Bill Gates: The Man Who Put a Computer in Every Home

1 minutes reading time
Published 2 May 2024
Reviewed by: Kasper Karlsson

In the quiet corners of a Seattle classroom, a young Bill Gates discovered a portal to a new world – an encounter with a teletype terminal that would chart the course of his future and redefine the modern age. This gifted teenager, driven by an insatiable curiosity and a keen intellect nurtured in the halls of the private Lakeside School, was poised to embark on a journey that would transform him from a passionate student to a visionary leader. As co-founder of Microsoft, Gates not only pioneered personal computing but also reimagined how technology could be accessible to all, laying the foundation for a legacy that would extend far beyond the realms of software, into global philanthropy, and beyond. This is the story of Bill Gates: innovator, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a visionary leader whose impact now echoes around the world more than ever.

Key Insights

  • Early exposure to computers: Bill Gates's interaction with computing began at an early age during his schooling at Lakeside School, where he first encountered a computer at the age of 13.

  • Founding Microsoft: Gates, together with Paul Allen, founded Microsoft in 1975, driven by the vision of having a personal computer in every home and on every desk.

  • Strategic partnerships and innovations: The partnership with IBM in 1980 was a significant milestone for Microsoft, allowing it to license its operating system, MS-DOS, to IBM's personal computers.

  • Philanthropic efforts: After stepping down from day-to-day operations at Microsoft, Gates shifted his focus towards global philanthropy, particularly through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Bill Gates: The Early Years

Bill Gates had a humble yet intellectually vibrant beginning that set the stage for his future achievements, eventually becoming one of the world's wealthiest individuals. His early life in Seattle, Washington, was marked by curiosity and a drive that would later define his role in the technology world.

William Henry Gates III was born on October 28, 1955, to William Gates Senior, a prominent lawyer, and Mary Maxwell Gates, a schoolteacher. Growing up in an upper-middle-class family, Gates was the second of three children, and from an early age, he was exposed to an environment that encouraged competition and intellectual development due to his father's business endeavors.

Gates's academic journey began at the private and now famous Lakeside School, where he displayed a keen interest in reading and mathematics. It was here, at the age of 13, that Gates first encountered computers. The school had a teletype terminal that connected to a General Electric (GE) computer for class use. Gates, along with a few classmates, became engrossed in exploring the possibilities of this new technology. They would often skip classes to spend time on the machine, and it was during these early years that Gates began developing his programming skills.

Recognizing their intense interest in computing, Gates and his friends formed the "Lakeside Programmers Club" in 1968. The club's first major project was to exploit bugs in the operating system to obtain free computer time from the company that provided the school's computer access. Gates's abilities soon caught the attention of local businesses, including Information Sciences Inc., for which he and his fellow club members created a payroll program.

Gates's early business ventures began with Traf-O-Data, a company he started with his Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and another friend. The company aimed to make traffic counters based on the Intel 8008 processor. Although Traf-O-Data was not a resounding success, it marked an important step in Gates's journey, teaching him valuable lessons about software development and business management.

After scoring 1590 out of 1600 on the SAT, Gates enrolled at Harvard University in the fall of 1973. He intended to pursue a career in law, but his plans quickly changed as he found himself more drawn to computers than to his pre-law studies. At Harvard, Gates spent many long nights in the computer lab working on various programming projects.

During his time at Harvard, Gates developed a version of the programming language BASIC for the first microcomputer – the MITS Altair. This was a pivotal moment, as it led to the start of his business venture, Microsoft, with Paul Allen.

Founding Microsoft

The story of Microsoft begins with a young, ambitious Bill Gates and his vision to put a computer on every desk and in every home. Gates, alongside his childhood friend Paul Allen, founded Microsoft in 1975 when they were just 19 and 22 years old, respectively.

The trigger for Microsoft's inception was the release of the MITS Altair 8800 by Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Seeing an opportunity, Paul Allen pointed out to Gates a magazine cover featuring the Altair 8800, suggesting that they could develop software for the new wave of microcomputers. Recognizing the potential, Gates and Allen reached out to MITS with a bold claim: they had a working BASIC interpreter for the Altair.

This was not entirely true – at the time, they hadn't even written a line of code. Nevertheless, Gates and Allen quickly developed the interpreter, working tirelessly to ensure it was ready. Their successful demonstration of the BASIC interpreter to MITS in 1975 led to a deal to license their software. This was a pivotal moment, and led to Microsoft's official founding on April 4, 1975, with Bill Gates as CEO.

