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Entrepreneur Bill Gates founded the world's largest software business, Microsoft, with Paul Allen, and subsequently became one of the richest men in the world.
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Bill Gates and his partner Paul Allen built the world's largest software business, Microsoft. He became one of the richest men in the world and a major philanthropist through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
As a teenager, Bill Gates became obsessed with computers.
Mary Gates played a big part early on in the success of her son Bill and his upstart company, Microsoft.
Bill and Melinda Gates started the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which helps people and organizations all over the world.
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Rumors abound as to why Allen left Microsoft. Some say Bill Gates pushed him out, but many say it was a life-changing experience for Allen and he saw there were other opportunities that he could invest his time in.
Though their rivalry is legend, Microsoft and Apple shared many of their early innovations. In 1981 Apple invited Microsoft to help develop software for Macintosh computers. Some developers were involved in both Microsoft develeopment, and the development of Microsoft applications for Macintosh. The collaboration could be seen in some shared names between the Microsoft and Macintosh systems.
It was through this knowledge sharing that Microsoft was to develop Windows. A system was that used a mouse to drive a graphic interface, displaying text and images on the screen. This differed greatly from the text and keyboard driven MS-DOS system where all text formatting showed on the screen as code and not what actually would be printed. Bill Gates quickly recognized the threat this kind of software might pose for MS-DOS and Microsoft overall. For the unsophisticated user—which was most of the buying public—the graphic imagery of the VisiCorp software would be so much easier to use. Gates announced in an advertising campaign that a new Microsoft operating system was about to be developed that would use a graphic interface. It was to be called "Windows," and would be compatible with all PC software products developed on the MS-DOS system. The announcement was a bluff, in that Microsoft had no such program under development. But as a marketing tactic it was sheer genius as nearly 30 percent of the computer market was using the MS-DOS system and would wait for Windows software rather than change to a new system. Without people willing to change formats, software developers were unwilling to write programs for the VisiCorp system and it lost momentum by early 1985.
In November 1985, Bill Gates and Microsoft launched Windows; nearly two years after his announcement. Visually the Windows system looked very similar to the Macintosh system Apple Computer Corporation had introduced nearly two years earlier. Apple had earlier given Microsoft full access to their technology while it was working on making Microsoft products compatible for Apple computers. Gates had advised Apple to license their software but they ignored the advice, being more interested in selling computers. Once again, Gates took full advantage of the situation and created a software format that was strikingly similar to the Macintosh. Apple threatened to sue and Microsoft retaliated, saying it would delay shipment of its Microsoft compatible software for Macintosh users. In the end, Microsoft prevailed in the courts because it could prove that while there were similarities in how the two software systems operated, each individual function was distinctly different.
In 1986, Bill Gates took Microsoft public with an initial public offering (IPO) of $21 per share. Gates held 45 percent of the company's 24.7 million shares and became an instant millionaire at age 31. Gates's stake at that time was $234 million of Microsoft's $520 million.
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