5 Things You Might Not Know About Bill Gates: Did He Really Start His First Company At Age 15?

5 Things You Might Not Know About Bill Gates: Did He Really Start His First Company At Age 15?

Bill Gates is well-known as the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation MSFT. The entrepreneur is also a huge philanthropist creating the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 to help spread technology and medical advancements around the world and reduce poverty.

Here are five things you might not know about Bill Gates.

1. First Company At Age 15: While at Lakeside School, Gates became good friends with Paul Allen, his future Microsoft co-founder. The two spent much of their free time together despite strong disagreements and clashes. At 15, Gates along with Allen created “Traf O Data,” a computer program that monitored traffic patterns in Seattle. The pair collected $20,000 for their efforts and continued to work together.

2. Magazine Started It All: Allen showed Gates an article on the Altair 8800 mini-computer kit in Popular Electronics magazine. That article led to the two contacting the company and developing software. The two were hired by MITS and founded Microsoft after demoing their work and creating products for MITS. Microsoft’s name was a combination of the words “micro-computer” and “software.” The first Microsoft product was BASIC software for the Altair computer.

Related Link: Bill And Melinda Gates Divorcing After 27 Years Of Marriage

3. Richest Man For Many Years: Creating a company like Microsoft helped Gates build great wealth along the way. In 1986, Microsoft completed its initial price offering for $21 making Gates a millionaire with 45% ownership of the company. By 1987, Gates was a billionaire after shares split several times and hit new highs of $90.75. From 1993 to 2007, Gates sat atop the Forbes Richest People in the World list before being beaten out by Warren Buffett in 2008. Gates topped the list 18 total times. In 2022, Gates is now ranked fifth on the list with a wealth of $105 billion. 

4. Monopoly Accusations: As a kid one of Gates's favorite games to play was Monopoly. Ironically, Gates spent part of the 1990s defending Microsoft from monopolistic business accusations from the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department. Many of the accusations came from Microsoft having deals with computer manufacturers to have Microsoft items pre-installed and only run compatible with those programs. Microsoft was almost broken up into two companies, one covering operating systems and one covering software. Microsoft settled to avoid a breakup.

5. Mother on Board of Directors: Gates’ mother Mary became a role model in the world of business for the Microsoft co-founder and may have helped pave the way with a future collaborator. In 1975, Mary Gates became the first woman president of the United Way in King Country and the first woman director of the First Interstate Bank in Seattle. Gates also served on the United Way Executive Committee with International Business Machine’s IBM President John Opel. The connection helped get Gates a connection with IBM who would play an important role in Microsoft’s rise.

Photo by Kuhlmann/MSC via Wikimedia.

Original publication: 2021-05-04

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