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The Sultan of Software: Bill Gates

Some say he is unpopular, but I say he is prevalent. Some say he is ruthless, and I say he is charming. Many people say he is competitive, I say he is generously determined. Bill Gates is one of the world’s most misunderstood leaders. Becoming the Sultan of Software was not easy. He had to be determined to prevail and be ruthlessly honest. He is very competitive and smart. His gift to us as king is the evolution of technology and providing outstanding software for a great value. His sacrifices for us include being accused of pirating and monopolizing the software industry. He demonstrates the sacrifices that leaders must over come to make a difference. Bill Gates is a worldwide leader and key figure in the computer revolution from the 1980’s to present day. He is considered more of an inventor than a businessperson. This co-founder and chairperson of Microsoft Software Company has provided the world with the services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. Born October 28, 1955 placed Bill Gates in the right era to join the early to present computer age. He was able to get involved with computers as they began to change the way we live. Gates is honored by many and has been given the title Sultan of Software because he is known as the King of Software. His efforts and success with the development of software makes it very apparent that he is a significant leader of the computer revolution. He was such a leader that Queen Elizabeth II made Bill Gates an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She even asked that entomologists name the Bill Gates Flower Fly, Eristalis gatesi, in his honor. Gates has also received three honorary doctorates, from the Nyenrode Business Universiteit, Breukelin, Netherlands in 2000, The Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm Sweden in 2002, and Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan in 2005. Bill Gates is a noteworthy person in our society who has had an interesting early life, a remarkable career and adult life, and has been recognized for his accomplishments.

Bill Gates had an interesting early life. He was fortunate to be born into a close-knit, charming, wealthy, well-educated, competitive family, with excellent values but he still had obstacles as a child. William Henry Gates III, known as Bill Gates, was born to William and Mary Gates on October 28, 1955 in Seattle, Washington. His great grandfather J.W. Maxwell made the first National Bank of Washington. His mother, Mary Maxwell Gates was a very charming, determined, and generous teacher. She also participated in various community organizations. His father, William Henry Gates Sr., was a quiet, scholarly, and well-known attorney. Bill’s two sisters were Kristy and Libby Gates. Gates’ parents raised their children to be thinkers, curious, and determined. Mr. and Mrs. Gates raised Bill to “think smart.” Bill seemed to always be thinking. He preferred the term “super smart” to genius. He was very interested in books. Although he was small, skinny and was perceived as being immature for his age, he exceeded his peers and was bored with school. He often felt uncomfortable around other people and was annoyed by anyone less intelligent than he was. He also faced the challenge of not being able to shut off his brain and ended up working all hours of the night with minimal sleep. He developed a talent for math and science. This geek was often times rebellious, shrill, arrogant, and confrontational. He began to show signs of rebellion in his pre-teen years and was often at odds with his mother.

Gates attended public elementary school and then the private Lakeside School where he discovered his interests in software and began programming computers at the age of thirteen. Lakeside had an ASR-33 teletype machine, which connected to a PDP-10 General Electric computer. Computer time was very expensive so Gates fixed bugs\computer software errors in the computer in exchange for free computer time. Obtaining this goal is how he met his long time friend and business collaborate Paul Allen.

Gates and Allen spent hours reading BASIC computer language for the computer. They also learned FORTRAN, LISP, AND PDP-10 machine language along with the operating system code. The first program Gates and Allen programmed was simple math problems; the second program was the computer game tic-tac-toe. By their senior year, Gates and Allen created their first company Traf-O-Data, which gave information about traffic patterns. Although this first business was not successful, it was a good learning experience. A company named TRW hired them to help analyze data from electrical generators located in dams.

From this experience, Gates learned that fewer people can work more efficiently and could do the same job faster than larger groups of people. He also learned he wanted to own a small business rather than work for a large corporation.

Gates has had a remarkable career and adult life. Originally, he thought his interest was to pursue a career in either law or math. He found his two loves however by creating software and finding his soul mate.

In the fall of 1973, Gates enrolled in Harvard University to study mathematics or law. By December 1974, he had decided his interests did not lie with math or law, but with computer software. One day, Allen and Gates were looking through the December 1974 issue of Popular Electronics when they came across an article that advertised the Altair 8800. It was called the “The worlds first micro-computer kit.” Almost anyone could build this cheap computer at home. Their vision that every business and household could have a computer was becoming a reality. This was the development that Gates and Allen had been preparing themselves for since 1968.

