Bill Gates



1.Preface 3

2. Bill Gates' private life 3

2.1. His youth 3

2.2. Bill's friends and partners at Microsoft 4

2.3. Bill Gates' hobbies, leisure activities and 6

his residence

2.4. A view into Bill Gates' thoughts 7

2.5. Bill's marriage 7

3. Bill Gates' career in software industry 8

3.1. Career start 8

3.2. Bill Gates' properties and wealth 8

3.3. Bill's future plans 8

3.4. Bill's problems, his rivals and foes 9

4. The Microsoft Corporation 10

4.1. The history of the Microsoft Corporation 10

4.2. Microsoft's employees 11

4.3. The company's headquarters 11

4.4. Financial situation 11

5. Bill Gates' book: "The Road Ahead" 12

5.1. Overview over the book's topics 12

5.2. Commentary and reviews 13

6. Bill Gates Annual Report to Shareholder '97 13

7. Conclusion 14

8. Appendage 15

1. Preface

The topic of this scientific work is the leading man in software industry, the Chairman, chief executive officer and founder of the world's biggest software company, the Microsoft Corporation. His name is Bill Gates. The name Bill Gates, who is 42 by now, has become a symbol for wealth, success and the American Dream. The following pages will show information about Gates' fascinating career from an ordinary student to the world's richest man, his firm's success, his book "The road ahead", and his future plans. There will also be space to present Bill Gates' friends, his family and partners, but also his foes and rivals. This work also contains personal comments and a view at Bill Gates' and Microsoft's current situation.

2. Bill Gates' private life

2.1. His youth

In the first part of my work, I want to show Bill Gates' private life from his birth on till now, as he is the richest man on earth. William H. Gates III was born on October 28, 1955 in Seattle. He and his two sisters grew up there. Their father, William H. Gates II is a Seattle attorney. Their mother, Mary Gates, was a schoolteacher, University of Washington regent and chairwoman of United Way International.[1] Gates attended public elementary school and the private Lakeside school. There is an interesting story about Bill (or "Trey"[2], as his nickname was) when he was in the sixth grade. At that time, his parents decided he needed counseling because of great problems Bill had with his mother Mary. Mary was an outgoing woman who really insisted that Bill should always do what she said. His mother and his father William decided to call a psychologist. Bill says:

"He was a really cool guy. He gave me books to read after each session, Freud stuff, and I really got into psychology theory"[3] After a year of sessions and many tests, the psychologist told Mary Gates: "You're going to lose. You had better just adjust to it because there's not trying around to beat him."[4] Mary was an intelligent woman her self, but she had to recognise that trying to compete with her son was futile. This story from Gates' youth does definitely show that Bill Gates is a very intelligent and fighting man who does not give up easily. Not only his mum, but also his competitors in the software industry would have to conclude soon that Gates is a very strong man that can't be beaten easily. But physically, Bill obviously was not strong at all. "We became concerned about him when he was ready for junior high. He was so small and shy, in need of protection, and his interests were so very different from the typical sixth graders."[5], said his father. His parents held the opinion that Bill's intellectual drive and curiosity could cause problems if he went to a big public school. They decided to send him to the Lakeside public school, which was a smaller elite school. There is another story about Bill Gates' youth that also shows that he is some kind of genius. "In ninth grade, I came up with a new form of rebellion. I hadn't been getting good grades, but I decided to get all A's without taking a book home. I didn't go to math class, because I knew enough and had read ahead, and I placed within the top 10 people in the nation on an aptitude exam. That established my independence and taught me I didn't need to rebel anymore"[6],

Gates tells the Time Magazine in an interview. In 1973, Gates entered Harvard University, which he drops out of in the year 1975 to devote all his energies to Microsoft.

