October 2020, his net worth is $113.4 billion (source: forbes.com).
Bill Gates is the son of a lawyer (father) and a banker (mother). As a teenager, he spent many hours in front of the computer such that before he graduated in high school, he was already an accomplished programmer. With a score of 1590 out of 1600 on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT), he was accepted at Harvard University. On his second year at Harvard, he dropped out after reading from a magazine that a new microcomputer called Altair 8800 was released. He wanted to write the operating system for this machine. So, at age 20, he set up Microsoft in 1975 together with Paul Allen, his high school friend. Their first product was the Altair BASIC, an OS dedicated for the Altair 8800 machine which was based on the Intel 8080 microprocessor.
Soon, Microsoft was producing softwares for various systems. In 1980, it entered a partnership with IBM to develop the operating system for its personal computer. The system was called PC-DOS. For other computer manufacturers, it sold the system as MS-DOS. This arrangement landed Microsoft on top of the nascent software industry. In 1985, the company released its first version of Windows. Its near monopoly of the operating system for personal computers has begun.
In 1986, Microsoft was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1999, it became the biggest listed company with a market value of more than $618.9 billion. In 2000, Bill Gates stepped down as chief executive officer of his company. He also gave away the position of chairman of the board in 2014 although he remains a member.
Bill Gates is married to Melinda. They have three children. Currently, most of his wealth is derived from Cascade Investment, the family’s holding company.