Even as a teenager, Bill Gates realized how computers would one day change the world. With this vision he founded Microsoft and became the richest man in the world. Now he spends most of his money on charities – and is still under attack.
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Microsoft founder Bill Gates actually didn’t have time for a vacation in the fall of 1993. The development of the revolutionary new operating system Windows 95 was in full swing and demanded all our attention. However, Gates had a valid private reason at the time: He was newly engaged. The couple wanted to celebrate with friends on a safari tour in East Africa. But this journey should open their eyes to completely different challenges for Gates and his partner Melinda.
This trip was ‘eye-opening’ and ‘heartbreaking’
“Our time in East Africa was our first real encounter with extreme poverty,” Melinda Gates recalls in a blog post 25 years later. “It was both eye-opening and heartbreaking.” Before the couple flew back to the United States, the two took a long walk on a beach in Zanzibar. “We had the conversation that would eventually change our lives.” They had previously agreed to give away most of the assets acquired with Microsoft. ‘But we weren’t sure how to do it. Now we had an idea of the purpose – and the urgency. ‘
Shortly after traveling to East Africa, the software entrepreneur founded the William H. Gates Foundation, which was initially led by his father and became the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation six years later. Since traveling to India in 1994, he has been promoting polio vaccinations to eradicate polio.
The Gates Foundation focuses on three areas. In the health sector, it promotes the research and development of medicines and vaccines and their dissemination. To combat hunger in the world, the foundation also provides agriculture. She wants to research productive crops and support farmers, especially in Africa. The foundation is also involved in youth education programs in the US.
Gates showed a passion for mathematics as a child
Gates was born on October 28, 1955, to a schoolteacher and wealthy lawyer. In elementary school, he particularly impressed his math and science teachers. In eighth grade, he gained access to an ASR-33 teletypewriter that allowed General Electric students to use computer time. There he wrote the first BASIC programs.
From the adolescent’s enthusiasm for technology, Bill Gates developed a passion and tenacity that would shape his life. Aside from him, probably only Apple co-founder Steve Jobs believed in it so early and worked with such determination that computers could one day be used by anyone. Few people could imagine that in the early 1970s.
In 1975 Gates left Harvard to build Microsoft with his friend Paul Allen. In these early days of the I.T industry he developed the concept “A computer on every desk and in every home” (a computer on every desk and in every household).
With negotiating skills, Gates managed to gain advantages
He was also lucky in implementing his vision: it was more or less coincidental that in 1980 he was commissioned by IBM to supply an operating system for the first personal computer. At the time, he didn’t even have this software but had to get it from a friend quickly. With the deal, Gates not only showed technical foresight, but also that he could negotiate smartly. He denied his contract partners at IBM the right to allow Microsoft to sell the system to other PC manufacturers.
With the DOS operating system, Gates not only laid the foundation for Microsoft’s outstanding success and his personal fortune, but also founded the software industry. With the Office program package Office and the Windows operating system, Microsoft pushed personal computing further. The company grew into an oversized software empire, and Gates later became the richest person in the world thanks to his Microsoft stock.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates introduces the Windows 95 operating system to the public. (Source: dpa)
In the “browser war” the group uses its leadership position
During his active time at Microsoft’s helm, Gates did not shy away from expanding his company’s market power with pointed elbows. In 1995, he started the “browser war” against Netscape after Microsoft initially overslept on the importance of the Internet in the early 1990s. Netscape was pushed out of the market with the tightly bundled package of Windows and Internet Explorer. Then US Attorney General Janet Reno complained, “Microsoft is illegally using its monopoly to defend and extend its one rule.”
During this time, the slogan “Don’t give gates a chance” first appeared among Microsoft critics – based on a campaign by the Federal Center for Health Education in the 1980s (“Don’t give AIDS a chance”). The slogan is now being used against vaccine opponents and conspiracy storytellers to belittle the main donor.
Microsoft almost got smashed
After the turn of the millennium, Gates decided to gradually withdraw from Microsoft. In January 2000, he resigned as CEO to focus on the role of “Chief Software Architect”. But often the meetings were not about software projects, but about antitrust legislation: then Microsoft narrowly escaped the threat of falling apart.
In July 2008, Gates left Microsoft’s day-to-day business for good to dedicate himself to charity. In 2014 he relinquished the position of chairman (chairman of the Supervisory Board). In this role, he was behind his successor Steve Ballmer for years.
With the expiration of terms at Microsoft, Gates worked deeper and deeper into the specialist topics of his foundation and quickly became a respected expert on vaccination campaigns. And he spent money on charity on a large scale. The stated goal of the foundation is to use up all funds 20 years after the death of Bill and Melinda Gates. In 2018, the foundation had net worth of nearly $ 47 billion.
Gates is no longer the richest man in the world
His dedication was quickly recognized: in 2005, the British Queen Elizabeth II knighted him, and Time Magazine named him “Person of the Year” along with his wife Melinda and Irish singer Bono from U2. In 2008, after 13 years at the top of the Forbes list, he lost the top spot as the richest person in the world. Although Gates has now put billions of dollars into his foundation, he is currently still number 3 on the Forbes list – also because Microsoft stock has grown rapidly in value over the years.
When it comes to managing the foundation’s assets, Gates acts like a tough entrepreneur, which has caused him repeated criticism. The foundation also invested in controversial companies such as Exxon and BP. Rumors that the foundation makes money by handing out vaccines are not true. It is also wrong to say that Bill Gates said vaccination is “the best way to reduce the population.”
The world is waiting for the corona vaccine
The defamation did not stop Gates from advocating for the rapid development of a safe and effective vaccine against Covid-19. He is also not overly impressed by the fact that radical opponents of vaccination are spreading the rumor that the corona pandemic is just the cover for a plan to implant traceable microchips and that he wants to take personal advantage of it.
Gates recently wrote in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”: “If there is a vaccination against the virus, governments can override spatial distance measures. We will no longer have to wear masks. The world economy will get going again.” However, this development does not necessarily take place. “To get there, the world first needs three things: the ability to produce billions of doses of vaccines, the financial resources to pay for them, and systems to distribute them.” Gates pays part of the bill out of pocket.