(William Henry Gates III; Seattle, Washington, 1955) computer scientist and American businessman, founder of Microsoft. The fortune of this early programmer, that did not finish his studies at age 31 was already a billionaire, comes from the successful operating system, MS-DOS (1981), which would evolve to become the popular Windows 3.1 (1992) and would result in the successive versions of this operating system, ubiquitous today in the vast majority of laptops and desktops.
Paul Allen and Bill Gates
Bill Gates in the presentation of Windows XP
With his wife Melinda Gates
It is difficult to judge to what extent it was luck or great intuition warn that the emergence of consumer computing, there was a valuable market in the manufacture of computers (hardware) and the creation of the operating system and programs that were to be used in them (software). The truth is that while manufacturers competed hard for the hardware, a series of circumstances led to your operating system to spread until it is just unbeatable. In fact, often is it has accused Microsoft of monopolistic practices, and its founder's lack of true creativity. But, even admitting it, it must recognize that its effective contribution to the popularization of computer science (and the dizzying technological escalation which has led) was immense.
Bill Gates was born into a wealthy family that gave him an education in centers of elite school of Lakeside (1967-73) and the University of Harvard (1973-77). Always in partnership with his friend Paul Allen, is introduced in the computing world forming a small team dedicated to implementing programmes that were sold to companies or public administrations. In 1975 they moved to Albuquerque (New Mexico) to work supplying company MITS a series of programs that can be used with the first micro-computer, the Altair, which had developed a version of the BASIC programming language.
That same year they founded in Alburquerque its own company producing computer software , Microsoft Corporation, with Bill Gates as President and CEO. His business consisted of programmes adapted to the needs of the new microcomputers and offer them to the companies cheaper manufacturers that if had developed them themselves. When, in 1979, Microsoft began to grow (was then sixteen employees), Bill Gates decided to move its headquarters to Seattle.
The software business
In the early 1970's, the invention of the microprocessor allowed cheaper and reduce the size of the huge existing computers until then. It was a decisive step towards a dream long cherished by many leading companies in the technology sector: build computers in size and reasonable price that would enable bring computing to all businesses and households. The first to arrive could start a business highly lucrative and huge potential. It was unthinkable that a company like Microsoft, dedicated only to the software (operating systems and programs) could play some role in this race between manufacturers of hardware, i.e., machines.
Paul Allen and Bill Gates
And it was at the beginning: a competition among computer manufacturers not too honest, because there were more than one plagiarism. In the mid-1970s, in a crowded garage of oil cans and household goods, Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak designed and built a computer circuit board, all a sample of innovation and imagination. At the beginning they intended to sell only the plate, but is soon convinced of the advisability of starting a company, Apple, and sell computers. In 1977 began marketing the second version of its personal computer, the Apple II, that was sold with an operating system, also created by Apple: a historic milestone that marks the birth of personal computing.
Rather naively, Apple made the mistake of giving other companies meet the exact specifications of the Apple II. To develop its first personal computer, the IBM company copied and adapted the open architecture of the Apple computer, and chose the Intel 8088 microprocessor, which already handled 16-bit characters. Thus, in 1981, IBM was able to launch its first PC (Personal Computer, personal computer). But the operating system of your PC, essential for its operation, had not been created by IBM, but by Microsoft. A year earlier, in 1980, Bill Gates had come to an agreement with IBM to provide an operating system adapted to their personal computers, MS-DOS, which, since 1981, would be installed on all computers of the brand.
IBM was a great commercial success with your PC. With a price which, with the passage of the years, would be most affordable ever, any consumer could buy a computer of reduced size, whose applications were not only increase and that covered both leisure as many work activities. But IBM also committed errors in the use of the patent. Many companies, aware of the huge boom coming, engaged in the manufacture and marketing of the IBM PC compatible, called in the clonecomputer jargon, more economic.
The market was flooded with the IBM-compatible personal computers running the operating system of Microsoft, which could come installed or purchased separately, because, although IBM had commissioned it, MS-DOS was not their property: had given sales rights to Microsoft. On the other hand, apart from companies and administrations, not always users acquired the license of MS-DOS. It was very simple to get a copy and install it without paying, fact that it favored further its dissemination.
The MS-DOS to Windows
Yet there were other options, but they remained in the minority: thanks to its low cost, the combination more MS-DOS PC ended up monopolizing the market and becoming the standard. While computer manufacturers were trying to reduce costs, delivered to a price war that no one could get a dominant position, a company's software, the Bill Gates, was made with virtually all operating systems and a large part of the programme market.
Thereafter, the expansion of Microsoft was spectacular. And not only because the PC needed an operating system to run, but also because the programmes and specific applications (a text processor, a worksheet, a game) are developed on the basis of a particular operating system, and that system was MS-DOS. Software (and including the same Microsoft) companies could develop, for example, different word processors, competing with each other to please the user. But as the vast majority of users had MS-DOS, developing programs to work with MS-DOS, and they had just done a favor to Microsoft, which could boast that over its operating system could run all programs imaginable: his own and almost all of the competition. That vicious feedback was the fabulous assets of Microsoft and Bill Gates knew how to keep it.
