William Henry Gates III, or Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and known for his philanthropy, is now America’s largest private – farmland owner.
With 242,000 acres of farmland under his belt, Gates is also the fourth – richest person with a total net worth of nearly $121 billion.
He, along with his wife Melinda Gates, hold an impressive and extensive farmland portfolio stretching over 18 states in the United States, according to The Land Report.
Born and raised in Seattle, Bill Gates and his childhood buddy Paul Allen created and built one of the biggest and most prominent brands globally – Microsoft, the world’s largest personal-computer software company, in 1975.
Facts about BASIC – an exciting story
Gates in 1975 read the issue of Popular Electronics, which demonstrated the Altair 8800; after reading the issue, he contacted the MITS( Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems) and told them that he, along with his counterparts, were working on a BASIC interpreter for the platform.
However, this was a bluff – neither he nor Paul Allen had written any code for Altair, but he had captured the interest of the president of MITS who asked him to demonstrate the same.
They together developed an Altair emulator that ran on a mini-computer within a couple of weeks, and then the BASIC interpreter.
The demonstration was a success, resulting in the deal with MITS to distribute the interpreter as Altair BASIC. The success also resulted in both gates and Allen being hired by MITS.
Gates was then studying in Harvard, from where he took a leave of absence to work with Allen; Allen named the partnership “Micro-Soft,” a combination of the two words “microcomputers” and “software”; they hired their first employee, a high school collaborator Ric Wieland.
However, Gates never returned to Harvard, and they dropped the hyphen and officially registered the trade name “Microsoft.”
According to Gates, in the first five years of the company being formed, he personally reviewed and, many a time rewrote every line of code; as the company grew, he transitioned into a manager role and then as an executive.
The foundation of Microsoft
The contract with IBM is what propelled Microsoft and Bill Gates for the world to take notice. IBM, then the leading supplier of computer equipment to commercial enterprise, approached Microsoft in July 1980 in regards to software for its upcoming personal computer – IBM PC.
The contract with IBM did not pay much in terms of money, but it propelled Microsoft for the “prestige” that came with the collaboration. The sales of MS-DOS made Microsoft a significant player in the industry. The press quickly came to identify Microsoft as the influencer on the IBM PC. PC Magazine asked if Gates was “the man behind the machine?”
The launch of Windows
Microsoft launched Microsoft Windows as the first retail version in 1985. The company struck a deal with IBM to develop a separate operating system called OS/2 the following year.
However, the partnership between the two firms disintegrated, despite the two companies successfully developing the new system’s first version due to mounting creative differences.
The rise of Microsoft and Gates
Gates had the primary responsibility of the company’s product strategy right from the company’s’ founding in 1975 – 2006.
Gates’s reputation preceded him; he was known to be as sarcastic as one could get. Many of his managers described him as being verbally combative.
He was known to interrupt presentations with comments such as “that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard” and “why don’t you give up your options and join the Peace Corps?”. When he found that subordinates appeared to be procrastinating, he was known to remark sarcastically, “I’ll do it over the weekend.”
He also gained the impression of being distant from others and was known not to be reachable on his phone and for not returning calls. He was also known to be highly competitive and skilled at what he did.
In his tenure, Gates made and approved many decisions that led to antitrust litigation over Microsoft’s business practices. In 1998 in the United States vs. Microsoft case, Gates gave deposition testimony.
He argued with the examiner David Boies over the contextual meaning of words such as “compete,” “concerned,” and “we”; later in the year, when the portions of the videotaped deposition were played in the court, the judge was seen laughing and shaking his head.
However, despite the humor, the judge rules that Microsoft had committed monopolization, tying, and blocking competition, each in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Bill Gates retirement
Gates continued with his philanthropy and works on his other projects since leaving day – to – day operations at Microsoft.
In 2013, Gates was the world’s highest-earning billionaire, and his net worth grew by US$15.8 billion to US$78.5 billion.
Gates has been very vocal on climate change and has been reported to have said that his greatest fear when he looks 50 years into the future, there will be some terrible things happening in the coming 50 – 100 years, but that he hoped that none of them would scale to events such as a pandemic or nuclear or bioterrorism.
In 1994, Gates donated some of his Microsoft shares to create “William H. Gates Foundation.”
In 2000, Gates and his wife Melinda donated stocks worth $5 billion to create Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which was declared by the Funds for NGO company in 2013, as the worlds’ wealthiest charitable foundation assets, reportedly valued at more than $34.6 billion.
He has worked extensively on climate change issues and global access to energy, which he has said are critical and interrelated issues.
Through his work, he has urged the governments and the private sectors to invest in research and development in order to make clean, reliable energy cheaper.
Gates believes that a breakthrough innovation in sustainable energy technology could drive down greenhouse gas emissions, poverty, and bring about economic benefits by stabilizing energy prices.
Gates has been one of the few people who has contributed not only in terms of money but also in terms of his time, knowledge, and intent for a better world.