Tech’s Most Powerful: Bill Gates

A young teenager in high school, who is ashamed to talk to girls, decides with the help of a friend of his age to manipulate and hack his school’s schedules, to put his name on the attendance schedule in a class full of girls, to become the only student among a group of teenage girls, perhaps increasing his chances of getting a date with one of them.

In the late 1960s, when he was a seventh grader at Lakeside Boarding School in Seattle, a number of faculty members decided to get a computer platform inside the school. Of course, computers were something completely new to everyone, devices that seemed very scary to some people at the time, but they ignited a love within the same naughty student, to start his way from a young age with a friend of his age in research, programming and trying to understand those complex devices!

This student is the gentleman, who wears the glasses, we now know him as Bill Gates, with his close friend Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft.

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An old friendship…failed…then the search for the seeds of success

Bill Gates met his friend Paul Allen at Lakeside School in Seattle, when Gates was in the eighth grade and Allen was in the tenth grade. They bonded together with a passion for computer programming, and in school the two learned how to dissect code.

One summer during high school, Bill Gates worked for a company that measures traffic flow patterns by calculating the wheels of cars that walk over pressure-sensitive rubber tubes. Every 15 minutes, the machine would draw a pattern of holes on a piece of paper tape, then read that tape by hand and write down its results, the process was monotonous, inefficient and bothersome to the eye.

It was then that Gates and Allen felt the process could be done more efficiently and at lower cost, an idea that soon developed into their first ever business: a small business they called Traf-o-Data. At the time, Gates was 17 and Allen was 19. It was then that Gates began hiring younger students in the school to work at reading paper tapes and then copying the tape data onto computer cards.

The two then used a computer at the University of Washington library, where Allen’s father worked, to create “easy-to-read” data charts of hourly traffic flows. Then a third partner joined the company, built a machine to automate reading those tapes, and they later raised $360 to buy a special 8008 processor chip for what became known as the Traf-o-Data machine.

With Traf-o-Data, these teens made it a lot easier for the Washington State Road Department to analyze traffic data. Then Traf-O-Data expanded further, charging $2 a day to collect data for customers, including in small counties near Seattle. The company ran for years, surviving after the two dropped out of high school and college and even after they founded Microsoft. But, once the company’s business began to boom, Washington and other states began offering the same service for free.

By that time, the two were busy running another company in Seattle, Microsoft. They were paid nearly $20,000 for their Traf-o-Data business, but the data-collection project ultimately failed.

Although Traf-O-Data failed, it was a necessary failure to prepare them for Microsoft’s first product a few years later; While that experience represented a commercial failure, it helped them understand microprocessors, and that knowledge was crucial to their future success.

That failed experiment sowed the seeds of their success in the tech world, as Paul Allen said, “In my experience, every failure has the seeds of your next success, if you are willing to learn from it.” And then Gates and Allen knew that their future wasn’t in devices or traffic tapes, and they had to look and find something else!

Flying Eagle… and the beginning of the Microsoft story

The Flying Eagle Altair is a star located in the constellation Aquila, and forms the head of the eagle. It was so named because, along with the two neighboring stars, it forms an eagle that spreads its wings, and it can be seen from the northern hemisphere and is the brightest of its stars.

Edward Roberts, a former US Air Force officer who headed up a small company in New Mexico called MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems), decided to launch a small computer platform, based on the Intel 8080 processor chip, which it launched in April 1974.

MITS has built an affordable minicomputer based on that chip from Intel, and the daughter of Edward Roberts chose the name of the new machine, Altair, after the famous star of the same name.

This device fulfilled the social and technical requirements of a small personal computer, and that small company (MITS) succeeded where other more established companies failed, and it was their hardware that ushered in the era of the personal computer. It was the first mass-produced mini-computer, and in January 1975 the Altair was featured on the cover of Popular Electronics. Hence our story with Microsoft began!

When the opportunity came

Although Bill Gates loved computer programming and was willing to continue his pursuit of it, perhaps due to his father’s influence, he entered Harvard University in the fall of 1973. By his own admission, he was there with only his body, but his soul hovering elsewhere. He would rather spend his time playing poker and video games than attending boring lectures.

But that all changed in January of 1975, when Allen showed Gates an article in Popular Electronics about the world’s first microcomputer, a device called the Altair 8800. It was the opportunity the two friends had been waiting for, so Gates and Allen contacted the president of the manufacturer. Edward Roberts, and they told him they had written a software version, in the famous BASIC programming language, for the Altair.

Edward asked them to see that copy, but neither Gates nor Allen had actually written anything yet, but they called to see how much the company was interested in what they were offering. Then he began working day and night in the Harvard computer lab, and with no Altair to work on, the two simulated it on other computers.

Allen traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to test the program on the Altair, and neither he nor Gates was sure it would work, but surprisingly the program worked on the device. Gates decided to leave Harvard University, and moved with Allen to New Mexico, where they formally founded Micro-Soft, a combination of “micro-computer” and “software”, in April of 1975. A year later, they shot down the police and fired It has the current name Microsoft.

MITS collapsed shortly thereafter, but Gates and Allen were already writing several programs for other computer startups, including Apple, Commodore and Tandy Corp.

