William Henry Gates, III was born October 28, 1955 in Seattle, Washington. He was the middle child of three born to William and Mary Gates. ATrey,@ as he was called because of the III, was sent to a private school by his father, a lawyer, and mother, a former teacher now on several prestigous boards (Moritz, 238). At age 13, Bill had completely taught himself programming after taking a computer studies class. After scoring a perfect 800 on the mathematics half of the SAT, he graduated from Lakeside school and enrolled at Harvard University as a prelaw major.
As a student Gates was a wonder. He received an A in an economics class without attending and cramming the night before the final exam. In June 1975, Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to pursue a career in computers full time. Later that year after dropping out of Harvard he moved to New Mexico. There he and Allen Kay established Microsoft to produce their Basic for the MITS. Eighteen months later they were a few hundred thousand dollars richer and were hired by Tandy to develop software for its radio shack computers.
Gates and Allen then moved their headquarters to Seattle, Washington. In Seattle, Gates re-wrote an operating system and called it MS-DOS, which stands for Microsoft Disk Operating System. Microsoft would eventually sell the rights of MS-DOS to IBM, making it a major computer corporation. Other computer companies wanted Microsoft to produce software for their computers, including Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple computers. With the operating system established, Gates and Microsoft set out to create applications software, for tasks such as financial analysis or word processing.
Microsoft has continued being successful through the years and will be in the future as long as ! it keeps innovating new and exciting computer software. Bill Gates has his eye on the future. He sees the world in a Apowerful, high-speed network-both within companies and across the so called Information Superhighway@ (Brandt, 57). He hopes to be on top of the Transformation from Personal Computers to nets. Gates predicts that an explosion of low-cost, high-capacity, networks will radically alter how we use technology in the upcoming decade.
Now before Bill Gates came onto the scene in the early seventies, the main focus in the computer world was hardware. Chips, circuit boards, capacitors and controllers these were what computers were all about at this time. Companies like IBM, Compaq and Apple were at the head of the pack in the Aindustry that pushed hefty boxes of metal and plastic and silicon at thousands ob bucks a pop. @(Manes, 4) No one had yet attempted to tap the software business, a market that was inevitably going to grow as fast of faster than its complimentary hardware market.
Bill gates saw this opportunity and took advantage of it. When William Henry Gates came into the world in the year 1955, the fledgling computer industry was still trying to spread its wings and fly. AOn the day he was born in 1955, fewer then 500 electronic computers had existed in the entire world, their total retail value amounted to less then $200 million, and the term Asoftware@ had not yet been coined. @(Manes, 2) Bill first laid a hand on a computer in 1968 while in junior high school. The computer business was rapidly transforming at this time, and so was Bill Gates.
He saw the real profitable side of computers was not their hardware. Rather it was the software end of the business. Good software is what makes a computer exciting and easy to use. Bill Gates grabbed this concept and ran with it. The result: As of 1993 AGates was personally worth more than $2 billion@, and his company, Microsoft, was Avalued at more than $7 billion. @(Manes, 2) As Microsoft and the software industry grew, the computer hardware manufacturers no longer saw the opportunity to exploit Bill Gates= company, as they had done initially with BASIC, one of the first programs Microsoft produced.
Rather, they saw Bill Gates and Microsoft as the Controller of their destinies. Microsoft software had become so popular that if your hardware could not run it, you were certain of defeat. Throughout the early 80’s, Bill was the ruler of the computer industry. AHis decisions on which machines to back and which to ignore helped to make companies and break them. Heads of firms that created computers and microprocessors regularly make pilgrimages to Microsoft=s wooded headquarters in Redmond, Washington, to sit at the feet of the master. @(Manes, 4)
In 1986, Microsoft again revolutionized the computer industry and launched its first version of Windows. Microsoft called Windows an Aoperating environment,@ meaning it was designed mainly to run other programs. The difference between this system and the original BASIC language was that Windows incorporated a Graphical user interface or AGUI@, (pronounced as Agooey@) as it was known in the industry. This interface gave a symbolic representation of a desktop to every computer screen across the country, complete with little pictures called Aicons@ to signify different files and programs.
Opening these files and programs was like opening different Awindows@, hence the name. Finally, non-Macintosh personal computers had become user friendly; no longer was it seen by the majority of the consuming public as a cold, high-tech piece of equipment whose secrets could only be unlocked by some alien script. The first seven years after the announcement of windows, however, was not exactly smooth sailing for Bill Gates and Microsoft. AOver those seven years, the windows story had been one of tepid reviews, backhanding compliments, empty hype, sluggish sales. (Manes, 7) If these problems were not enough, in the same period, Apple computer, headed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, had sued Microsoft accusing the company of stealing their Macintosh ideas for the Windows application. Despite all of these setbacks, Windows finally caught on and spread like wildfire. Since its introduction, Microsoft has introduced numerous updated versions of the original windows application software, the most recent being Windows 95. Like the introduction of the original Windows program ; however, the Windows 95 version was anything but smooth.
Microsoft again found itself in another legal battle, but this time it was up against the U. S. Justice Department. AAlthough the department will confirm only that it is conducting an unspecified investigation in the computer industry, it appears to have launched three antitrust probes into Bill Gates empire. @ reported the June 24, 1995 issue of the Economic magazine. (The Economist, 59) The basis behind these probes was focused upon possible misuse of licensing agreements and royalty fees by Microsoft with many personal computer makers.
Just as the operating software of Bill Gates and Microsoft become the standard of personal computers, so would Mr. Gates like to dominate the software end of the up and coming multimedia market. This market spans from virtual reality video games to interactive multimedia programming on cable television. To begin its movement into this market, Gates now has a contract to Asupply software to Sega, a Japanese video-games maker whose central character, a hyperactive hedgehog called Sonic, is the industry=s hottest property. In addition to Sega, AMr. Gates has also been talking to Time Warner and TCI about forming a venture, to be known as CableSoft, that should set standards for interactive TV. @(The Economist, 73) Bill Gates and his company Microsoft have been at the head of the rapidly changing computer industry for much of its existence. If profit margins and stock prices continue to grow and Microsoft products continue to be household names, the duo will remain in this position will into the future.