Born on Oct. 28, 1955, Gates grew up in Seattle with
his two sisters. Their father, William
H. Gates II, is a Seattle attorney. Their late mother, Mary Gates who died
in 1994, was a
schoolteacher, and chairwoman of United Way International.
Gates attended public elementary school and the private Lakeside School.
He was a strait A student who had an interest in maths. The school
invested in a computer for the students, primitive by today's standards
Gates was hooked and soon surpassed the computer teachers knowledge on the
device. He basically ate and breathed computers and dedicated most of his
spare time to them, His father thought he was wasting his time with them
but Gates still managed to get top grades in all his school activities
While at Lakeside He met Paul Allen who held a similar interest in
computers they teamed up to write software programs and one of their first
was a traffic monitoring program called traf-o-data, it made them $20,000
and they later got a job offer from a computer company called TRW.
In 1973, Gates entered Harvard University as a freshman, where he lived
down the hall from Steve Ballmer, now Microsoft's chief executive officer.
While at Harvard in 1975, Gates developed a version of the programming
language BASIC for the first microcomputer - the MITS Altair. They signed
a deal with MITS to gain office space in its headquarters, they called
themselves Microsoft and by 1977 Gates dropped out of Harvard to put more
effort into Microsoft.
In 1980 IBM asked Microsoft to advise them on software for their soon to
be released computer the IBM PC, They advised IBM to try and get the
rights to CP/M by Digital Research one of the most popular operating
systems at the time, The IBM and Digital Research deal did not go ahead so
IBM returned to gates to see if Microsoft could write their own version.
Microsoft had never done any operating system before so they contacted Tim
Patterson of Seattle Computer products, Patterson had written his own OS
(called Q-dos) in only 6 weeks he did it by studying the CP/M manual and
then writing his own version. Microsoft offered $50000 to licence Q-DOS
not telling them about their IBM deal.
Gates returned to IBM with their tweaked version of Q-DOS now called
MS-DOS and forged a deal that let Microsoft licence the software separate
to IBM's computer, This put Microsoft on the road to fortune.
Bill Gates had seen an early proto type of an Apple computer which used a
GUI (graphic user interface) the first GUI was developed by Zerox in 1970
and Bill wanted to develop one for the PC. IBM didn't jump at the idea at
first as they wanted to produce their own GUI and Microsoft was not the
only company about to make a GUI. Digital Research had a GUI named GEM
that was released with their own version of dos called DR-DOS.
The first version of Windows was announced in 1983 and was released in
1985, it was not a great success as a lot of what Bill wanted in the
program had to be removed due to legal challenges by Apple .
Version 2 of Windows, release in 1987, had a lot more functionality
Microsoft had written a license agreement with Apple to use some of their
ideas, it also covered all future versions of Windows which squashed a
later Apple legal case. Version 2 was the first to have GUI versions of
excel and word available as well as other 3rd party companies writing
programs for the GUI.
1990's Windows Version 3 was were the GUI started to become useful it
could now multitask and handle memory better it was the first serious
competitor to the Apple Mac. it also sold 10 million copies.
Around this time IBM wanted to create a new OS called OS/2 that could take
advantage of the power of the 386, they called on Microsoft for help but
the deal fell thought, fortunately Microsoft was able to keep the work
they started on OS/2 and redesign it to create the 32 bit OS Windows NT.
IBM continued work on OS/2 but it later was scraped once Windows 95 had
killed off most of its sales.
Windows 3.1 was a minor fix up of Windows 3 it included true type fonts
and a few other niceties while 3.11 gave windows improved networking
abilities. both updates were designed to compete against OS/2, despite
OS/2 being the better product, Windows sold like hot cakes.
In 1994 Gates married Melinda French. He built a house on the shores of
Lake Washington that cost 97 million dollars and every year it gets hit
with over a million in property taxes. it took seven years to build and a
lot of it is built into a hill.
After Windows 3.11, Microsoft began to develop windows 95 that was to
feature a new GUI to compete with OS/2. It needed to improve its stability
as opposed to the very unstable 3.11. It also need to be a 32 bit OS
although a lot of the old 16 bit OS were hidden underneath to improve
compatibility at the cost of stability, a problem that stayed with windows
up until Windows XP which got its basis from the more stable Windows NT
In 1995 gates published his fist book "The Road Ahead". his second book
was published in 1999, called "Business @ the Speed of Thought" it was
published in 25 languages and sold in 60 countries.
In addition to his love of computers and software, Gates is interested in
biotechnology. He sits on the board of ICOS, a company that specializes in
protein-based and small-molecule therapeutics, and he is an investor in a
number of other biotechnology companies. Gates also founded Corbis, which
is developing one of the world's largest resources of visual
information - a comprehensive digital archive of art and photography from
public and private collections around the globe.
Bill and Melinda Gates share their massive house with their 3 children
their first child Jennifer was born in 1996, his second child, Rory was
born in 1999 while the third child Phoebe was born in 2002.