2.2. Bill's friends[7] and partners at Microsoft

There are friends Gates already knows from his youth. Some of these friends helped him to build up the Microsoft Corporation, and work with him at this company now. In this part of my work, I will show who this people are and how Gates got to know them. The first man that is to mention when thinking about Gates' friends definitely is Paul Allen, who was Bill's partner when founding Microsoft in 1975. He knew Gates already from their childhood and is the responsible person for his Harvard dropout, probably the most famous university dropout in modern history. Gates and Allen started to write versions of BASIC code for the first personal computers, and distributed this programs with their recently founded company. But their partnership did not function well over the years, and they had "ferocious fights"[8] with each other, especially because of different opinions about their company's future. The conflict between Gates and Allen escalated, and, as a consequence, Paul Allen left the company and became estranged. As the company's success grew, Gates tried hard to build the good relationship they once had again and succeeded in bringing Paul Allen back to Microsoft. He is now "one of the country's biggest high-tech venture capital investors, back onto the Microsoft board"[9].

Keith Evans was Bill's best friend from 9thgrade on, but he was killed in an accident when mountain climbing, so he was not able to take part in Microsoft's success, although he was in computer programming, too.

Microsoft grew bigger in 1980 and the following years, and Gates needed someone to take care of the non-technical part which has to be managed when running a software company. He engaged Steve Ballmer, who formerly worked for Procter & Gamble in Seattle. Ballmer became Microsoft's executive vice president and managed the company's sales and support. Although the relationship between Ballmer and Gates wasn't very good sometimes, they were very successful together. Steve Ballmer's remarkable marketing skills are one of the main reasons for Microsoft's gigantic success.

The next person that is to mention when you think about Bill's friends is Nathan Myhrvold, who is now Chief Technology Officer at Gates' company. He runs Microsoft's advanced research, and sometimes he works as a chef in a French restaurant, obviously as a hobby. Gates and Myhrvold do know each other for many years, and they often spend time together in private sessions and talk about future technologies.

There's also another multibillionaire among Bill's closest friends. His name is Warren Buffet, a man who has absolutely nothing to do with the computer industry. Buffet, who is by now 67 years old, only learned how to use a computer because Gates wanted to play Bridge with him via the Internet. Gates says that Buffet is "merely the second richest American"[10], and America's richest men like to spend their vacations together. In conclusion, you can see that Bill Gates' private friends have now also become his partners in business, and can also take part in Bill Gates' success.

2.3. Bill Gates' hobbies, leisure activities and his residence

Bill Gates also has hobbies. In this part of my work, I will show you what he does in his free time. First of all, Bill loves fast cars[11]. When Microsoft's headquarter was still in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bill drove a Porsche 911 and often raced it in the desert. Once he was caught by the police when driving too fast, was arrested and Paul Allen had to pay the bail for him. Later he bought a Porsche 930 Turbo (the "rocket"), a Carrera Cabriolet 964 for $60,000, a $380,000 Porsche 959 and a Ferrari 348 that he called the "dune buggy" after an accident he had with it in the desert.[12] In terms of hobbies, Gates is collecting photos, prints and artworks. But, of course, he does not collect them like ordinary people would, but he stores them in a digital database. In 1997, he had 16 million images in his archive. He also owns the biggest company in photo-archiving industry. Its name is Corbis[13]. Bill enjoys playing golf and bridge. Bill's favourite novels are "the schoolboy standards: The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby and A Separate Peace"[14]. His favourite music is the sound of the forties and fifties, especially Frank Sinatra. The world's richest man lives in his residence in front of Lake Washington. After almost five years building-time and costs of about $60,000,000 for Gates, his house became a huge building with over 40,000 square feet of living space and garages for 30 cars. There are monitors in every room, and the residence is completely electronically monitored. There are screens in every room, and there is also a wall entirely covered by 24 40-inch monitors. As a special innovation, visitors are given an electronically coded pin which enables the residence's computer system to play the guest's favourite music and show his favourite pictures and movies on the monitors when entering certain rooms.

The outward appearance of the house must be fascinating: "Looming against the night sky are three connected pavilions of glass and recycled Douglas fir beams, looking a bit like a corporate conference center masquerading as a resort"[15]. As you can see, Gates was not avaricious when he build his house, and the result of his investment is a house which has the right size for the richest man in the world and the right technology for the leading man in software industry[16].

