A life story of the richest man in the world – Bill Gates.
William Henry (Bill) Gates (born October 28, 1955 in Seattle, Washington) is an American entrepreneur and the co-founder, chairman, former chief software architect, and former chief executive officer of Microsoft, the world’s largest software company. Forbes magazine’s The World’s Billionaires list has ranked him as the richest person on earth for the last thirteen consecutive years, with a current net worth of approximately $53 billion.
Gates and his pal Paul Allen produced two programs in the 8th grade: one played tic-tac-toe. Before long, they were moonlighting as adolescent computer consultants for a local corporation. In high school, Gates and his friends devised a program that analyzed traffic data for his hometown.
Windows Takes Over
Soon after Gates unveiled his Windows 3.0 program in 1990, the applications software industry was crying uncle. Over 60 million copies of the Windows progam were sold, which established Microsoft’s operating system as the PC software standard and left companies like Lotus and WordPerfect scrambling because they had been creating applications for IBM’s system, the OS/2. Six years after the Windows launch, Microsoft dominates the word processing and spreadsheet market.
Corporation as Cult
The suburban Microsoft “campus,” a cluster of 35 low-rise buildings, is set among lawns, groves of white pines and shady courtyards that make the place resemble a college. But in contrast to the sedate intellectualism of the average college, Microsoft rewards the brusque “math camp” mentality: a lot of cocky geeks willing to wave their fingers and yell with the cute conviction that all problems have a right answer. Among Gates’ favorite phrases is “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” and victims wear it as a badge of honor, bragging about it the way they do about getting a late-night E-mail from him.
Built into a bluff fronting Lake Washington, the home Gates has been working on for more than four years has 40,000 square feet of living space and a vaulted 30-car garage. One of his favorite features: two dozen 40-in. monitors will form a flat-screen display covering an entire wall. As visitors pass into each room, wearing an electronically -coded pin, music they like will begin to play.
Estimated Price Tag: $40 million
Go Car Go!
When Microsoft was based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in its early years, Gates bought a Porsche 911 and used to race it in the desert; Paul Allen had to bail him out of jail after one midnight escapade. Later, he bought a Porsche 930 Turbo he called the “rocket,” then a Mercedes, a Jaguar XJ6, a $60,000 Carrera Cabriolet 964, a $380,000 Porsche 959 that ended up impounded in a customs shed because it couldn’t meet import emission standards, and a Ferrari 348 that became known as the “dune buggy” after he spun it into the sand.
The prestigious 16 million-image Bettman Archive is just the start of Gates’ growing database of photos, prints and famous artworks. As the biggest player in the photo-archiving industry, Gates’ company Corbis supplies pictures to books, magazines and websites — including the illustration at the upper left corner of this webpage.
“I don’t think there’s anything unique about human intelligence. All the neurons in the brain that make up perceptions and emotions operate in a binary fashion.” Earthly life is carbon-based, he notes, while computers are silicon-based, but he doesn’t see that as a critical distinction. “Eventually we’ll be able to sequence the human genome and replicate how nature did intelligence in a carbon-based system.”
“Analytically, I would say nature has done a good job making child-raising more pleasure than pain, since that is necessary for a species to survive. But the experience goes beyond analytic description. Evolution is many orders of magnitude ahead of mankind today in creating a complex system. I don’t think it’s irreconcilable to say we will understand the human mind some day and explain it in software-like terms, and also to say it is a creation that shouldn’t be compared to software. Religion has come around to the view that even things that can be explained scientifically can have an underlying purpose that goes beyond the science. Even though I am not religious, the amazement and wonder I have about the human mind is closer to religious awe than dispassionate analysis.”
Beware of Success
The Road Ahead: “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose. And it’s an unreliable guide to the future. What seems the perfect business plan or latest technology today may soon be as out-of-date as the eight-track tape player, the vacuum-tube television, or the mainframe computer.”