MS-DOS, however, was a little friendly environment, whose management required the knowledge of commands that are introduced through the keyboard. With the introduction in 1984 of the Macintosh personal computer, Apple seemed to again take the lead. Your windows system meant a quantum leap; its interface simulating the distribution of a work by means of icons table. A small device, mouse, whose movement was reflected in the screen with a blinking icon, allowed to cross it in search of the document or search program. Instead of having to remember each of the operations commands and typing them in every moment, it was enough to go to listings of possible actions and click with the mouse on the option chosen.
For the moment, those innovations did not seem to make shadow to Bill Gates. In 1983, Paul Allen left Microsoft, suffering from a serious illness. And when, in 1986, Microsoft went to the stock exchange, shares quoted so high that Bill Gates became the billionaire younger history. Dump in a process of accelerated technological innovation, and in your case more imitating the Apple Macintosh that innovate, Gates launched a Web interface for MS-DOS called Windows: 1990 Windows 3.0 and Windows 3.1 in 1992.
It was not, in fact, a new operating system, but, as he has been said, a graphical interface with mouse, icons and windows under which was still running old MS-DOS, but was very well received by users, who finally had a system as intuitive as the Macintosh but much cheaper to run on a PC, thanks to which easily prevailed in the market. The enormous success led to true renewal that was Windows 95 (in whose campaign to promote worldwide took the own Gates the role of Prophet of the Cybernetics society as personification of Microsoft), to which would be Windows 98 and successive versions of this operating system, among which stands out Windows XP (2001), the first one hundred per cent again minted leaving of side the old MS-DOS.
Bill Gates in the presentation of Windows XP
Meanwhile, the business had not ceased to grow (of the 1,200 employees who had in 1986 to more than 20,000 in 1996), and with the spread of Windows, Bill Gates went on to exercise a virtual monopoly on the market software world, strengthened by his victory in the lawsuit in 1993 against Apple, which had sued Microsoft on the grounds that Windows was a plagiarism of the graphical interface of your Macintosh. Since 1993, he embarked to the company in the promotion of the media, especially in the field of education.
In addition to Windows, many programs and most basic and important concrete applications produced by the company (the office suite Microsoft Office, for example) were always the best-selling. Emerged many critical voices that censored its monopolistic position, and on numerous occasions Microsoft was carried by this to the courts by competing companies and Governments, but nothing managed to stop their continuous ascent.
Businessman and philanthropist
The talent of Gates has been reflected in multiple computer programs, whose use has spread all over the world as personal computers basic languages; but also in the success of a flexible and competitive company managed with heterodox criteria and with special attention to the selection and motivation of the staff. The Gates innovations contributed to the rapid spread of the use of personal computing, producing a transcendental technical innovation in the forms of produce, transmit and consume information. President Bush recognized the importance of the work of Gates giving him the National Medal of technology in 1992.
With his wife Melinda Gates
Rapid enrichment has been accompanied by a visionary speech and optimistic about a future transformed by the penetration of computers in all facets of everyday life, responding to the dream of introducing a personal computer in every home and on every job; This speech, which encourages a positive attitude towards the great social changes of our time, enjoys high ratings among young people around the world by coming from the man who symbolizes the material success based on the use of intelligence (his book road to the future was one of the best-selling in 1995).
Critics of Bill Gates, which are also numerous, criticise him, not without reason, their lack of creativity (certainly his talented and their innovations are not comparable to a Steve Jobs, and instead followed the roads opened by the founder of Apple), and also criticize its business policy, claiming that it was always based in monopoly and the absorption of the competition or talent to hit book. Critics like to underline something completely real, despite the fact that it looks like an urban legend: even the MS-DOS is his work. Bill Gates bought it for $50,000 to a so-called Seattle programmer Tim Paterson, renamed it and delivered it to IBM.
Currently, Microsoft is still one of the most valuable companies in the world, despite having lost several battles, especially the Internet and the systems operating phone mobile, who now leads Google (Sergei Brin and Larry Page), another giant so valuable as Microsoft. Front of the dynamism of the Internet era, in which emerging and quickly become billion-dollar ideas like social network Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, Gates company seems to have been somewhat ossified, although not put in doubt the strength of his position.
This is not the sole responsibility of Bill Gates, who, already in the year 2000, gave the Executive Presidency of Microsoft Steve Ballmer and became Chief Architect software to focus on the technological aspects. Bill Gates had married in 1994 with Melinda French, which would have three children. In 2000 created, together with his wife, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, charitable institution dedicated to health and education issues, whose splendid funding comes largely from his personal fortune. Not in vain, the founder of Microsoft is a regular annual ForbesMagazine lists: in 2014 had headed it already fifteen times as the richest man of the world.
In 2008, definitely Bill Gates left Microsoft to devote himself entirely to his work at the Foundation, which had received the Prince of Asturias Award for international cooperation in 2006. If before it was a controversial figure, this new stage as philanthropist inspires rather unanimous admiration: as it was his company, its Foundation is the largest in the world with regard to the amount of their financial contributions to all kinds of support, research and development programs.