2.4. A view into Bill Gates' thoughts

It is also interesting to look at Bill Gates' opinion about human existence. Gates says : "I don't think there's anything unique about human intelligence. All the neurons in the brain that make up emotions operate in a binary fashion"[17]. In his opinion, the main difference between computers and humans is that humans are based on carbon while computers are based on silicon. As a consequence of this opinion, he thinks that the humans will soon be able to create artificial intelligence which does not only execute certain commands, but "thinks" itself. He also says that he is not religious, and he believes that nature and the evolution have made the humans to what they are today.

2.5. Bill's marriage

Bill was married on Jan 1, 1994 to Melinda French Gates in Hawaii. In April 1996, their first child, Jennifer Katharine Gates was born. There is a nice story to tell how Gates proposed to Melinda French. He secretly directed the chartered plane they were flying home with from Palm Springs to Omaha. His friend Warren Buffet was waiting there with the rings, and Melinda accepted Bill's proposal.

3. Bill Gates' career in software industry

3.1. Career start

William H. Gates' career in software industry started already at the age of 13 when he attended the Lakeside school[18]. In the 8thgrade, he and his pal Paul Allen produced two programs. One of them was tic-tac-toe. The two boys often repaired and reprogrammed computers that did not function properly in their free time, and earned money with their talent. "While at Harvard, Gates developed the programming language BASIC for the first microcomputer -- the MITS Altair."[19]. This was the first real success in Gates' career, and the earliest evidence for the young man's incredible ability to develop ground-breaking programs for personal computers. Starting Microsoft in 1975, Gates' triumphant advance began. The Microsoft corporation and its history can be found in an own chapter, see No.4.

3.2. Bill Gates' properties and wealth

By now Bill Gates is the world's richest man by far. As Microsoft's stock price is now at $142.25, his wealth reaches $40.160000 billion[20] (on January 27th, 1998). This number does not contain houses, aircraft, helicopters, land and other parts of his properties.

3.3.Bill's future plans

Bill Gates' first plan for the future is to refocus his company on the Internet. After Microsoft was a little late in recognizing that the future is the World Wide Web, Gates tries hard now to get involved in this trend, too. Furthermore, he is planning some kind of "Net-TV", which should enable people watching TV to get information from the Internet. He also think that a new era in communication technology and computers is coming up, and, of course, he wants the Microsoft Corporation to play an important role in it.

3.4. Bill's problems, his rivals and foes

Bill's rivals in the fight for the dominance in software market is the so-called "Stop Gates Club"[21]. These firms, named Netscape, Oracle and Sun have agreed with each other to stop Microsoft's plan "with the goal of dominating everything from word processing and spreadsheet applications to web browsers"[22]. They accuse Gates of unfair and illegal business methods. For example, Netscape began a lawsuit in which they wanted the trial to ban Microsoft's method of distributing the Internet Explorer 4.0 with their Windows 95 operating system. As close to everyone using a personal computer has Windows 95, it was almost impossible for Netscape to distribute their web browser, the Netscape Communicator, because the people already had the Microsoft web browser Internet Explorer and used it. The Stop Gates Club was successful. Last week, Microsoft agreed to offer the Windows 95 operating system without an Internet Explorer Icon. This was a great success for Gates' rivals. In my opinion, Microsoft will get more problems with its foes in the future. The greatest resistance exists against Gates' plan to play the dominant role in the Internet. When surfing the Internet, you can already find many Anti-Microsoft-pages that support Netscape's programs and use non-Microsoft operating systems. These sites often show an icon which says "Stop Gates". I think that we will soon recognize if Microsoft can keep the position as the world's leading software provider, or if the coalition of Gates' opponents can finally gain control of the market.

