History of Bill Gates: 10 Curiosities about the Microsoft Founder You (Probably) Didn’t Know

The history of Bill Gates, the popular creator of Microsoft, begins in Seattle, Washington, where he was born on October 28, 1955. From a young age, Gates showed a pronounced interest in technology, and indeed his first significant encounter with computing happened at Lakeside School, where he, alongside Paul Allen, began to explore the world of programming. This early interest laid the foundation for what would be a revolutionary career in technology.

In 1973, Gates entered Harvard, but soon he would discover that his true passion was not in the classrooms but in the technological revolution that was beginning. Convinced that the future belonged to personal computing, he left Harvard in 1975 to pursue his vision. That same year, along with Paul Allen, he founded Microsoft, a company that would forever change the technological landscape.

Microsoft’s fate took a decisive turn in 1980 when IBM approached them. Gates and his team developed MS-DOS for IBM’s first PC, a move that was not only lucrative but strategic, as Gates retained the rights to license the software to other manufacturers. The introduction of Windows in 1985 cemented Microsoft’s dominance in the market, offering a graphical interface that would transform user-computer interaction.

Today, we’ll review his life and some of the curiosities that have marked his career, from his origins to becoming one of the wealthiest individuals on the planet, with a fortune valued (as of December 2023) at $104 billion.

1.Child Prodigy

At just 13 years old, at Lakeside School, Gates developed a tic-tac-toe game that could be played against the computer. This was one of his first encounters with programming, showcasing his natural ability and interest in technology from an early age.

2.Early Entrepreneur

In 1972, three years before Microsoft, Gates, Paul Gilbert, and Paul Allen created Traf-O-Data, a company that developed devices to read data from magnetic tapes used by traffic counters to record the number of vehicles passing through a certain location. At that time, Gates was still a high school student.

Traf-O-Data’s device automated the process of reading traffic data. Before this, reading was done manually, which was a slow and error-prone process. The goal was to offer municipalities and urban planning organizations a more efficient way to collect and analyze traffic data to improve urban infrastructure planning and management.

Although the idea was promising, Traf-O-Data faced several challenges. The first prototype of the device had problems during a public demonstration, which affected the confidence of potential customers. Additionally, the company was affected by the evolution of government technology, specifically when the State of Washington, a key potential customer, began using its own system to process traffic data.

Traf-O-Data did not achieve the expected commercial success, but it was a crucial formative experience for Gates and Allen. It provided them with valuable experience in hardware, software, and the operation of a technology company.

3.Academic Leap

Gates entered Harvard in 1973 with the intention of studying law but quickly found himself drawn to mathematics and programming courses. In 1975, he dropped out of college to found Microsoft with Allen, convinced that the future was in software for personal computers.

4.Software Pioneer

At a time when hardware was considered the most valuable part of computing, Gates had the vision that software would be what truly made the difference. This vision led Microsoft to lead the development of operating systems and applications that transformed the industry.

In the early days of computing, most attention and value were focused on hardware. Large machines and complex physical systems were seen as the core of computing technology. However, Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, had a different perspective. He believed that software, not hardware, would be the most influential factor in the future of computing.

This vision was revolutionary at a time when hardware dominated technological thinking. Gates understood that software offered a flexibility and innovation capability that hardware alone could not match. This perspective put Microsoft on a unique path, setting it apart from other tech giants of the time that focused primarily on hardware. The company led the development of MS-DOS and later Windows, operating systems that became fundamental to personal computing. These operating systems provided a more user-friendly and accessible user interface, opening computing to a wider audience.

5.Business Competitor

Gates was known for his intense competitiveness. Under his leadership, Microsoft adopted aggressive strategies to position itself in the market, eventually leading to several legal battles over antitrust issues, including:

United States vs. Microsoft (1998-2001): This is probably the most famous case. The U.S. Department of Justice and several states accused Microsoft of maintaining an illegal monopoly and using anticompetitive practices, especially in relation to its Internet browser, Internet Explorer. The case focused on whether Microsoft had abused its dominant position in the operating system market to limit competition in other markets, such as web browsers. European Union vs. Microsoft (2004 and 2008): The European Commission found that Microsoft had abused its dominant position in the market with its Windows operating system and server software. The company was accused of restricting interoperability with competitors’ software and integrating its own media player software into Windows.

6.Diversified Investments

Apart from his work at Microsoft, Gates has invested in various companies and emerging technologies. His investments range from clean energy and biotechnology to agriculture and education, demonstrating his interest in a wide range of fields that can positively impact the future.

7.A Voracious Reader

Gates is famous for reading books on a wide range of topics and devotes a week each year (“think week”) to reading and reflecting in an isolated cabin. His love of reading has been a constant in his life, and he often recommends books that he finds particularly motivating. He has explained that he reads around 50 books a year himself.


Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, established in 2000, the Microsoft founder has donated billions of dollars to various causes, including education, global health, and the development of technologies to combat poverty.

The Gates Foundation has been a catalyst in the fight against infectious diseases and in improving healthcare systems in developing countries. They have funded research and programs that have significantly contributed to reducing the incidence of diseases such as malaria and polio.

9.A 21st-Century Influencer

Through his social media platforms and public appearances, Gates shares his ideas on a variety of important topics, from technology and innovation to climate change and education. He continues to be one of the most influential voices in the global public debate, using his experience and platform to foster awareness and change.

10.Accurate Predictions

Bill Gates wrote an essay in 1996 titled “Content is King,” which included phrases like “One of the most exciting things about the Internet is that anyone with a computer and a modem will be able to create and publish any content. The Internet is, in a sense, the multimedia equivalent of the photocopier. It allows material to be duplicated at low cost, regardless of the size of the audience.” He was absolutely right, given the ease and low cost (even free) of creating content and publishing it on the web.

In 1999, the Microsoft creator wrote a book called “Business @ the Speed of Thought,” where he predicted the proliferation of mobile devices and tablets, as well as the importance of the Internet in everyday life, long before they became so common.

Gates is also famous for having made other accurate predictions, such as that “there will be a computer on every desktop and in every home.” This vision has become a reality, as personal computers have become ubiquitous in most homes and workplaces. He also predicted the popularity of social networks, “private websites for friends and family that will allow chatting and planning events.”

Gates has been involved in the development of artificial intelligence for years and predicted that this technology would transform industries such as healthcare and manufacturing. Today, it is evident that AI applications are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in diverse sectors. Additionally, Microsoft has become the main shareholder of OpenAI, one of the references in this field.

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