Gates and Allen knew that without software the Altair 8800 was nothing but an empty shell. They contacted MITS and told company officials they had software a program (a version of BASIC) that would make the Altair 8800 run. This was a bluff, they had not written the software program yet. As soon as Gates and Allen were given the green light, they began working feverishly to create the version of BASIC they had promised MITS.

They needed a company so they could license the product. They named it Microsoft.

In five weeks, they made the software for the Altair 8800. Even though the program had bugs, it was still successful. They contracted it to MITS. Bill named it MS-BASIC and called it “The Coolest Code I Ever Wrote.” Because Bill Gates was so proficient at writing contracts, he got royalty fees, which gave Microsoft some of the profit from each Altair sold.

Microsoft soon licensed the MS-BASIC to other companies. When a larger company bought out MITS, Gates had to sue to keep the software that Microsoft had produced and Microsoft won.

In 1978, Microsoft moved to Bellevue, Washington, near Seattle so Gates could be near his family. His mother Mary happened to be serving on the Board of United Way along with the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of IBM, another computer company. Bill’s mother helped him get in contact with the CEO of IBM. IBM asked Microsoft to create software for the new IBM PC. From the start, IBM did not take Microsoft seriously.

First, Microsoft went and bought 86-DOS (Disk Operating System) modified and renamed it MS-DOS. The MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System) was released with all new IBM PC’s. Bill Gates had IBM sign a contract saying that he would receive a portion of the profits that each IBM PC made. Since IBM had used off-the-shelves items, other companies were able to clone the computer. However, they needed the software to run the computer so Bill was right there, offering MS-DOS and other products.

Royalties began pouring in from PC makers everywhere. By the end of 1982, Microsoft had sold over 32 million dollars in software. In 1981 Microsoft began designing its own GUI [(pronounced gooey) (Graphical User Interface)] after Apple showed Microsoft the still top-secret Macintosh. While working with Apple, Gates suggested that they license their software. Apple Computers was solely interested in producing hardware products so they did not copyright the software.

Later, Gates designed his own computer program based on their software. This is not considered stealing because the software was not copy written. Besides, Bill did warn Apple. By the fall of 1982, GUI’s became Bill’s top priority. Bill set the deadline for Windows as April 1984.

In early 1983, a demo was ready. It showed overlapping windows apparently running software. In fact, none of them did anything; it was an illusion. When it came to Comdex, the computer industry’s major annual trade show, Windows and Gates took over. Taxies had Windows ads, even rental-car agencies handed out windows key chains. Every hotel room had a windows plastic bag slipped under its door. The publicity caused computer journalist Esther Dyson to comment wryly, “Microsoft is running for president.”

As the release date, approached problems kept coming up. The deadline was pushed back several times. Soon the press began to call Windows vaporware, a promised product that never appears. Bill even became known as the viscount of vapor. In the fall of 1985 over a year and a half after its first promised due date windows 1.0 finally shipped.

As of today, there are ten versions of Windows. The latest version, Windows 8, came out October 2012. In the mist of Windows the development (In 1990), the Federal Trade Commission began to investigate Microsoft because of reports of monopolization, which is against U.S. law. A monopoly is when one company dominates the entire market. As earlier mentioned, Microsoft had a contract with IBM that with every computer IBM sold a portion of the profit would go to Microsoft because Microsoft had given IBM their MS-DOS software. The problem was that not all computers ran MS-DOS software but were included as part of the same contract. IBM signed the contract anyway. Soon other companies began cloning the PC, Microsoft and Bill made the same contract with other companies. They all signed.

When royalties began to pour in, the Federal Trade Commission began to investigate Microsoft for monopolizing. This can be considered a good thing because it saved companies millions in research for software to use with the PC. It kept other companies from competing, because they had software already provided at a lower cost than they could produce it them selves thus, creating a monopoly. The funny thing is that Gates primary objective was not to create a monopoly.

He was merely trying to protect his company from other companies stealing his product/ program. The FTC could not come up with good information so in 1994 the FTC handed the case over to the U.S. Department of Justice. In the summer of 1995 the case was dropped. In return, Microsoft would make minor changes in its business arrangements. Gates began to evolve.

After finding success with Microsoft and meeting his soul mate, Melinda French, he finally evolved and calmed down to be a down-to-earth family person. Bill married Melinda, a Microsoft employee, in 1994. They have three children: Jennifer, Rory John, and Phoebe Adele. Now Bill does not work 16 hours a day and sleep under his desk. He has confined himself to 12-hour workdays during the week and 8 hours on the weekend. He often takes time off work to pursue interests such as kayaking and golf. He enjoys calm, relaxing environment.