4. The Microsoft Corporation

4.1. History of the Microsoft Corporation[23]

Here are the important dates in the enterprises history: Microsoft was founded in 1975 as a partnership of Paul Allen and Bill Gates. In 1979, it moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Bellevue, Washington. On June 25, 1981 Microsoft incorporated. The first great success in the firms history was IBM's decision to use Microsoft's 16-bit operating system, MS-DOS 1.0 with their first personal computer which they introduced on August 12, 1981. The company moved to corporate campus in Redmond, Washington on February 26th, 1986. The firms headquarter is there to present day. March 13, 1986 is a very important date in Microsoft's financial history. This date, the Microsoft stock went public. May 22nd, 1990, Microsoft produced another program that introduced a great change in software and operating systems for personal computers. It's name was Microsoft Windows 3.0, and over 60 million copies were sold of it. The decisive difference between Microsoft's former operating systems and windows was the way you use the programs. While in DOS the only input device was the keyboard, you could now use your mouse as main controller for Windows. Most application providers developed programs for Windows now, and with the release of Windows 95 on August 24th, 1995, Microsoft's windows operating systems had finally become the standard operating system for PCs. Almost three years after its release, Windows 95 is still the most often used OS by far, IBM's OS/2, Linux, Novell DOS and even Microsoft's own DOS have been pushed out of the market. Of course, Windows 95 is a great platform for Microsoft to sell their own applications, like Microsoft Office 97. The last important date in the history of the enterprise is Bill Gates announcement on December 7, 1995. "Gates outlines the company's commitment to supporting and enhancing the Internet by integrating the PC platform with the public network"[24]. Microsoft is working on a new OS at the moment, which is called Windows 98 and should be finished and released this year.

4.2. Microsoft's employees[25]

Bill Gates' firm has 22,276 employees world-wide. 8,799 work in the division research & development, 10,337 deal with sales and support, 3,140 people work in the operations division (Date 7/1/97)[26]. The average age of the typical MS employee is 33.9 years, so you can say that most of these people are very young. Microsoft has offices in 54 countries. The key management are the following men: Of course Bill Gates as CEO and Steve Ballmer as executive vice president and sales & support manager. Bob Herold is the company's executive vice president and chief operating officer. Further members of the firm's executive board are Paul Maritz, Pete Higgins, Jeff Raikes, Brad Silverber, Jim Allchim and the already mentioned Nathan Mhyrvold as chief technology officer. The software these people produce can be obtained in more than 30 languages and is sold in over 50 countries.

4.3. The company's headquarters

"Corporate headquarters are located at: One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052-6399"[27]. It's kind of a "campus, a cluster of 35 low-rise buildings, set among lawns, groves of white pines and shady courtyards that make the place resemble like a college"[28]. But this "college", as it might look, is a modern office complex, connected to many other offices around the globe and the home of the world biggest software distributor.

Of course, Bill Gates' firm also has other offices in the USA, for example the West Coast Distribution Center in Bothell, Washington or the Eastern Distribution Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.

4.4. Financial Situation

In the fiscal year that ended June 97, Microsoft had a "Net revenue of $11,360,000,000, Net income of $3,450,000,000"[29]. This is a huge growth in comparison to the fiscal year that ended June 1996, in which Microsoft's net revenue was $8,670,000,000 and their net income was $2,200,000,000. There is also a table in the appendage that shows the company's financial situation. The firms stock price today (January 27th, 1998) is $142.25, and recently Microsoft announced a stock split for this year. In the last two years, Bill Gates' and his firms just "bought" many other enterprises in software industry, for example LinkAge Software, Cooper & Peters, Dimension X, Web TV Networks or Interse in 1997, or Netcarta, Macintosh Web Server Technology, OLAP, Electric Gravity Inc. and many more in 1996. It is obvious that Microsoft is heading for a monopoly in software business. There are also many other enterprises that Microsoft invested in the last years, but they will not be mentioned here in detail.

5. Bill Gates' book: The Road Ahead

5.1. Overview over the book's topics

The first topics Bill mentions in "The Road Ahead" are the "falling price of computing"[30] and linked with this topic, the technological revolution and the "evolving role of information in our lives, including a short history of computing"[31]. These are the first two chapters. Chapter 3 deals with the computer industry, especially with the relationship between Microsoft and IBM, chapter 4 with the future of hardware and the importance of software. Chapters 5 to 8 of Bill's book have the Internet as a central issue. Bill Gates writes about E-mail, bulletin boards, web sites and his vision of interactive television as well as the reform of documents which will be distributed in electronic forms in the future. He also shows his thoughts about business in the Internet with

"videoconferencing, long-distance collaboration, evolving expectations, and the implications of networking for the future of jobs, companies and cities"[32]. Furthermore, Gates mentions the effects that modern technology will have on the educational system, the people's leisure activities and the society in general. At the end of the book, Gates expresses his positive opinion about the future, and mentions his concerns that someday, because of the improve in computer technology, "really intelligent computers could rival humans"[33] or become a dangerous weapon in the hands of terrorists.