Originally, the company was named "Micro-Soft," a blend of "microcomputer" and "software." The hyphen was soon dropped, and Microsoft became the company's official name. After relocating to Albuquerque, close to MITS, Microsoft began operations in a small office, marking the modest beginnings of what would become the world's highest-valued company.

Further reading: Microsoft's Journey to Becoming the World's Most Valuable Company

The IBM Partnership

The arguably most crucial turning point for Microsoft in its early days came when IBM approached Microsoft in 1980 to develop an operating system for its first personal computer. Microsoft bought an existing operating system, QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System), from Seattle Computer Products, modified it, and renamed it MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System). This operating system was licensed to IBM under a non-exclusive agreement, allowing Microsoft to license it to other PC manufacturers as well.

To fully grasp the significance of this, consider that IBM was the world’s largest company by market cap at that time, while Microsoft had just been founded by two young visionaries. This strategic partnership with IBM legitimized both Microsoft and personal computing. MS-DOS became immensely successful, turning into the standard operating system sold with most PCs. This deal not only established Microsoft’s central position in software development but also illustrated Gates's foresight and business acumen in structuring agreements that were advantageous long-term.

Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft in 2000, though he remained chairman and chief software architect. In 2008, he transitioned out of a day-to-day role in the company to dedicate more time to philanthropy but continued to serve as chairman until 2014.

Quartr Pro is revolutionizing professional public market research

Request a personal demo to learn why Quartr Pro is quickly being adopted by leading asset managers, hedge funds, investor relations departments, and sell-side analysts worldwide.


Bill Gates' Philanthropic Efforts

Alongside his then-wife Melinda, Gates launched the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, which has since become one of the most influential private foundations in the world. Through substantial donations and active involvement, Gates has tackled global issues such as health, education, and poverty, aiming to improve the quality of life for millions around the globe.

The foundation was formed through the merging of the William H. Gates Foundation and the Gates Learning Foundation, both of which had been previously established by Gates and his family. With an initial endowment of $28 billion, it set out to globally enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, and, in the United States, to expand educational opportunities.

One of the foundation’s primary objectives is to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty worldwide. It has been particularly active in the fight against infectious diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. The foundation's efforts include funding research, developing vaccines, and implementing programs to educate and support healthcare initiatives in developing countries.

For instance, the foundation has invested heavily in malaria research and prevention, contributing to the development and distribution of more effective malaria vaccines and supporting the distribution of mosquito nets and antimalarial medications. This focus on practical and scientific solutions has had a measurable impact on reducing death rates from these diseases.

Bill Gates has personally pledged to give away the majority of his wealth through The Giving Pledge, which he launched with Warren Buffett in 2010. This initiative encourages the world's richest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. Interestingly, both Gates and Buffett, who are also close friends, rank among the world's largest donors of capital to philanthropy.

Bill Gates Net Worth

As of April 2024, Bill Gates' net worth is estimated to be around $130 billion, positioning him among the top five wealthiest individuals in the world. Gates' wealth, largely attributable to his role in founding and leading Microsoft, would notably be much larger if he had not donated so much to philanthropy.


From his early days as a curious child at the Lakeside School to his rise as a pioneering figure in technology and beyond, Bill Gates' life is nothing short of remarkable. His journey from a young, enthusiastic programmer to the co-founder of Microsoft set the stage for a technological revolution that placed a computer on nearly every desk and in every home, fundamentally altering the way we work and communicate.

After stepping down as CEO of Microsoft, Gates pivoted his boundless energy towards global issues, founding the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with his then-wife Melinda. This initiative marked a new chapter in his life, dedicated to combating global health crises, enhancing educational opportunities, and reducing poverty through substantial philanthropic efforts.

Bill Gates' story is not just one of wealth and success but also of responsibility and philanthropy. His ongoing commitment to bettering the world reflects a legacy that extends far beyond software, reaching into the lives of millions around the globe. Gates' life reminds us that one person's vision can indeed change the world, inspiring future generations to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

Why are finance professionals around the world choosing Quartr Pro?

With a broad global customer base spanning from equity analysts, portfolio managers, to IR departments, the reasons naturally vary, but here are four that we often hear:

Increase productivity

Eliminate hours of searching for specific data points buried deep inside company material.

Get a one-stop-shop solution

Everything you need for qualitative public market research in one single platform.

Uncover rare insights

Understand the qualitative aspects of entire industries or specific companies.

Leverage the power of AI

Incorporate AI functionality into your daily workflow.