Finally Bill Gates has been recognized for is accomplishments. He has earned many awards and has proven to be a man of good character. On March 13, 1986, Bill sent Microsoft public on the Stock Exchange. The initial offering was 21 dollars a share. Bill became a multimillionaire worth 311 million in one day. In 1999 Gates wealth briefly surpassed $100 billion causing the press to call him a centi -billionaire. Bill announced on June 16, 2006 that he would move to a part time role with Microsoft and would finally be able to give to charities on a full time basis.

Gates credited Warren Buffett with influencing Bill’s decision to donate to charitable causes. Days later, Buffett announced that he would begin matching Gates contributions to charity (Wikipedia). As mentioned before, Bill Gates is honored by many and has been given the title Sultan of Software because he is known as the King of Software. Gates was named CEO of the year by Chief Executive Officers Magazine in 1994, ranked number one in the “Top 50 Cyber Elite” by Time Magazine, was listed on the power list of the Sunday Times in 1999, ranked number two in the Upside Elite 100 in 1999. In 2000, Gates founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a charitable organization. The foundation grants have provided funds for college scholarships for under-represented minorities, AIDS prevention, diseases prevention in third world countries, and other causes. He was included in The Guardian as on of the top 100 influential people in media in 2001. Both Bill and Melinda received the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation on May 4, 2006 in recognition of their world impact through charity giving. Later in November 2006, they were awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle for their philanthropic work around the world in the areas of health and education, particularly in Mexico, and specifically in the program “Un paris de lectores” (the day of the instructors).

Time Magazine made Gates one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th Century, as well as one of the 100 most influential people of 2004, 2005, and 2006. Time Magazine named Bill and Melinda the 2005 persons of the year along with U2’s lead singer, Bono, for their humanitarian efforts. Bill Gates is a man of good character. Although it is often disputed, there is evidence of him being trustworthy and fair.

He is straightforward he let his friends and other business people know that they should not tell him anything they do not want him to use against them. He is very perseverant and determined. His perseverance comes into play on the many nights he can not sleep because he is determined to finish what he is working on. He is also respectful and caring. He learned respect by respecting his mother even after she died. He donates millions of dollars to the United Way, where his mother served and proves to be caring by donating billions of dollars to other charities, libraries, and third world countries. He is responsible as running a business is a huge responsibility.

Bill Gates is a noteworthy person in our society who has had an interesting early life, a remarkable career and adult life, and has been recognized for his accomplishments. He is a big success, prevalent, generous, determined, and charming. These qualities help him become a great leader. Not only did Bill create the revolutionary wave for software but he also was able to mount and ride the wave. Being able to write contracts helped him to not only to become king of the wave but also helped him become the king of software. He is and always will be the King of Technology no matter how many times he is accused of pirating and creating monopolies. He has demonstrated the sacrifices that leaders must over come to make a difference.

References

Perkins, J. (host). “A&E Biography: Bill Gates Sultan of Software” [DVD]. Copyright 2000 by A&E Television Network. New York: Arts and Entertainment Television Network.

Bates, Bill. “The Road Ahead”. Harmondsworth, England; Penguin Books Ltd., 1995

Lee, Lauren. “Bill Gates”. Milwaukee: World Almanac Library, 2002

Lesinski, Jeanne M. “Bill Gates”. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company, 2000

Woog, Adam. “Bill Gates”. San Diego: Lucent Books, Inc., 1999

Woog, Adam. “Bill Gates”. Farmington Hills: Kidhaven Press, 2003.

“Bill Gates Chairman, Microsoft Corp.” Microsoft Corporation Press Web Site, Updated June 1, 2006. Copyright 2007 by Microsoft Corporation, All Rights Reserved, Retrieved from the World Wide Web on February 22, 2007 at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/billg/bio.mspx

“Who2.com profile of Bill Gates” Authors: R.F. Holzangel and Paul Hehn. Copyright 1998-2006 by Who2, LLC. All Rights Reserved, Retrieved from the World Wide Web on February 22, 2007. At http://www.who2.com/billgates.html

“William Henry Gates III” Author: Stacey Reitz. Copyright 1996 by Stacey Reitz of Virginia Technology University. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on February 22, 2007 at http://ei.cs.vt.edu/~history/Gates.html

“Bill Gates.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Copyright 2002 by Free Software Foundation, Inc., Retrieved from the World Wide Web on February 22, 2007 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Gates.

“William Henry Gates III Before Microsoft” Author: John Mirick. Copyright 1996 by John Mirick of Virginia Technology University., Retrieved from the World Wide Web on February 22, 2007 at http://ei.cs.vt.edu/~history/Gates.Mirick.html.

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