5.2. Commentary and reviews on The Road Ahead

"The Road Ahead" was very successful, as you can see from the New York Times best-seller list which it topped for seven weeks. The critics liked Gates' book very much. Here are some quotations how "The Road Ahead" was seen by important critics:

"The Road Ahead does a remarkably good job of explaining the fundamentals of the computer revolution to people who remain hazy about what has really happened."[34]

"Even David Letterman boasted to Mr. Gates of how little he knows about computers. If he and the millions of Americans like him were to actually read The Road Ahead, they would discover that digital ignorance offers no protection from a future that will arrive whether we want it or not."[35]

"Those who read this book will gain valuable insights and perhaps a strategy or two that will help them chart their own 'Road Ahead'."[36]

"Since the mid-1970s, no one had a clearer pictures of how computing would evolve than Mr. Gates. Luckily, he sees a wondrous trip for us on the information highway."[37]

Obviously, Bill Gates' book created a very positive impression with the critics.

6. Bill Gates annual report to shareholders '97

In his letter to the shareholders, Bill Gates again writes about Microsoft's future. The first plan he presents to the shareholders is the NetPC, a simple PC configuration that should enable users with old and slow PCs to run new programs from a powerful server. He also writes about new "handheld devices" and "wallet PCs"[38] Microsoft is developing an operating system for, the so-called Windows CE. The main topic in Bill's letter to the shareholders is the connection between PCs and the link between PCs and TVs. Gates' think that this will provide "complementary sources of information and entertainment in the home."[39] He also promises that the new Microsoft operating system, Windows 98 and Windows NT 5.0 are soon to come and that they "will do more to make PCs connected"[40]. At the end of his letter, Gates writes: "Our business is one of risks and challenges and great potential rewards"[41] and finally thanks the shareholders for their trust in the Microsoft Corporation.

7. Conclusion

In conclusion, I want to mention that Bill Gates definitely is one of the most fascinating men in today's business world. Not only for his success or his money, but for the fact that he was a pioneer of the technological revolution, he is to be admired. In my opinion, I think that Gates will be remembered in some years just about people like James Watt or Thomas Edison are known now.



A picture of Bill Gates, CEO Microsoft Corporation[42]

Bill Gates meets the Japanese Prime Minister.[43]

The logos of the companies who want to stop Gates (Apple, Netscape, Navio and Sun Microsystems).[44]

The cover of time magazine,

including the title story about Bill Gates written by Walter Isaacson.[45]

Bill's Signature


The only source used in this scientific work were the following Internet web sites:

The sites gates1-12 refer to a time magazine article, written by Walter Isaacson and published on January 13th, 1997.

The other sites do not have a specific author.


Ich erkläre hiermit, dass ich die Facharbeit ohne fremde Hilfe angefertigt und nur die im Literaturverzeichnis angeführten Quellen und Hilfsmittel benutzt habe.

, den

Th. Thalhofer




[4] http.// (Walter Isaacson)

[5] (Walter Isaacson)

[6] (Walter Isaacson)




[10] http: //





[15] (Walter Isaacson)














[29] http:/





[34] James Fallows, The New York Review of Books;

[35] Frank Rich, The New York Times;

[36] The Washington Times;

[37] The Wall Street Journal;

[38] Bill Gates: Annual Report to shareholders;

[39] Bill Gates: Annual Report to shareholders;

[40] Bill Gates: Annual Report to shareholders;

[41] Bill Gates: Annual Report to shareholders;

[42] Source:

[43] Source:

[44] Source:


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