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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

43. On Bill Gates

Bill Gates, along with Paul Allen, founded Microsoft in 1976. He was born in 1955 in Seattle, Washington to William and Mary Gates. He attended Harvard in 1974. 

IBM approached Microsoft in 1980 regarding the new upcoming personal computer IBM PC. Gates developed and delivered what became known as MS DOS for a fee of $50,000. IBM wanted to buy the source code but Gates instead proposed IBM pay a licensing fee for copies of the software sold with their computers. This allowed Microsoft to license MS Dos to any other PC manufacture. 

Due to a diagnoses of Hodgkin’s disease Paul Allen resigned from Microsoft in 1983. It is unclear as to the full reasons Allen left as he was cleared and declared to be in remission a year after the diagnosis. 

In 1983 Bill Gates announced a new graphic interface display that would use a mouse and screen interface on the screen. Since 30% of the computer market was using MS DOS this meant manufacturers waited to hear about this Microsoft revolutionary technology that would eventually be known as Windows. Windows 1.0 was launched two years later in 1985. In 1990 Microsoft launched its office suite known as Microsoft Office. Following Bill Gates vision in the internal memo “Internel Tidal Wave” the company launched Windows 95 bundled with Internet Explorer. Of interest Bill Gates handed over the CEO position to his long-time friend and college friend Steve Balmer while giving himself the title of Chief Software Architect. Microsoft and NBC partnered in 1996 to create the 24/7 news station MSNBC. In 2001 Microsoft released the Xbox to compete with the Sony and Nintendo game consoles. The EU (European Union) through an antitrust lawsuit fined Microsoft $613 USD in 2004 and later 1.4 billion in 2007 for charges Microsoft made to rivals. 

Bill Gates is credited largely for bringing the personal computer to the masses. Windows at one point was on 90% of all personal computers world-wide. It still is by far the most used operating system in the industry. 

Of interest Bill Gates “saved” Apple by a $150 million dollar infusion into the company when Steve Jobs returned to Apple needing capital. Bill Gates in turn assured that Apple would develop and ship future versions of Microsoft products such Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, etc. 

Gates charitable foundation has an endowment estimated at $38 billion. There has been some criticism by the Los Angeles Times for investing assets in companies that have been accused of worsening poverty, polluting heavily, and pharmaceuticals that don’t sell in the developed world.

Known for being distant, extremely competitive, verbally aggressive, driven, and demanding management style some have criticized Bill Gates over the years. Gates was ranked number one in the “Top Gates was listed in Forbe’s Magazine in 1987 as a billionaire amongst the 400 Richest People in America. He was 32. Of interest Gates was made an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 2005. 

In 2008 Gates stepped down from day-to-day operations as the Chief Software Architect. He is currently the Technology advisor and on the board of directors for Microsoft, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, CEO of Cascade Investment and Chairman of Corbis. 

What do you think of Bill Gates the man and his influence in technology over the years? Leave a comment!


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