William Henry Gates III was born at Seattle Washington on this day in 1955. He attended the exclusive Lakeside School, where the Mothers Club used rummage sale proceeds to create one of the first computer labs ever installed in a high school. Because of his aptitude he was soon working part time at Computer Center Corporation where he worked on some commercial programs but finagled unlimited nighttime access to the PDP-10. He entered Harvard in 1973, but when the MITS Altair was released in 1975 he dropped out to develop software for personal computers, most notably the version of Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC) that ran on most different types of computers. When IBM was developing the original IBM PC, Gates came up with the Personal Computer Disk Operating System (PC-DOS). After creating Excel for the Apple Macintosh, Microsoft scrambled to create a similar environment for the PC; the first version of Windows was released in 1985. Gates married Melinda French, then a product manager at the company, in 1994. Although still Chairman of the Board, Gates left day-to-day responsibilities at Microsoft to Steve Balmer and now devotes his attention to philanthropy.
My favorite quote by far is the last one, being a business owner with employees, not to mention two teenage boys, words cannot describe how true this really is.
Also, if you get the chance, check out the movie “Pirates of Silicon Valley”; although the director takes a number of liberties with the truth for dramatic purposes, the story line does give those who don’t know much about the birth of Microsoft and Apple a new perspective.
“About 3 million computers get sold every year in China, but people don't pay for the software. Someday they will, though. As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”
“Does the e-mail say it's about ‘enlargement'? That might be spam.”
“At Microsoft there are lots of brilliant ideas but the image is that they all come from the top. I'm afraid that's not quite right.”
“In this business, by the time you realize you're in trouble, it's too late to save yourself. Unless you're running scared all the time, you're gone.”
“It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
“If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure.”
– Bill Gates