Bill Gates is one of the most influential people in the world. He is cofounder of the most recognized brands in the computer industry with nearly every desk top computer using at least one software program from Microsoft. According to Forbes magazine Gates is the wealthiest man in the world and has been in the number 1 position for at least seven years.
Gates was born and grew up in Seattle, Washington USA. His father, William H. Gates II was a Seattle attorney and his mother, Mary Maxwell Gates was a school teacher and chairperson of the United Way charity. Gates and his two sisters had a comfortable upbringing, with Gates able to attend the exclusive secondary "Lakeside School".
Bill Gates started studying at Harvard University in 1973 where he met up with Paul Allen. Gates and Allen gates worked on a version of the programming language BASIC, that was the basis for the MITS Altair (the first microcomputer available). He did not go on to graduate from Harvard University as he left in his junior year to start what was to become the largest computer software company in the world, Microsoft Corporation.
"To enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential." Microsoft Mission Statement
After dropping out of Harvard Bill Gates and his partner Paul Allen set about revolutionizing the computer industry. Gates believed there should be a computer on every office desk and in every home.
In 1975 the company Micro-soft was formed, an abbreviation of microcomputer software. It soon became simply "Microsoft" and went on to completely change the way people use computers.
Microsoft helped to make the computer easier to use with its developed and purchased software, and made it a commercial success. The success of Microsoft began with the MS-DOS computer operating system that Gates licensed to IBM. Gates also set about protecting the royalties that he could acquire from computer software by aggressively fighting against all forms of software piracy, effectively creating the retail software market that now exists today. This move was quite controversial at the time as it was the freedom of sharing that produced much innovation and advances in the newly forming software industry. But it was this stand against software piracy, that was to be central in the great commercial success that Microsoft went on to achieve.
With his great success in the computer software industry also came many criticisms. With his ambitious and aggressive business philosophy, Gates or his Microsoft lawyers have been in and out of courtrooms fighting legal battles almost since Microsoft began.
The Microsoft monopoly sets about completely dominating every market it enters through either acquisition, aggressive business tactics or a combination of them. Many of the largest technology companies have fought legally against the actions of Microsoft, including Apple Computer, Netscape, Opera, WordPerfect, and sun Microsystems.
With an estimated wealth of $46.6 billion in 2004, Bill Gates is the richest man in the world and he should be starting to get used to the number spot as he has been there from the mid-ninties up until now. The famous investor Warren Buffett is gaining on Gates though with an estimated $42.9 billion in 2004.
Microsoft hasn't just made Bill Gates very wealthy though. According to the Forbes business magazine Paul Allen, Microsoft cofounder is the 5th richest man in the world with an estimated $21 billion. While Bill Gates' long time friend and Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer is the 19th richest man in the world at $12.4 billion.
Being the richest man in the world has also enabled Gates to create one of the world's largest charitable foundations. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has an endowment of more than $28 billion, with donations totaling more than $1 billion every year. The foundation was formed in 2000 after merging the "Gates Learning Foundation" and "William H. Gates Foundation". Their aim is to "bring innovations in health and learning to the global community".
Bill Gates continues to play a very active role in the workings of the Microsoft Company, but has handed the position of CEO over to Steve Ballmer. Gates now holds the positions of "Chairman" and "Chief Software Architect". He lives near Lake Washington with his wife Melinda French Gates and their three children. Interests of Gates include reading, golf and playing bridge.
In March 2005 William H. Gates received an "honorary" knighthood from the queen of England. Gates was bestowed with the KBE Order (Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for his services in reducing poverty and improving health in the developing countries of the world.
After the privately held ceremony in Buckingham Palace with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Gates commented on the recognition..
"I am humbled and delighted. I am particularly pleased that this honor helps recognize the real heroes our foundation (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) supports to improve health in poor countries. Their incredible work is helping ensure that one day all people, no matter where they are born, will have the same opportunity for a healthy life, and I'm grateful to share this honor with them."
The KBE Order of the British Empire is the second highest Order given out, but it is only an honorary knighthood as only citizens that are British or a part of the Commonwealth receive the full Order. This means that Gates does not become Sir Bill Gates. << Less Bio