Brilliant deal with IBM

In 1979, the two moved the company to Seattle, where Microsoft was a huge success. When Gates learned that the famous IBM was having trouble getting an operating system for its new computer, he purchased an existing operating system from a small company in Seattle for $50,000, and developed it into MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System), He then licensed this system on behalf of IBM.

The genius of the IBM deal, of which Gates was mastermind, was that while IBM acquired MS-DOS, Microsoft reserved the right to license the operating system to other computer makers.

And what Bill Gates had predicted happened. After the release of IBM’s first computers, other companies such as Compaq began producing computers compatible with the system, and soon the market was flooded with hardware copies. Like IBM, instead of producing their own operating systems, other manufacturers decided it was cheaper to buy MS-DOS. As a result, it became the standard operating system for the computer hardware industry, and Microsoft’s sales rose from $7.5 million in 1980 to $16 million in 1981.

Feeling threatened… Windows launched… Market domination

Microsoft expanded into application software, and the company’s growth continued unabated until 1984, when Apple introduced the first Macintosh computer. The Macintosh’s neat graphical user interface (GUI) was much easier to use than MS-DOS, and threatened to turn Microsoft’s program into the trash. In response to this threat, Gates announced that Microsoft is developing its own GUI-based operating system called “Windows”.

When Windows was finally released in 1985, it did not achieve the expected achievement or victory that Gates had predicted at the time. Most of the problems were remember that the first version was slow and heavy. Apple was also not happy with this new system. It saw Windows as a theft of its Macintosh operating system, and the company sued Microsoft, and the case continued until the mid-1990s, when the courts finally decided that Apple’s lawsuit had no cause. Basis.

During those years, Bill Gates worked to improve and develop Windows. Later versions of the operating system run faster and crash less. Third-party programmers began developing software based on the new operating system, and Microsoft’s own applications became bestsellers. By 1993, Windows was selling at a rate of one million copies per month, and it was estimated that it was running on approximately 85% of the world’s computers at the time.

Microsoft also consolidated its dominance of the industry in the mid-1990s by combining Windows and its other applications into “suites”, as well as persuading major computer manufacturers to preload the company’s software on every computer sold. That strategy paid off so impressively that by 1999 Microsoft was generating $19.7 billion in sales, and Gates’ personal fortune had grown to $90 billion.

Fierce competitive spirit and monopoly issues

With all the success and control of Microsoft under his leadership, Gates never felt secure; He had always looked at competition over his shoulder, and had developed a fierce competitive spirit. Once his assistant reported that she had arrived at work early, to be surprised by someone sleeping under the desk, and then she thought about calling security or the police until she found out that that person was Bill Gates himself.

Bill Gates’ intelligence allowed him to see all aspects of the software industry, from product development to corporate strategy. And when analyzing a company’s move, he would develop a profile of all potential cases, meticulously review them, and ask questions about anything that might happen.

While outside the company, Bill Gates was gaining a reputation as a ruthless competitor. Several technology companies, led by IBM, began developing their own operating system, which they called OS/2, to replace MS-DOS. But rather than succumb to pressure, Gates went ahead with the Windows operating system, developing it and expanding its uses.

In 1989, Microsoft introduced the famous office work package “Office”, which combined office productivity applications such as Word and Excel in one system compatible with all the company’s products.

Applications were not easily compatible with OS/2, the new Windows version sold over 100,000 copies in just two weeks, and OS/2 quickly faded away. This left Microsoft with a virtual monopoly on PC operating systems. Soon, the Federal Trade Commission began investigating the company for unfair market practices.

During the 1990s, Microsoft faced a series of FTC and Justice Department investigations. Some allegations were that the company made unfair deals with PC manufacturers who installed the Windows operating system on their devices. While other accusations included Microsoft forcing computer manufacturers to sell its Internet Explorer browser as a condition of selling the Windows operating system for their own devices.

But through it all, Gates found creative ways to decompress, with hilarious commercials and public appearances at computer trade fairs, and Gates went on to run the company and bypass the federal investigation during the 1990s.

Goodbye Microsoft

In 2000, Bill Gates resigned from leadership of Microsoft’s day-to-day operations and took over as CEO, college friend Steve Ballmer, who had been with the company since 1980. Gates took over as chief software engineer, so he could focus on what was most important to him. Enthusiasm at work, although he remained Chairman of the Board of Directors.

In 2006, Gates announced that he would begin to leave full-time work at Microsoft, and his last full day at the company was June 27, 2008. In February 2014, Gates stepped down as president of Microsoft in order to move to a new position as a technical advisor. Satya Nadella replaced Steve Ballmer as CEO. Currently, Bill Gates focuses on philanthropy through his charitable foundation, “Bill and Melinda Gates”, which he heads with his wife.

In an attempt to explain his phenomenal success, industry experts have pointed out that there is two Bill Gates. One of them is a skilled computer expert. The other is a hardcore entrepreneur who, unlike most of his fellow Silicon Valley stars, is an easy-goer and has an innate instinct to market. Perhaps this combination enabled Gates to see what his competitors could not; While they were only focused on selling software, Gates was focused on setting standards, first with MS-DOS and later with Windows. Those standards have shaped the modern computer industry, and will probably continue to influence its growth for years and years to come.


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